Those of you who follow me on social media will have noticed that I have lovely, shiny, ‘profesh’ looking (yet natural) profile piccies of me and the kids. (I did ask Adam but he didn’t want to partake, such a shy, wallflower type). Well, my friend Kate Chappell is the clever little so and so responsible for them. She is a local mum who takes the most beautiful, real, honest photos of families. I asked her to do a shoot for me and also to share some tips to help us all take better family photos.
Here’s what she shared! I’ve dotted some pictures from our shoot throughout too. Enjoy!
1. Don’t tell them you want to take their picture!
If your kids are anything like mine, as soon as you get a camera out and start telling them to smile nicely, they’ll do anything but. Let them run around a bit and take photos of them doing what they love best, playing with toys, jumping off things, generally letting off steam. Then “invent” a game which involves them all standing / sitting next to each other and looking at the camera. My own personal favourite is shouting directions at them to make stupid faces: “sad face”, “excited face”, “ugliest face” etc., then I take the pics when they’re waiting for me to give them the next direction. They’ll generally be looking at the camera, engaged and smiley. (Usually) works every time!
2. Get down to their level.
The best way to get your kids to engage with you while you’re taking photos is to get down to their eye level and engage with them. Keep chatting while you take the photos, and they’ll often forget the camera’s even there. And you’ll be able to capture all their brilliant facial expressions up close, rather than from above.
3. Watch the sunshine.
It’s really tempting to grab the camera on a really sunny day and try to make the most of blue skies and blazing sunshine. All too often though, you’ll end up with squinty eyes, washed-out colours and annoying sunspots where the rays have hit your lens. Instead, on a sunny day try and position your kids under some shade – trees, porches, or big sun umbrellas work well as you’ll still see some of that lovely sunshine reflected in their eyes.
4. Explore the world of windows.
For a professional-looking portrait shot indoors, you don’t need fancy studio lights. Windows work beautifully as an alternative and the natural light they provide is softer and more beautiful than anything you’ll find in a photo studio. Move some chairs close to the window, make sure any artificial lights in the room are switched off and maybe have a clear-up of the room behind, just to make sure there isn’t clutter distracting from your children’s lovely faces.
5. Get to know your camera.
You might be using a fancy DSLR, a point-and-shoot digital camera or just your phone to take photos of your kids – it really doesn’t matter and you can get some wonderful results from the simplest of cameras. The main thing is to get to know what all the buttons and dials do, so that when you come to take your photos you can concentrate on getting the best out of your kids, rather than worrying about settings or whether you’ve just accidentally deleted the photos you’ve taken. YouTube is full of tutorials on every camera under the sun, so it’s worth getting a few techno tips before you get snapping.
One more extra bonus piece of advice…!
For me, the most important thing is photographing children as they really are, rather than a tidied-up, sitting-still, forced-smile version. If a client tells me I’ve really captured their children’s personalities in a family shoot, I know I’ve done a good job. Remember that when you look back on the photos you take of your kids, it will be the ones where they’re giggling, having a strop, covered in mud, riding the dog, or falling asleep on daddy that will really make you smile, so try not to get too frustrated if you can’t get your kids to sit still for a perfectly-posed group shot. I can guarantee the chaotic photos you take while trying for that “perfect” shot will be the ones you’ll treasure in years to come.