I won’t even lie to say that I planned this post a week ago; it’s truly something that dawned on me today that I should really blog about! So during nap time this afternoon, I sat down with my tea (and some of the kid’s chocolate from St. Nicholas 😁) and brainstormed exactly what I wanted to say in this post about how to photograph your own kids at home. It’s something you can choose to do every day or occasionally. But hopefully I will inspire you in some way!
I have a various amount of clients, but at least half of them have children. This post is specifically for moms and dads who want to take amazing pictures of their kids (who doesn’t!?), in everyday scenarios. Although you may not have the experience of a professional photographer, you can still take some nice, basic, everyday pictures that make your heart happy and fill up the empty spaces in the photo albums.
I picked three components to cover in this topic, and although there are many more, I think these are the easiest and most relevant to point out!
*Bonus at the end: I give you the details about how I shot the images of the cutie featured in this post!
First of all, I encourage you to take the plunge and buy a camera. This does NOT have to break the bank. Both Canon and Nikon (and Fugi) have an awesome selection of both point-and-shoot cameras, as well as basic DSLRs that are perfect. I have always shot Canon and went through three point-and-shoot digitals before acquiring my first DSLR. Most unfortunately, my first two digital cameras befell tragedy in college, but my third was a Canon PowerShot A4000 ID (HD). I think I paid $250 for it back in 2009. This camera is still AWESOME. My husband has taken it on trips for work to various countries, and the quality is phenomenal for the size and weight. My first DSLR was a gift from my mother-in-law now four Christmas’ ago (can’t believe it), but it is a Canon Rebel T3i. The Rebel series features great, basic DSLRs for a family to own. There is an option to interchange lens’, if desired, and it gives you the option to explore more on the technical side of things, if you wish to learn about your camera in depth.
In short, every family needs to have a camera, because let’s be honest: who actually prints photos that you take with your phone? If you do, that’s amazing! But I definitely don’t, although I should. Also, if you’re a parent who hasn’t yet had your phone destroyed by your child, then you are blessed, and I will pray that you never see that day. I have, and it’s quite emotional, to say the least. I think the most upsetting thing isn’t the $ or € amount to replace it, it’s the fact that you potentially just lost THOUSANDS of photos that you never saved onto a hard drive or migrated over via iCloud. Don’t let that happen and ensure that it doesn’t by investing in a family camera that is kept safely out of tiny hands (and water!), at all times.
I completely understand that sometimes a camera isn’t always in the budget. Although Christmas is coming up (😉) and there are some that are in the $100 to $300 range that are brilliant, it still may not be in the cards when the kids are little. So, use your phone, and apply the same tips you read below. Just be sure to back your images up somehow (trust me)!
Tip number two: the best light, is natural light. So what I mean by this is that the best location to take any photo of your kids, is by using the natural light of the sun. The worst lighting in the world, which is even challenging for a professional photographer to handle at times in uncontrolled situations, is indoor light, namely tungsten or fluorescent light (in other words, any artificial light source). So you have two options… Either take the kids outside and get some nice images of them playing in the backyard, going for a walk, or simply sitting on the patio or porch, OR turn off the lamps and determine what room in your house is the brightest at a particular time of the day by means of the sun. Cloudy days are also completely fine!
For example: I know that my family room is the brightest room in the house from about 8 – 10:30 a.m., because the light comes in beautifully from the two large doors facing East. So oftentimes, this is the time of day and location that I take my personal pictures of the boys. Now, in the evenings from about 3 – 5 p.m., the light is coming in through the kitchen window, which faces West. So, occasionally, if I have one of the boys in the kitchen with me, or both, eating a snack or helping with something, I will grab my camera and use the light coming in from the window to take some candid shots of them doing whatever it is they’re doing. I will say that there are certain rooms in the house that I won’t even attempt to photograph in specifically because that room gets very little light, no matter what time of day, and I avoid artificial light at all costs. I stick to what works and I am always happy with the result.
Lastly, give yourself, and your little ones grace. This can DEFINITELY be hard to do, especially when time is of the essence, or you have the most perfect idea in your head that is totally Pinterest worthy, aaaaand no one is having it. Or, the photo doesn’t turn out the way you pictured, even though you set it up identically to an image on Pinterest or a favorite photographer’s social media account; which by the way – majority of what professional photographers put on Pinterest, is LITERALLY their best work, and they’ve obviously been shooting for years and have lots of experience. It is also spontaneous work which really can’t be replicated because you had the be there at that moment, with that equipment, and lighting, etc. This leads me into my final point on this topic… I have found that my best images when working with little ones, are the ones that are completely unplanned. They do something perfect and incredibly sweet and simple, that you didn’t tell them to do and you certainly did not see coming. That is a child in a nutshell folks: innocent yet unpredictable, 24/7. And so the moral of the story for parents on this one is to be exactly how you are every other minute of the day (or try to be!): flexible, go with the flow, have fun, and keep taking pictures! Don’t miss a moment.
As promised, some details on these images…
I took these on a weekday morning at about 10:15 a.m. Anson’s belly was full and we needed to get out of the house, so I grabbed my camera and we walked up the hill about 100 meters away from our front door. The background wasn’t super important to me, I liked that you can just barely see some of the houses in our town behind him. However, like I said, that wasn’t a priority. HE was my priority.
Insight into my camera bag: I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III and with prime lens. For these images I used both a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens as well as the Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens.
Lighting: it was partially sunny with light cloud cover, but it was starting to get darker as time went on. It is obviously winter time, so the sun is not as strong. For us in Germany, the sun rises at about 8:15 a.m., so at the time we were outside, we were still within two hours of the sunrise, which is a nice time to be outside.
As you can see, he is a very busy bee. With kids, you do get a variety of natural poses if you just let them roam a bit. He even let me get some with his hat off (que sarcasm!). At one point I moved him a little further up the hill, and then he noticed the rope fence, and THAT became his center of focus. Initially I thought, “oh great, this fence is ugly”, but then I realized that it actually adds a unique touch to the moment; it tells his story a little more. Plus, he’s 21 months old and what did I really expect!? OF COURSE he wants to do anything but stand still, smile and say “cheese” at me for 10-15 minutes.
Regarding time: we were up on that hill for no more than 15 minutes. Not only was it cold, but if you push their buttons – you’ll have an unhappy kid and then possibly, a frustrated you. It’s not worth it to force it. There will be other days and opportunities. It also can’t hurt to take a little bribery with you.. like say, a piece of candy or chocolate. (Be sure to take one for you too, you’re going to need it! 😉 )