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!

Iandra Castle

I have a soft spot for this castle. I photographed a wedding here many years ago and I would love to photograph another one here.  It is one of those places that is full of surprises and difficult to exhaust, there are always parts left undiscovered, which is a good reason to go back I guess!

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Grenfell at the Henry Lawson Festival

Part of the initiation into country life in Young, NSW is a visit to nearby Grenfell for the Henry Lawson festival. The highlight for me (two highlights) was (1) Grenfell’s fabulous art deco architecture and (2) the traditional Maori dancers, in particular the Haka, which, I mean, WHO does not love the Haka!? The festival had a NZ slant to it this year as, apparently, the esteemed Henry had spent some time there in the 1890s.

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Brad & Ellen

I hardly know what to write of Brad and Ellen’s wedding day except for the great privilege I felt at having a window into their lives on this day. It was also the first time I’ve visited The Old Shirely Hotel in Bethungra, which was just an amazing venue which I highly recommend, to stay in and to party in!

We really raced to catch the last of the late Autumn light on this day. The colours were incredible as we drove through the country in Brad’s dad’s beautiful vintage Jaguar (a first for me!). What a great treat!

Thanks for having me guys, you were wonderful to photograph. xx

Venue: The Old Shirley Hotel, Bethungra

Flowers: Native Botanical

Hair & Makeup: Gusolios

The Harricks’ Family

Here are the winners of my facebook competition from last month! As I too am one of six children, it was so great to gift these photos to another family of 8. Spending time with them brought back lots of memories, the fun and rowdiness of having many, loving people around.

I met them at Canberra’s wonderful Arboretum where they jumped straight into their photo shoot. I barely had to tell any jokes to make them laugh. They are pro-laughers! And big-huggers! I truly, truly enjoyed myself, I hope you did too guys and it was so great to meet you! Warm Love!

Dan & Emily

I’m more than excited to be photographing Dan & Emily’s farm wedding later this year in Young, NSW. They are naturals in front of the camera as I discovered, and it was great to take some engagement photos of them last week. I can’t recommend engagement photos highly enough, it really helps you both to relax in front of the camera and helps me to see how you photograph, everyone is different and putting people in front of a lens can lead to surprising results sometimes. If I can understand how you and the camera gel then I can get the best results from your wedding photos. I had nothing to worry about with these guys, however, perfectly at home and beautifully photogenic they worked that camera! I was so glad to shoot here too, I’ve been wanting to use this palette of natural, muted shades for a long time and with the perfect spot, the perfect couple and the perfect opportunity I love how it all came together!

Vish & Mukta

Mukta & Vish’s photo shoot was done over two sessions. We did a portrait session at a beautiful public park in Young and then I was invited to photograph their housewarming ceremony on a morning a few days later. I had a lot of fun with these guys. They laughed at my non-jokes and played along nicely, I even managed to get a few of them into the fairly dry creek bed!

The housewarming was incredible. I am fascinated by other cultures. The Hindu culture is one I find particularly alluring. It is an old culture and has absorbed so many streams of thought over the centuries. I did a little study into religions through my uni degree and the fluidity of the Hindu ways extremely interesting to me. The Hindi word dharma, loosely ‘religion’, encompasses a broad understanding of ways and practices and the range within what we call Hinduism is extensive, so I don’t feel I can do it justice, simply take it as it is and be enthralled by it!

One of the beautiful things of Hinduism, and perhaps Indian tradition, is it’s celebration of life! The joy, the colour, the sound, the physical nature of their rituals and ceremonies, the way their traditions involve the whole family, I loved how during this celebration…which I think was all in Sanskrit? (so I didn’t understand a word!)…the children made noise, people were busy in the kitchen right next to the ceremony area, and everyone came and went either as they pleased or as the ceremony demanded it….I couldn’t have been sure. It just seemed like a lot of fun with everyone getting into it! Through it all the Priest just kept going and I kept on clicking away. What. A. Treat. I love that photography gets me into other people’s worlds like this!!

Lisa & Fred

When I think of Lisa and Fred’s wedding I think of the detail. Lisa put so much of herself into her wedding through each decoration, the flowers (one of my favourites, hydrangeas, simply done but packed with meaning), heartfelt messages, the care she exhibited to her guests such as providing individual fans and an enormous lolly table, I mean, who doesn’t need lollies at a wedding!

I continually find myself re-evaluating wedding photography, the industry just seems so overdone, so pompous sometimes, but the industry is not the individual, and a wedding is a wonderful thing. It is a celebration, the kind of celebration we in the West often forgo in our busy lives. Yes, it is important to celebrate LOVE (love is one of the best things we have got going down here!), it is equally important to invest some time and money into showing other people how much we care about them and it is not an extravagance to indulge each other on these occasions. Okay, often it is an extravagance, but it should be! That’s the point. We should spoil each other, we should go out of our way to get creative with these events, we should throw a party for other people, and that’s the vibe I got from this wedding. Love was indulged in and it came through in the detail, in each hug and touch, each paper pom-pom, each lolly bag. It made me love weddings yet again.

