Every photographer takes family photos. For hobbyist photographers, that's probably what you photograph more than anything else. Unfortunately, I rarely see articles on photography sites about how to take better portraits of one's own family. To that end, I wrote this post on how to improve your photos of the kids.
Kid Photography Tip #1: Stop asking the kids to look at the camera and smile. Please, stop. Can you imagine if the photographer of the photo featured on this page asked the kids to huddle up together and wave to the camera? The moment would have been spoiled. The best tip I can give you for photographing kids is to take them to the park, put on the longest lens you have, use a low aperture for shallow depth-of-field, and shoot away. No posing required.
Kid Photography Tip #2: Snap the photo as soon as you see some expression. Kids are fun to watch because they react to ordinary things with extreme reactions. Unfortunately, I see too many family photos where the parents wait for the kid to smile before taking a photo. It's not all about smiles, folks. Sometimes a look of disgust, fear, silliness, or excitement will make a better expression than a bland smile.
Kid Photography Tip #3: Always, always, always shoot a burst of at least 3 shots. Like shooting sports, one instant to the next will change the photo drastically. Also, shooting in bursts of three shots will allow you to put the photos together in a series, like the photo of my son, featured below.
Kid Photography Tip #4: When shooting inside the house, use window light. Give the little kids a few toys and face them toward the largest window in your house. Sit to the side of the window and shoot away. The beautiful soft light will make for a great portrait even in a common location. If you want to get more fancy with lighting, check out this post on cheap off-camera flash.
Kid Photography Tip #5: Clean up your backgrounds. Since the best photos you'll take of your kids are likely going to be candids, you will run into the problem of having distracting backgrounds. If taking photos of the kids playing in the living room, make sure to clean up the room first. When taking photos of the kids playing at the park, change your angle to get the trash can out of the background. You get the idea. Watch for the backgrounds or your photos will be distracting.
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