Take Better Photos Of Your Kids

Take Better Photos Of Your Kids

If you are a parent with a passion for taking good photos of your kids, this guide will walk you through it and help to improve your skills. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below. Happy learning!

family happy mum dad son boy beach sea coast stormy skies suffolk and Norfolk photography photographer

Posed vs. Candid Shots

The first thing you might be asking is; “What do you mean by ‘candid and how is that going to help me take better photos of the kids’?”

Good question.

A majority of us are more familiar with traditional style shots. These are where the photographer makes you sit in a particular way, facing the camera. More often than not they ask you to say “Cheese”, and you end up with a very unnatural looking grin. In this style of posed photograph, the subject is very aware that their photograph is being taken. The photographer is completely in control of most aspects of the shot and may direct the subject to get the shot they want. In a lot of cases, this way of taking photographs works perfectly well. Especially if it is for a styled shoot like glamour or fashion. A lot of people quite like this style of photography in weddings too, although a lot are now turning towards a more candid style of shooting.

What is candid photography?

With candid photography, the photographer has much less control over the shoot. They will have to move around a lot and the subject may not even be aware that they are being photographed.

The pay-off here is that you end up with much more natural moments and expressions. These are often moments that you would never capture if you were going down the traditional, posed route.

In the first photo I am trying to control all aspects of the shot I was taking, but my daughter wasn’t impressed. In the second photo I zoom in and take a natural shot of her as she watches the snowflakes fall. Which one do you prefer?

It’s all about stealth.

There is nothing rocket science about this. You don’t have to have a first in child psychology to understand that kids love to play. This is the whole reason for their existence in their own eyes. The best images I’ve seen of children have been of them immersed in play or captured in moments that are natural to them. This might look like mud kitchen chaos, Lego building, making dens, or having a quiet cuddle with Daddy before bedtime. Whichever it is, take the opportunity and get your camera or phone out without making a fuss. Resist the urge to order smiles from them or to make them face the camera as it will immediately turn them off to the idea. Instead you will get either prompt grumpy faces and hiding, or silly face pulling. You don’t want either of these. Not only will they then look unnatural, but it will almost certainly mean a lot of waiting until they forget your intentions to capture them without them knowing.

What equipment do I need?

Most phones have brilliant cameras built in to them but honestly, for this kind of thing you just can’t beat a DSLR and a longer lens. Using a long lens means that you can be much further from your subject and zoom right in. This means that they are less likely to realise you are taking their picture but it will still look like you are right on top of the action.

Using a DSLR and longer lens will obviously require a certain level of skill. If you are unsure what to do aside opt for the ‘Auto’ function, please click here to be directed to my Beginner’s Guide To Using A DSLR At Home.

Anticipation…

One of the biggest secret weapons in candid photography is the use of anticipation. Some of the best photographers I know use this skill so well, they can take a photo at the exact moment that something significant happens time and time again. I’m talking about the moment in a conversation where everyone bursts into laughter. Or the moment when the baby smiles for the first time. Some of the best photos I’ve managed to get have been when I’ve been watching my children or at a wedding, and there is a ‘moment’ unfolding. Having the skill to predict when these moments happen will serve you well as a candid photographer.

Capture the character!

On the opposite end of the scale I have complete divas and nutters in my family. I absolutely love encouraging my kids to be themselves as much as possible. So if you child is anything like mine, embrace the mentalness! It’s who they are! Don’t try and over-rule them by demanding they stop being silly! Ultimately you will be denying them their natural behaviour, and isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to capture? After all, nine times out of ten, once they’ve done something silly or crazy, there will be a couple of seconds afterwards where they are laughing and smiling for REAL. Those are the moments you need to anticipate or predict and is when you should press the shutter.

Step it up!

For those of you who are relatively comfortable with these ideas, there are a number of ways you can really up your game and start getting some really lovely, wall-worth pictures. The first one I would suggest is to think about your surroundings. If you are shooting in your house, why not step it up and into the garden on a nice day? Get the kids gardening or digging in the flowerbeds for worms. Maybe try the local playground or the beach or forest. We are surrounded with some of the most natural beauty in the country. Get out there and make the most of it!

A rollercoaster of emotions.