Thanks, Lisa and Fred for letting me be a part of your big day. I won’t forget it! xx

Luke & Kersti #2

I feel like I caught the last of the Spring weather with these guys. This day was still bloody hot, but we went out late, when the air was still Spring-ish, to catch the golden light. The grass was still green and the trees still fresh, which is not how it is as I post this!

What lovebirds! I didn’t have to do much directing, they had eyes only for each other as it was! Such a delight to be around these two.

Thanks, lovely Keren, for helping me out.

Glenda

I took my sister-in-law out the other day and took some photos of her.  I tell you, I am really in love with portraiture. I love helping another woman to feel beautiful. I know what it’s like to be on the wrong end of an unflattering photo and so I guess I really love that I have the capabilities of finding and then bringing that inner beauty out through photography and then being able to show that person how beautiful they are! I love that.

Some of my favourite shoots have been one-on-one with a gorgeous friend, I am learning how to direct models, it’s not something I’m naturally good at and so: practice makes perfect!

I also used these and other photos as impetus to set up a bit of a website. I’m taking tentative steps toward growing this, but I wanted somewhere that was specifically for my photography. I feel that I am finally getting good enough to start billing myself as a ‘photographer’ and it’s funny how that drive has slowly grown from my first response to a new baby, a big fat pregnant woman, families and special occasions being ‘can I come and take some photos?’ to getting so obsessed with getting that shot right that I forget about myself and how silly I might look and I just get in there.

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Braidwood: Where all is well

Braidwood really is one of those ideal little towns where you can feel like you are living in the pages of Country Style magazine, or other romanticised vision of country living. Full of boutique shops and cafes, Canberra’s well-to-do & hipsty crowd can feel quite at home here. It reminds me a lot of Bellingen up in Northern, NSW and it might be headed in that direction. Like Bellingen it has resisted instating many of the chain stores and this adds to its charm and ‘authenticity’ (though when a Mill goes from being a Mill to a guest house – well, the only thing authentic about it is its architecture).

Being a Canberran, I love Braidwood with all its quaint stone buildings and expensive stores, not that I can afford much of it these days, but it’s nice to window shop, my husband, coming from Country NSW does find it a bit trite and inauthentic as a country town, but there can be no denying its picturesqueness and beauty as a place to stay for a few days.

And so stay we did, my family and I, we managed to get all bar two (which is a good effort when there are a total 19 heads to round up) into the Braidwood Mill, which ended up being a great base for our venue and it worked out well this time around, but is realistically just a tad too small for our large family.

Braidwood proved the perfect wind down post Christmas, where we could spend time eating good food, walking off our Christmas indulgences, patronising our favourite Braidwood bakery, and carousing over a late night game of Articulate – which is just the funniest game to play with my family.

We made new discoveries like an exercise park which was as good for the adults as for the kids, a new swimming hole where we found (but did not take) large, freshwater mussels and spend a good couple of hours and I roamed the back streets of Braidwood discovering pokey old cottages at 5.30 in the morning.

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I have a deep love for my family and investing in times like this is just so good.  Of course my sister-in-law and her new little one were missed, but as we all grow and stretch out into our own paths coming back together now and again cements our place and who we are.

I keep coming back to the photo of me and my siblings, it amazes me how who we are is so different to who we were, we have all chosen such varying paths, in the mix we have a Horticulturalist, Photographer, Artist/Apprentice Chef, Accountant, Textile Artist/Children’s author/designer and Soldier. Some are frisbie mad, others into the family way, most of us are mad about traveling and if we haven’t yet traveled far we at least want to. Lovers of language, history and philosophy, books, art and music, good food, wine, beer, cider and every single type of cheese you can throw at us, board games, nature, good architecture. When we come together we know we can indulge in the things we love.

Wedding Photos

Coming up, a collaboration with florist friend Alicea of Lily Grace Flowers, based in Canberra, ACT, with the most exquisite floral arrangements I have yet seen for a wedding. It was a lot of fun putting this together and I’ve had such a good time shooting and editing these it’s really got me thinking about kickstarting my photography business for good now, especially as my daughter will be going to school this year (something which will hopefully give me a little more time.)

Enjoy the preview, I’m nearly done editing and the full shebang will be up in just a wee while!

(Florist, hair stylist and dresses will be all fully credited in the full version!)

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Camping at Christmas

Our Summer holidays camping, in which my hair bleached many shades lighter, we bonded with wildlife, relaxed in our new/old tent, read books, fried in the sun, adopted our summer skins,tried fishing, collected a couple of mussels, explored rock pools, ate only the foods we liked, welcomed cousins/family, went blueberry picking on a sweltering summer’s day in which my bag strap melted onto my top, drove down dusty roads, discovered elfin rain forest from the Gondwanan era & just enjoyed being a family all together and also, importantly, on our own, just us.

