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Picture Perfect: 5 tips for taking better photos of your kids

Stephanie Withers

10 July 2017

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3 minutes
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I’ve always loved documenting life through photos, however I’ll be the first to admit I’m in no way a professional photographer! However, over the years I’ve learnt a few little tricks for anyone else who enjoys photography as a hobby. I currently use an inexpensive Nikon DSLR and my iPhone, which has a great camera itself.

It’s true that photography can often seem overwhelming to begin with, there’s so much to learn from what lenses to use to intimidating camera settings. However, I’ve found the best way to learn is to simply dive straight in. When the interest is there, you’ll be amazed at how much you can teach yourself. Here are a few tips that have helped me along the way and some photos from a recent family day out to Aberdeen’s beachside amusement park - tips you can put into practice when out and about this summer!

Steph shares her tips for taking photos of the family ahead of the summer

1. Invest in a good camera (second hand can make it more affordable)

If you’re looking to take beautiful photos then having a high-quality camera is a must. Whilst phone cameras are getting better and better, they still fall short in a number of key areas which is why they often lack that ‘professional’ edge. It used to be that DSLR’s were the camera of choice for getting great results, however, mirrorless cameras are now a very high standard and have the benefit of being small in size. They both let you shoot images in RAW, which allows for higher quality images and gives you more control editing later.

Using auto settings (where you simply point and shoot) work well on most cameras, however, as you get more confident you can start playing around with your camera’s manual modes. For example, when shooting images of children, you’ll want to keep your shutter settings higher to get sharper images and avoid the blur of fast movements. There’s nothing worse than uploading your photos to see a number of them are out of focus, which is why it’s worth watching a Youtube tutorial or two so you can test these settings out for yourself. Don’t worry about spending a fortune, you can buy second-hand camera bodies and lenses from Amazon or eBay. That way you can see how much you use it before deciding on whether you’d like to invest in one of the more expensive models.

Steph shares her photography tips as an amateur photographer

2. Lighting (try to avoid bright mid-day sunlight)

Shooting with good light can make all the difference to your photos. It’s best to avoid mid-day when the sun is at its brightest, therefore the morning or late afternoons tend to work best. However,  this can be a challenge (especially on a day out) so seeking out shaded areas will help diffuse any direct sunlight. The reason being bright sunlight causes harsh shadows and over exposed highlights that even editing can’t fix. You can avoid this by making sure the sun is not falling directly onto your child’s face (no squinting needed) and instead try reposition to capture a side lit or back lit profile, which can look lovely and dreamy.

Lighting is the key to a good photo, so make sure you avoid harsh sunlight

3. Keep it natural (don’t force a pose or smile)

Something I’ve learned when taking photos of our boys is not to pressure them into smiling or posing for the camera. Occasionally I’ll try make it into a game, for example: “can we count to 20 next to that lovely white brick wall?!” However, more often than not the results aren’t very natural. The best way to get those genuine smiles is to simply relax and focus on having fun together as a family. The right moment to take a picture or two always presents itself and the results are worth being patient for! Some of my favourite shots of my family are the ones I shoot when they’re focused on something else entirely. Perhaps it’s the writer in me, but I find there’s a real magic and authenticity in candid photos - after all, photography is all about visual storytelling.

Candid photos are Steph's favourite, as they help to tell a story

Try to snap photos without the kids posing, as you may get more interesting photos

4. Have fun with angles

As discussed above, I like to get creative and try out a range of angles depending on the action or lighting. Kids are constantly moving so it can be a bit of a workout trying to keep up with them, but I find the best pictures come out when you’re crouching down at their level interacting with them. I’m a big fan of off centre shots (especially framing a photo with the subject in the corner). Something else to remember is you can always crop later. Unless I’m using zoom for depth of field, I try not to use it too much as it gives you more freedom when you sit down to edit, which brings me nicely onto my final point...

Try taking photos at the same level as the kids, rather than looking down

5. Editing!

Editing is what truly transforms a photo. It’s incredible how an average picture can be buffed up into a gem! My favourite programme for this is Lightroom, which is a great starting point into the world of photoshop. For most photos adjusting things like exposure, temperature, contrast and shadows will help make your images more vibrant. However, if you find the programme a little scary at first, beginners can get professional looking results by using a ‘preset’, which works like a filter on Instagram. The bonus is after you’ve applied it, you still have control to tweak the settings to perfectly suit your image.If you’re editing on your phone one of the best apps is VSCO Cam, which has many of the great settings Lightroom does. In my opinion, if

If you’re editing on your phone one of the best apps is VSCO Cam, which has many of the great settings Lightroom does. In my opinion, if there are any two editing programmes to buy, it’s these two! Even better, Lightroom offers a free trial and VSCO Cam itself is free to download (you simply buy any extra filters you like the look of) so you can test them out first to see what you think!

Do you plan to put get snapping this summer? Feel free to ask a question in the comments below, or share your own tips with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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Stephanie Withers

10 July 2017

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Stephanie Withers is a blogger, freelance writer, compulsive coffee drinker and mother to two wildlings, Finlay (3) and Parker (1).

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