Creative Child

Better Family Photos in Seven Easy Tweaks

by Erin J. Bernard on Dec 11th, 2015

Up your photo-shooting game — no fancy camera required!

Children are notoriously tricky to photograph: they squirm, they squint, they wiggle out of grasp. What’s a frustrated parent to do?

I’m a portrait photographer who often snaps pictures of families, and over the course of countless sessions (not to mention a redo or two), I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to capturing kids.

First, the bad news: there’s no magic bullet for getting those little wiggle worms to sit still for your next family photo op; snapping kids inevitably requires a little luck and a whole lot of patience.

The good news: employ a few simple strategies, and you can easily take your photo-shooting game to the next level despite the challenges, no expensive equipment or master classes required. Happy capturing!

Focus on technique before tools. When you’re frustrated with the quality of your pictures, a shiny new camera can sound mighty tempting. Wait! Until you’ve sorted out the basics of clean, sharp shooting, it won’t help nearly as much as you might think. Focus, for now, on mastering your current equipment (starting with a careful read-through of the entire camera manual), then upgrade your gear later when you’ve improved your skills and have a better idea of which features you’ll actually use.

Get closer. Think you’re close enough to your little subjects? You’re probably not. Don’t be shy! Squeeze in there, fill that frame, and remember that it’s almost impossible to be too close to when you’re photographing wee ones. Get down on your kids’ level whenever you can, and don’t be afraid to move your own body around in space when going after a shot. You’ll end up with better pictures every time. 

Get Closer

Mind the details. Before you click, quickly scan the screen or viewfinder for any subtle surprises lurking in the background. Is a potted plant growing out of your child’s head? Can you see your own reflection in a nearby mirror? Is somebody’s collar flipped up all janky? The tiny details often spell the difference between an elegant shot and a so-so one. So pause, and use your eyes: you’ll be amazed at how many would-be glitches you can catch when you take a moment to preview your compositions.

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