How to take Photos of Your Kids

While I do think a good family portrait session is due every year or two, kids grow so quickly that you want to be able to document their growth on the run throughout the year, at least I do!

There are two ways you can take children’s portraits:

  1. Force them, cajoule them, nag them, bark at them to “stand up straight and smile at the camera!!!”
  2. Let them run around while you play the stealth shooter taking snaps as they do their (beautiful, wondrous, magical) thing!

I’m a fan of the second method (can you tell?) and I’m going to give you a few tips that will have you photographing your kids with ease as you live your lives together.

To start with, the best camera is the one you have at the time! However, I’m a big fan of Fujifilm’s compact cameras. The x100s is a classic, compact and tough little camera. The versatility of the X-T1’s are also excellent for taking day-to-day family photos. They both have large sensors which means you are getting high quality, large format photos for a fraction of the weight (and cost) of the usual full frame DSLR cameras.

Tip 1.

Be conscious to take your camera with you when you know fun times are to be had, like picnics by the lake for example. Have it nearby-ish at home in case a beautiful, captureable moment crops up. Sometimes I can’t be bothered getting off the couch or exiting the moment to retrieve my camera and sometimes I do and the moment is over. It’s a judgement call. I think that sometimes It’s better to take a mental snap and forget the camera. It’s more important for your kids to remember you being a part of the action then always behind the camera.

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Tip 2.

While it’s good to leave the camera alone sometimes, I also find taking my kids out on a determined and purposeful photoshoot is a great way to have a fun time together, focused solely on them – my daughter especially loves it, and I’m sure my son secretly does!

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Tip 3.

Don’t just take photos of faces (There’s a tip about capturing faces following). Hands, body posture and activity are just as expressive and show the character of your child. A photo of their knees with grazes and all shows they were active kids and you’ll want to remember that too.

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Tip 4. 

Take photos of the details, a little flower in the hair, a cute hair clip or loved teddy, the detail of a well-worn shirt or dress. While the things in themselves may not be important, seeing them years down the track will bring memories of playing with hair, dressing your child, cuddling and even their cute voices and mannerisms from that time.

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Tip 5.

Get down to their level! An easy way to drastically improve your capture is to make sure your camera is level with your subject. This is particularly important to remember when photographing a baby. Get down to their level and you get a truer picture.

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Tip 6.

When taking photos of faces, don’t assume they must be looking at you. My favourite way to take natural photos of my children is to have them looking at something, searching for the bugs on a bush or drawing with chalk on the pavement.

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Set them up so your background is pretty or at least plain and not garish in any way and talk to them about what they are exploring as you quietly snap away.

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Tip 7. 

Photograph through some foliage. It softens the whole effect and adds colour and depth to your photograph. Just have it a little off to the side so it doesn’t obscure important details.

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Tip 8.

Embrace their ideas. Embrace the absurd. It might work out. More importantly it gets them on your side so you aren’t the one just directing them around…they might not play along if that’s the case!

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Tip 9.

When it comes to camera settings for kids make sure your shutter speed is adequate! Try photographing on a sunny day (but in the shade) so that your ISO (that’s your light sensitivity) is the best it can be (that is, the lowest it can be which reduces graininess). If you can set your shutter speed, do that – to at least 400 (which is 400th of a second), and let the aperture take care of itself.

If you’re a little more savvy with your camera, having a wide aperture (that’s a LOW number, 2.8 – 3.2) makes for some stunningly dreamy photographs.

But number one tip for all you novice photographers with a camera phone, just make sure it’s a sunny day and photograph in the shade, or a bright cloudy day is just as good (if not better)!

Good luck! I hope you take the time to have your own little photoshoot with your children. A professional can take photos like these with you included, but doing it yourself is an entirely different and special experience!

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The Van Daveys

I love this family. I met Hayley six years ago on top of Mt Panorama in Bathurst when she was registering downhill longboarders, including my hubby and hers, for the ASRA downhill longboarding race down the mountain. They were crazy days. She was so cool, had the best looking mohawk I’d ever seen on anyone ever and had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. Six month old Sophia decided Hayley’s jade necklace was her new best toy and was pretty much glued to her whenever she was around, so we became friends and I’m so glad we’ve managed to stay in touch and I’ve been able to watch her and Owen marry and become really awesome parents to two of the most vibrant kids around (that Juniper is a HOOT!). Yes, I love this family and I loved photographing them A LOT! Can’t wait for the next time!

Hayley is also a fabulous artist running under the name Haeli Van Veen, do check out her work. I can’t wait to have the space and the cash to buy one of her beasts down the track.

xo

Botanic Gardens

I love the Botanic Gardens in Canberra, in fact I think they are the National Botanic Gardens. Since the creation of the Red Centre they now have it all. It’s incredible wondering between wildflowers in white sand, misty rainforests down a ravine, the red, red desert with a gigantasaurous thorny devil (not real), the Eucalyptus lawn, the prehistoric woodland, the rock garden with all the many lizards (real). I absolutely love it. These are a few pics from a recent trip. I mainly set out to photograph Soph in an outfit my sister had created. Hannah finished a Fine Arts degree in Textiles recently (her label is Asunta). She’s about to move to Melbourne to begin an intense graphic design course, but she’s made clothes for over a decade now and is really very good at it, I wanted to photograph these clothes before they lost their newness.

I also got to try out a couple of ideas, something I always love doing. I love the idea of photographing people in and around their house, I feel it allows a photograph to tell more of a story if the subject is placed in a context relevant to them.

 

Wild and Free Kids

I am an advocate of children running wild and free through nature (it’s the hippie in me – thanks for that gene, mum!) and I love to watch my kids doing that too. I’m pretty happy that we managed to find this tangle of trees and plants just a hop, skip and jump away from our own home and the kids and I love to go and hang out there.

I’ve done this every year, take my children to do a photo shoot. As a mum it’s fantastic to do this, I am able to see and appreciate their incredibly fast growth year by year, sometimes us mums can miss this happening before our very eyes! And as a photographer I love to do this too. I can take as much time as I want, control the conditions (choose the day, timing and clothing…that’s as far as I can go actually!) and experiment (my kids are pretty patient with the posing!).

Here are the results. Such a privilege to watch children explore and create in their own worlds, they have such amazingly creative brains when they are young. Get your kids outside! Find a place to get muddy! I recommend it!

Blessings.

The McIntosh Family

This family was just so fun and amazing to photograph. I was able to play with a few different ideas and they happily went along. In the end it was hard to drag myself away on a relaxing Saturday morning, and they kept trying to feed me, but taking the time was worth it as I ended up with some images which are now some of my very favourites!

If you book a newborn shoot with me this is very much what it will end up being like, in your own home with lots of interaction among the family. I love this, it’s the way it’s done around here!

xo

The Windhorsts

Julie got off the plane looking a million dollars. After a few weeks on the Gold Coast they returned to Canberra and I grabbed them for a family photoshoot in one of Canberra’s many parks (Canberra is a photographer’s paradise for locations, lucky city!). I’m glad they were so game to get into it. We found some beautiful spots for the children to play where I could photograph them naturally and discovered on old bridge to climb on.

Finding spots like this is a great bonus of having a photoshoot in an unexplored park.