One of the things you will hear me banging on about is human connection. That social interaction between humans and those that they love. For many, that can look like people and their loved ones and for many others it can look like humans and their pets. All are so important and all are brilliant subjects for your photography. The emotional side of it is easy, don’t just photograph the smiles. After all, if we are documenting our lives we may want to see all the fun and happy parts, but life is not all happiness. There is also sadness, frustrations and anger along with everything in-between. Try to capture a broad range if you can but remember to be respectful. A brilliant way to take better photos of your kids is to capture them in all the emotions.

What are they looking at?

A really great way of capturing moments is to take photos of your kids or loved ones when they are all looking at the same thing. This is called a ‘shared focus’ and incorporates that thing into the scene, giving a wider view of what is happening. You could even go one step further by using the camera as a point of view in the child’s life. So you could shoot over your child’s shoulder as they are doing some painting, or zoom in on their fingers as they do up their shoelaces. All of these things help to tell the story of their childhood and will be memories very much cherished at a later date. To take better photos of your kids doesn’t just mean taking photos of their faces!

Don’t be lazy!

As I mentioned before, you will not have a lot of control over your environment or the lighting conditions when you are shooting candidly. The trick is to make sure you get moving! The way the light hits your scene or subject is going to have a big impact on the images you take. Make sure you take advantage of it by checking all the different vantage points available to you. Don’t be afraid to lay on the ground or shoot at different angles to create more interest. It’s the difference between an average photo and an epic one.

Another pointer here would be to take a test shot to check that your exposure is correct. This is especially important if you are shooting into back-lit conditions or if it is particularly dark or light. You can always retake the shot if you need to.

Clear the decks!

Some people like to leave everything as it is and go true documentary style however others like to have a little clean-up before. Whichever way you decide to go, it’s entirely up to you. I tend to make sure any unsightly items are out of view when taking the picture. I’ve seen so many photos ruined because poles are growing out of people’s heads! Keep an eye on the surroundings when you are framing up your shot and decide whether you are happy to keep everything in view. It’s up to your personal sense of style to gage whether this is how to take better photos of your kids!

Just take the shot!

A lot of the time you have a split-second to take the shot before the moment is lost. If this is the case, make sure you have your camera set up properly for the conditions you’re shooting in. For many it’s just a quick snap on their phone, but if you are doing this with a DSLR (which I highly recommend you do), make sure that you have the basics down. Ultimately, photography is all about light and the quality of that light. Make sure you have enough of it to take the shot. If you don’t, make sure you understand how to introduce artificial light or you know how to increase your ISO to allow more light to your sensor. This will allow you to increase your shutter speed so that you can capture things in motion and freeze them (if that is what you are trying to do). Just knowing a couple of these things will increase your photography massively.

Ultimately, the best way to learn is by doing. So just get out there and take the shot!

Give up and hire a pro.

Unfortunately, photography just isn’t for everyone. While I firmly believe that anything can be learned (click here for a guide on how to Master Manual Mode), you may not have the time or the inclination to do so. In situations like this, I fully recommend hiring a professional to do it for you. It is an expense you won’t regret and the images will be cherished for generations.

For information on our family packages, please click here. If you are here looking for a candid photographer for you wedding, please click here.


A boy and his Bengal cat in the garden in summer.

Why print when you can own the digitals? Here's why...

Here’s why print wins over digitals every time.

Really, it’s simple.

It’s all about our children.

In this digital age, we are in such a rush. Everything has to be instant. It has to happen NOW. It’s the reason we have cameras built into our phones, and it’s the reason we’re so addicted to social media. The addition of cameras to our mobiles means that these platforms can provide us with instant gratification. Within a few moments, you can snap something, post it and instantly start seeing likes roll in.

As a young woman, this was really important to me. Like many other young people, what I lacked in time, I made up for in self-doubt and confidence issues. Posting photos of myself out and about with friends and family meant that I could build an army of followers. Each of them liking and commenting on every image I posted. It made me feel loved, or popular at the very least. Apparently, that was something I needed back then.

I still can't quite believe I had confidence issues when I looked like this...

Girl dressed as Jasmine in a teal and purple genie outfit. Filipina drinking wine. Suffolk, UK.

Fast forward a decade (and a bit), and I am now a confident woman (mostly) with a world of experience under my belt. I was lucky enough to marry my best friend and have two incredible children with him. Our lives are chaotic and full of fun and love. However, the time issue is even worse now, and it seems to move even quicker.