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Keren and Child

There are some women who just do pregnant really well and my friend, Keren, is one of them, so I just had to take some photos of her shortly before the birth of her second child, Dulcie. Just see for yourself…

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Tidbinbilla

For a very long time I’ve been wanting to make the easy and stunning drive down to Tidbinbilla in Australia’s Capital Territory.  Not just Tidbinbilla, but the entire surrounding landscape is one of my favourites.  Nearby Corin Forest is the stomping ground of the new-ish festival of Corinbank, and when it is not hosting said festival it is a popular family picnicking spot with a cafe, flying fox, toboggan ride and water slide with kangaroos and the odd bit of wildlife moseying about.

Namadgi is a hop, skip and a jump away as well. The harsh beauty of Namadgi guts me every time and I can barely speak when I see it. It is a striking contrast to the groomed and tame city of Canberra. All I can do is absorb.  There is a haunting loneliness to Namadgi.  The ancestors of the original Australians seem to hang here, at least I feel it and it’s not very scientific or logical, is it, but who can really judge?

As my dad says in all his wisdom: ‘we know nothing.’

Anyway. Tidbinbilla: Finally we jumped into the car and had an all too short visit to this great ‘animal park’ as we were calling it. After a bit of traipsing around we were rewarded with many an animal sighting. After the Emus and Kangaroos at the park, the elegant Brolgas were our first find, stalking about on their long, crane like legs – in fact they are Cranes, Australia’s only one. After reading Olga the Brolga by Rod Clement I am a fan of this bird. Next up were many birds: Magpie Geese, Australian White Ibis, Water Hens, two very large Pelicans who were sunning themselves on rocks in the middle of the lake, a Red-Belly Black Snake, many lizards and a water dragon and most exciting were two – two! sightings of the shy and very elusive Platypus (whose name has no confirmed plural), the very first real live platypus I have every seen.Tidbinbilla0001 Tidbinbilla0002 Tidbinbilla0003 Tidbinbilla0004 Tidbinbilla0005  Tidbinbilla0007 Tidbinbilla0008 Tidbinbilla0009 Tidbinbilla0010  Tidbinbilla0012

Canberra Red Brick

In Yarralumla there is an old brickworks. This brickworks enjoyed its heyday somewhere between 1913 and 1976. Today it is closed for business, though the recycled timber merchant, Thors Hammer, operates out of the ramshackle old building.

When I was a wee lass most of the houses around Yarralumla were that trademark red of the bricks from ye olde brickworks down the way. As I grew into my teens they began to drop like flies and they are still dropping. My Nonna’s place is one of the last.  She is the embodiment of the neighbourhood that once was; industrious Europeans living in their 3 bedroom houses with their 3 -4 kids, growing bountiful kitchen gardens and enveloping their blocks with friendly hedges.

There once used to be no T.V. Do you remember this time? It was not so long ago. My Nonna was reliving those days in my company recently.  Apparently the whole street (or a good portion) would exit their homes and gather at one of these tiny houses for evenings of frivolous fellowship and good strong coffee (those good Europeans brought their coffee and their wine drinking to our sunburnt land), apparently the art of talking about the weather was refined back then and nothing dull about it, I guess it would be if you couldn’t just google it. Maybe they used to take bets.

I hope, hope, hope at least a few of these iconic houses last into future centuries. If they cannot carry their culture with them – that culture of neighbourhood conviviality and togetherness – then they can serve as a relic of Canberra’s heritage.

My Nonna’s house is past its prime. My Nonno was the gardener and had avenues of grapevines wherever he could fit them.  Two impossibly, tall and inconveniently placed Sequoias stood in the front yard and many more fruit trees were growing and thriving and producing bountifully. I remember it being a little bit more of a jungle, though everything had its place, this could well be that I was much smaller back in the day. He kept three beehives, several hens, several more free ranging pigeons (of which nothing was done to or about, they were simply transitory guests, fed and housed) and had a large food producing garden and several more berry bushes.

It really was a suburban oasis.

With time comes age and the shed is drooping, the cubby house is boarded shut (and I daren’t enter), the chimneys represent fireplaces, but these are no longer in use.

But it still stands and there is still beauty all around, an unsculpted, natural beauty which I think those tiny over-landscaped gardens often lack.

There is one thing (among other things) that remain and that is those warblers, the Australian magpie. I vividly remember waking up in my mum’s former bedroom on a sleepover one day to the sound of that beautiful native cockerel crow, I thought it was an exquisite way to wake up. My Nonna is forever feeding the birds and they still come in their dozens and they still warble outside the windows waiting to be fed.

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(The Cellar, where my Nonna made his own wine.)

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And the house, it still stands.  But some of these rickety structure are slowly returning to the soil with the grace of old age and still with the handprint of their maker all over them.

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The former vege garden, returned to grass.