Are you frustrated by the quality of your family portrait photography – namely, your pictures of your children? We’ve pulled together some of our best child photography tips for getting natural-looking candid portraits of your kids.
Below we’ll offer some child photography tips the pros use to get children to smile for their camera, as well as suggest some simple, inexpensive accessories you can use to get a better exposure.
Follow this advice and you’ll soon be on your way to being not just the Official Family Photographer for your own children, but for all of your friends and family as well!
When you’re photographing kids, try to avoid the temptation to direct them too much. You’ll get much more natural-looking candid portraits of kids if you just let them have fun. If you do want them to look at the camera, only grab their attention occasionally, and ask them if they can see your eye through the lens so that they look directly at it.
Children’s expressions are fleeting at best, so to be sure you don’t miss the moment, watch the action unfold through the viewfinder as much as possible, and shoot short bursts on Continuous mode to capture the fun frame by frame. If you prefer to engage with your subject, try firing off a few frames while you’re looking over the top of the camera instead.
Despite the focus of this article, don’t get too bogged down with getting sharp photos; kids move around a lot, so it doesn’t hurt to set a slower shutter speed occasionally and capture a bit of motion blur in your photos. You can use this simple panning technique to capture their movements.
Kids tire – and bore – easily, so catch them while they’re fresh and work as quickly as you can. If you do find they’re flagging, take a break for a while so they can recharge their batteries, or enlist a helper to distract them with a toy or game (right).
Although it’s best to use natural light whenever possible, flash does have its place. Outdoors it can be used to provide a striking catchlight in the subject’s eyes, while indoors it can help in low light. The key is to expose for ambient light first, and then set flash exposure compensation to, say, -2EV to make sure it’s subtle. A diffuser or softbox can also help in this respect.
A fast lens is essential for shooting flash-free portraits indoors, while indoors and outdoors it enables you to minimise depth of field and blur out the background. If you have a camera with an APS-C sensor, a 50mm f/1.4 makes a great portrait lens.
No portrait photographer’s arsenal would be complete without a reflector. Particularly useful are Lastolite’s TriGrip reflectors – they feature a sturdy handle, and reflect light on one side and let it through on the other, which means they can be used as either a reflector or a diffuser.
If you have to resort to flash to light indoor or outdoor portraits, attaching a diffuser will soften the light. The larger the diffuser, the more even the light, and Lastolite’s EzyBox Softbox is hard to beat – it assembles and attaches in seconds, and produces an impressively even spread of light
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