Something I have found is that over the years, as my priorities have changed, my relationship with social media and photography have too. At this point, I can almost hear you saying “Yes, yes, but you ARE a photographer, so of COURSE, you’re going to say this.” I get it. But my decision to become a photographer came way after my love affair with social media and that “quick fix”. It came after I became a mother.

Using your phone is so much easier!

One thing that I am still guilty of now is taking quick pics on my phone and then forgetting about them. This is WHILE I am a professional photographer, so I really don’t have much of an excuse. But the truth is, it’s just so much more convenient and MUCH quicker for me to take photos on my phone. My phone is on me most of the time, I don’t have to think about lighting or settings. It’s instant.

But how is this affecting our children?

Imagery is one of the most potent forms of communication on the planet. It trumps language every time. You can literally go to any country in the world and show them a photo of somewhere or something and they will recognise all or part of that image. It goes deeper than colour or form or what the weather is like in that particular scene. Images can evoke emotion, feelings, darkness or light. If you tried to describe just a few of these things to them without showing them the picture, chances are, they won’t understand a word you’re saying.

Now imagine you have a world of pictures saved on your phone, and you want your child to find their favourite. What do you think they’ll choose? Do you think they’ll find one at all? Would they understand how? If they found something they loved, would they know why? Watch as these children try and access the photos their Mums have taken on their phones. Do you see why print wins over digitals here?

It’s so much more than being in the moment.

We’ve all seen the blog posts and articles that urge mums to stop taking the pictures and be IN the images. Your children think you’re beautiful and we owe it to them to make sure they have something to remember you by once you’re gone. Morbid? Maybe. But necessary? Definitely.
So once you have taken those pictures with your little ones, why on earth would you want to make them inaccessible to them? Your memories and experiences are your legacies to your children.

Make it a ‘thing’.

Have the photos on your wall or in an album, somewhere you can look at them whenever you want to. Make your kids pick a favourite or start a photo wall in their bedroom. My 9-year-old son loves collecting holiday snaps and photos of adventures he’s had with his grandparents. He has crudely stuck them to the wall with sticky tack, and the collection is growing. It’s his favourite thing, and we often sit and reminisce over them at bedtime.

We now make a point of printing a few off each time we have an adventure together, and now his little sister wants to start one too.

In comparison to the video above, watch now as the same children receive a package of printed photos of themselves with their families. See the instant joy? Again, here is why print wins over digitals every time, at least for me.

More importantly, there is another reason we must make sure our pictures are on display and studied regularly. No-one lives forever.
It’s a subject people tend to shy away from. Still, it happens to us all. It is vital that you have recorded those memories and can access them quickly and readily for when we want to remember those we’ve lost.

Many photographers (myself included) offer digitals. Again, in this age of instant gratification, it is a popular option and makes sense if you are genuinely going to have them printed. While printing your own throws up a whole collection of other issues, I’ll leave that for another blog.

For now, let’s think about that USB of digitals that you probably paid decent money for. Where is it? Do you even know? Is it kicking around with some dead batteries and unidentified keys in a drawer somewhere? If the answer is a resounding and somewhat guilty “yes”, then go dig it out and find a decent lab to get them printed. You won’t regret it, and neither will your children.


boy laughing in a field of wheat

Boyhood Unplugged

The Knights Family

I joined Sam, Chris & Ollie on the most beautiful family lifestyle session along the Suffolk coast. Their home is surrounded by an incredible palette of earthy tones, a different crop in every field and what seems to be their own private beach. For me, as a photographer, this is heaven on earth.

To add to the incredible luck of the Pinterest-worthy scenery, this family are my kind of people. Not only my namesake, their family values and belief system strongly match my own. While it has its place, technology is only part of their son’s lifestyle. With surroundings like this, Ollie is encouraged to go outside and play. To explore his world in the only way a six-year-old boy can. Watching these guys explore and play together was a real joy for me. It encouraged me to get my own children out and playing in the dirt and the grass.

Getting splinters and grazed knees should be a rite of passage for every child. It should be the norm, and not something that only happens when you’ve realised they’ve been on their iPads for too long. Unfortunately it is becoming a real issue where children form addictions to technology as toddlers. It then becomes so difficult to break this habit as they get older as they become so used to being baby-sat by these slabs of metal, they lose the ability to entertain themselves.

This is definitely not the case for Ollie. Sam & Chris have really made the most of the land around them and Ollie has benefited and will continue to benefit from this. Already full of beans and excited to get out there, Ollie reminds me of my own childhood – before tech took over.

