Perfectly posed baby feet. A giggle of joy. A moment of tenderness between sibs. There's nothing more satisfying than capturing a beautiful picture of your children. But for those of us lacking an artistic eye like I am, these pictures are the flukes, the rare occurrence when subject and situation magically meld to create a perfect picture. But it doesn't have to be so mysterious. To celebrate National Camera Day, I talked with five family photographers to learn tips to take better photos of your kids.
Here are five tips to help you snap better pictures of your kids.
- Get up close. "Fill the frame as best you can with your subject," recommends photographer Bill Cain. "So many times [I'll see] an image that has a little tiny head in the middle of the frame and lots of meaningless backgrounds." So put those adorable cheeks, toothy grins and tiny toes to good use and let them shine on center stage.
- Skip "Say cheese!" You know the forced grimaces you get when you ask your kids for the 240th time to smile. "For capturing the best engaged photos of your kids, the trick is not to over exert them with constant 'say cheese', 'look over here', 'smile' commands," says photographer Stephanie de Montigny. "They will quickly get annoyed or bored and move on, at which point you've lost them." And remember, a smile isn't always key. "Just because they don't smile or laugh doesn't mean it's not a great photo," reminds de Montigny. "Often, my favorites are when they make amazing eye contact yet keep that serious face, as often it is the closest resemblance to their true-self."
- Let them move. Instead of asking again and again for kids to stand still, turn to the left, move over a bit...let them have fun! "One of my favorite things is movement," says photograph Carol Holt. "I tell the kids to spin, run, jump, do Ring-Around-the-Rosies, anything to get them doing what kids do. I took my daughter Ava up in the hills a couple of months ago and just let her dance and spin. It was so fun watching her!" And the pictures came out beautiful and full of life.
- Take the focus off the camera. Trying to get your kids to stay still so you can nab that perfect shot at the beach or make use of the filter light through the park trees? Instead of begging them to stay still, distract them, says photographer Lora Warnick. "I like to get their attention on something other than the camera. I make them look outside or at something else in the room but ask them questions like, 'What color cars do you see outside?' or 'How many picture frames are hanging this wall behind me?' It's a great distraction and avoids the cheesy faces they like to make!"
- Get down low. Not happy with your composition? Try taking photos from your knees or the floor. "Kids love it when you're on their level," suggests photographer Kent Leckie. "Some of those amazing shots from those angle turn out to be your best."
What are you favorite tips for taking pictures of kids?
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