I love photos. As a kid, I spent all my allowance on scrapbook materials. I carried around disposable cameras like it was my job and became good friends with the people who worked in the Walgreens photo department. I spent hours looking back through old photo albums and listening to the stories behind each of the moments. When cellphones finally started taking pictures, I took as many as I could and I will never forget the first digital camera I got as a Christmas gift. I always loved photography but never felt like I could be a “real” photographer. After graduating college, I worked at a coffee shop and had a crazy amount of time on my hands. It was then that I started my blog and also my journey to learn how to actually take the photos that I loved the most. Now I get paid to take photos and I would have never imagined that 10 years ago when I sat in that coffee shop googling photography tutorials.
One of the reasons I learned photography was so that I could capture my family — our history and moments. It was something I valued and cherished from my childhood and I wanted to really embrace as I got older. But you don’t need to buy a bunch of expensive gear and do a bunch of research to take great photos of your kids, you can use what you have to capture moments and memories! That camera you carry around in your back pocket is not only handy, it is also pretty powerful!
I wanted to share some easy tips with you to help you capture better photos of your kiddos. Because as they say, the time really does fly by!
10 Tips for Taking Better Photos of your Kids
USE NATURAL LIGHT
If you are inside, find the windows. Note which rooms in your house are naturally brighter during the day. Photograph in those spaces. As much as you can, move your kids closer to the windows (like if you are setting up a craft or activity to photograph) and have your kids face the window (not be behind them.) Natural light helps your camera capture the best colors and details. It has to work much harder in low light situations, which sacrifices the quality.
SET THE STAGE/ CLEAR THE CLUTTER
Get everything ready to go BEFORE you invite your kids into the situation. You do not have to have a super clean house to get a perfect picture, but do take a couple minutes to get clutter out of the frame. I can’t tell you how many times I have moved a Rudy’s cup out of the shot, kicked a toy into the other room, thrown laundry to the side of the bed, or arranged a throw blanket to cover our phone chargers by the couch. A little bit of clutter can be a huge distraction. It doesn’t take long to pick up a small area to grab a photo!
TAKE PHOTOS IN OVERCAST OR MOVE INTO THE SHADE
Outside it is much easier to get bright photos; however, sometimes the sun can cause harsh shadows and squinty eyes. Move your subject into the sun so that the light on their face can be even!
MOVE YOUR BODY (not the zoom on your camera)
Zooming in on your camera sacrifices the quality of the image. Instead of using your phone to zoom, move your body towards your subject. If you want the image tighter, crop later.
NOTICE THE DETAILS
We tend to take pictures from the same point of view — more as portraits. Getting all of our kids in the photo and looking at us. But we can use other types of photos to help tell the same story (or even say more!) Like little hands in yours and the flowers you walk past on your daily walk. Instead of the typical photo, I took this one with my phone on a walk and it is one of my favorites of childhood in this season.
TAKE IN THE BIG PICTURE
Take a step back. And then do it again. Sometimes this means walking far away and sometimes it just means capturing more of what is going on around your kid in that moment. I have a tighter photo of Hilde in the morning going through my nightstand, but I love this one that shows the pillows and blankets and mess of our bed in the morning!
Feel free to move up and down to try to get a new angle or perspective. I love shooting on the same level as my kids to see the world more of the way they do. I also love pointing the camera directly down on them playing. Play around with new perspectives, it is funny how just a different angle can make the photo come alive!
It is really easy to get in the habit of saying “Okay smile! Say cheese! Look at me!” but when you just let your kids be kids, you can capture their personality and the moment in a new way. I’ll forever love this photo of Hilde on her tippy-toes.
USE A PRESET
Presets are like Instagram filters, but better. You can download Lightroom on your phone for free and use that to edit your photos for Instagram or printing. I sell the presets I use on all my photos here but a quick search for “lightroom mobile presets” will bring up many you can choose from! What is nice about a preset is that it is a set of edits that applies all at once and then you only have to make minor tweeks after that. If you care about how your photos look on your instagram feed or you wonder how some people have a certain look and feel to their photos, a preset pack may be a good investment for you!
*You can use code COSMOMBLOG to save 25% off my presets if you are ever interested in trying them out.
While you can take great photos on your phone, it is true that you can take better ones on a DLSR camera. Do you love taking photos and want to challenge yourself to learn photography? Do it! You don’t need to go back to school to learn how to use a DLSR camera — there are plenty of online programs. Again, a quick google search will bring up tons of articles and YouTubes to watch! A local Colorado Springs photographer has a course and collective if you are interested in learning more and want a place to start. It’s never too late to try something new!
Those are my 10 tips! Half of these photos were taken with my camera, but the other half were on my phone!! So you CAN take great phone photos that you will cherish as your kids grow! Give yourself freedom to take too many pictures (some of them that look bad 😉 ) to get the photo you love! Have fun!