Have you ever tried to take photos of your kids and it turned into a frustrating, tedious epic fail? You find the perfect location; get their hair and clothing just right but they won’t cooperate. You bark orders behind the camera, shake toys, yell our bribes and plead in desperation “Just hug your sister”, or “Stop making that face!” There is another approach that can help you capture beautiful photos AND memories of the experience of taking them.
Our first tip is from Bekah Russom. Have you seen her on Instagram, @bekahrussom? She captures the beauty of everyday life on her little farm with her 4 children. We adore her work.
10 tips to help take the stress out of photographing babies and kids outside this spring.
- “Find the beauty in the simple moments instead of trying to force them into a certain position or situation. The most magical things happen when you are documenting everyday moments and seeing them through your lens” – Bekah Russom
- Use natural light and turn off your flash. This makes a huge difference and allows the photos to have a deeper, less flat look. Experiment with different angles and locations to see how the light looks. Partial silhouette, lit from the side, in the shade or full sun all produce completely different looks. Clouds can be amazing; it doesn’t need to be a sunny day for great photos. My favorite days are the partly cloudy days because the clouds soften shadows. The “golden hour” just before sunset is an beautiful time to shoot if your little one tends to be happy at that time of day. If you have an early riser, early morning light is stunning as well.
- Get down to your child’s level. If you are taking photos of a baby sitting in the grass, kneel or lay down so that your camera is level with their face. Get a few shots from that angle then try another perspective. Bring a yoga mat or small blanket for yourself if the area is wet or muddy.
- Patience is everything. Set aside some time to take your photos. Let your child play and just keep snapping (you can edit later and just keep your favorites). Sometimes it takes 200 shots to get 4 that you absolutely cherish. Let children roam and explore, capture their natural expressions and reactions to the world around them. Don’t rush. Some of the best photos you will get are candid photos.
- Include things your child loves. Go to a park your child loves, a pond, or meaningful location. Bring along a favorite toy or special item to get a few pictures with. Familiar things and locations tend to make children and babies feel comfortable and more relaxed.
- Don’t be bossy, go with the flow. 9 out of 10 times you child will NOT stand still and pose exactly as you imagined. That is totally expected with young children and a good thing. You don’t need to keep telling them what to do, you will find when you don’t have an exact plan; it allows you to experiment rather than stick to a set idea you are struggling to capture.
- Dress the part – or don’t! If you want to coordinate clothing colors with the location or style of photo you want to capture, choose mostly solid colored clothing with an accent color item that goes with the location. Rather than overthinking clothing, hair and accessories, just capture your child in something you love seeing them wear. (Some of my favorite photos of my daughter are of her in a big tutu she loved). The memories that go along with that part of her childhood are more meaningful than just picking a carefully coordinated outfit.
- Don’t forget the details. Those chubby cheeks, tiny fingers, toes, first curls of hair and toothless grins are all worth a close up. Vary your shots from full body, at a distance and close up.
- Bring someone with you to assist. This is especially helpful if you have more than one child. A friend or family member can wrangle run away toddlers and lead them back to the area you want them to be in.
- Catch them off guard. Children have different reactions to being in front of a camera. Some are nervous, others act crazy for extra attention and some just plaster a fake smile on and stiffen up. Talk to them, ask questions and just keep shooting. Show them things in the location then step back while they check things out. Catch them doing what they do, chances are they forget they are being photographed and relax.
Here are a few spring inspired photo ideas to try:
- Splash in puddles
- Flower fields
- Nature walk
- Play with bubbles
- Wagon ride
- Farm visit
- Pick fruits or veggies
- Play in the pool or sprinklers
- Visit a park or playground
- Written by Megan Young, Social Media Manager, Once Upon A Farm and mother of two.