Wednesday, 24 October 2012

GUEST POST: Taking Kids' Photos

Here is an entry on some tips on taking kids' photos from Janet of Mum the Photographer. Thank you Janet for your contribution.  
My sister-in-law and I started Mum the Photographer as a way of sharing our passion for photographing our own children. We’re not about taking perfect photos (in fact mine are often far from perfect!) but more about remembering to capture our children and their personalities in their everyday lives.

When I think about taking photos of my own children I realise that broadly they fall into three scenarios – posed, planned and impromptu.

1.      Posed Photos. To be honest, I don’t often take posed photos of my children. It can be quite tricky to get them looking natural. Tricky but not impossible. Firstly, I find a well-lit place in my house and free it from clutter – the general everyday things we have in our houses like a few letters, pens, newspapers, a stray toy or two. These things can be distracting in the background of a photo. Once I’ve got my spot ready, I then get my son over as there is no point having them wait around while I get prepared. I will face my son towards the window so that the light is captured in his eyes. But I don’t pick up my camera straight away. Even my sons who have been photographed thousands and thousands of times don’t have a natural smile at the ready as soon as my camera comes up. You need some easy interaction first. You will know your own child the best – in my case a bit of ribbing can work, or tickling, or having them pull their silliest face and showing them mine etc. Once they’ve relaxed my camera then comes out and I take about 10 – 20 photos while still interacting with them. If I’m taking a posed photo it is generally for a reason – in this case it was to capture his first missing front tooth. I chose to have his face almost entirely fill the frame. If I’d pulled back a bit, there wouldn’t have been as much focus drawn to his face.
Photography Tips

2.      Planned photos. This is often my approach to taking photos of my children because as “Mum the Photographer” my goal is to create a strong photographic record of my children as they grow up. I read Gretchin rubin’s book “The Happiness Project” and her quote “the days are long but the years are short” has really stuck with me. I want photos to help me remember exactly how my children were growing up. I don’t really get that from posed photos – sure, I can see what their face was like when they lost their first tooth, but sitting on a chair smiling isn’t really how they spend their time. So if it’s not an impromptu activity, I’ll often bring the activity they are doing to a place in my house with great light. Why not give yourself the best opportunity to capture a great photo. And apart from again clearing distracting clutter away from the background, that is all the planning I’ll do to get the photo. I won’t ask the boys to hold the toy in a certain way, or look this way, or arrange the blocks so that their colour pattern is pleasing. I want to get a photo of how they are playing … because all too soon, this phase of play will have passed and they’ll be onto something else. I want real memories in my albums and on my walls. Other planned photos I take will often be outside, late in the afternoon when the light is soft. Again, I won’t direct how they should play, but rather capture them as they are running off their late afternoon steam.
Photography tips

3.      Impromptu photos. These are those photos you take where there is absolutely no planning or posing at all. They are completely natural, and I think sometimes the absolute best photos in your album. They might not be the clearest photos because perhaps your light wasn’t great but there is no point asking your child at this stage to stop what they are doing and relocate to near the nice big window. It’s also in these times that you grab whatever camera you have nearby and mostly for me, these are the photos I’ll snap on my iPhone. I make a point of seldom using my flash when I take photos but impromptu photos are when I may well use a flash and an auto setting just so that I can capture the funny or precious moment. I recently had one of these moments on a plane … Will giggled uncontrollably for about 5 minutes over a joke. He was so infectious that the people around us started laughing too. This blurry photo is one of my favourites from over our school holidays.
Photography tips

If you’d like more information on how to best optimise your light for taking posed or planned photos, then “take a peek” at our lighting module from our home page. (

We’d love for you to join our “Mum the Photographer” community … check out our bog and facebook page for weekly tips on improving your photos and interesting ways in which to create a photographic record of your child as they grow up. If there is something that you think would help you out when taking photos of your own children please get in touch with us on facebook or email

All the best

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