Get your children outside. Find feathers, throw stones into the sea and have play-fights in the sand.

They are only this small once.

To find out more about our pricing for your own family lifestyle session, click here.


lifestyle session

The Aldous Family

lifestyle session

A Lifestyle Session is for Life!

A lifestyle session is one of the most important sessions I believe I do. In my opinion, not enough importance is given to these within the family and it’s my mission to change this. I, for one, am guilty of letting time fly by without giving it a second thought, and then I realise that I have zero pictures of me with my kids or my husband. Recently I noticed that I had not been in a family photo for over a year! So when families get in touch and ask me to document their little tribe, of course I jump at the chance.

Lifestyle Session: Meet the Aldous Family

I recently did a lifestyle session with the lovely Aldous family and their new baby, Daisy. We had such a lovely time shooting in their beautiful Suffolk home and baby brother Charlie got extra time to cuddle his new baby sister. The house was gorgeous and they are clearly smitten with their new addition. Frankly, who can blame them!

Charlie showed me his room and some of his favourite cuddly toys then had a great time jumping on his bed for photos. He told me his favourite thing is dinosaurs and showed me his favourite red nose too.

Steph and Chris also asked to have Daisy photographed on Steph’s wedding dress. I gently laid Daisy on the dress with some support underneath her and took the shot using natural daylight. The dress was beautiful and she looked so small amongst all that organza!

Many families contact me to take their photos and it is such an important thing to do. Photographs are imperative to your memory and you can pass them down for generations to come. Too many women avoid the camera at all costs. But what happens when you are gone? Your children will not have anything to remember you by and this is an absolute tragedy. This article outlines exactly how this can pan out for people when they avoid the camera for vanity’s sake.

If you are interested in booking a lifestyle session, take a look at our packages and contact us.


Take better pictures of your family...

Black and white image of girl miming with a fake mic diva

This is real life.

There is something you all need to know. Nobody loves the hundreds of photos you have on your phone of your kids grimacing out the word “cheese”. Even less so the ones with the ‘cute’ snapchat filter on that makes them look like some kind of weird pixie cat. While we’re here, I’m just going to throw it out there that with that filter on, you look ridiculous too.

So there it is – I’m just telling you what you already know. And if you didn’t… you do now.

Here is how you fix it.

Taking pictures of your family, whether it be your kids or your Grandma, or you sister or your dog, should not be just about how pretty it looks. It should not be about how to manipulate them into looking like creatures from another planet. Family photography should be about capturing the moment. Immortalising snippets of your life so that you can go back and remember what it was like, for real, when the kids have grown up and flown the nest. With all the incredible mobile phones and point-and-click cameras available on the market, there should be no excuse for taking naff, meaningless photos.

Here are a few ways to improve yours:

Make sure there is enough light.

Taking photos outside, at daytime, should mean that you get crisp, clear, bright images. You will notice that the photos you take in the sunshine are always the sharpest ones right? Light is important. If you don’t have enough, switch on your flash or turn on some lamps/lights. If you don’t you risk your pics being blurry.

Focus!

It might seem obvious, but try and take the time to focus your images. On a phone, this usually means tapping on the area of the image you want to be sharp, before you take the photo. With most cameras, it means holding the shutter button down halfway to focus and then pressing it down all the way to take the picture. A lot of the modern cameraphones (such as the iPhone X) have some incredible new features, including depth of field. This means that you can focus on your subject and choose how blurry you want the background to be. Very cool for a phone.

Compose.

Think about the scene. Is there a lamppost sticking out of the top of his head? Is the top of her head cut off? Where have his feet gone?! Make sure that you have everything you want to photograph INSIDE the frame. Equally, think about what might be in the frame that you might not want in there. (What a lovely photo of your little boy! Shame the dude in the background is knuckle deep up his nostril, digging out a booger).

DON’T say ‘Cheese’!

This will NEVER get you a natural smile. Try making silly noises, making a joke, distracting or getting them to say a rude/silly word, and then take the picture when they’re laughing afterwards. It’s all about natural smiles.

Don’t get frustrated.

Let’s face it, children especially can be sooooo frustrating when you are trying to get a good photo of them. But getting ratty will not get you natural smiles. Walk away and try again later or get someone else to take the pic.

Capture the natural.

The absolute best photos of life are taken when no-one realises you are doing it. Observe, appreciate and document what happens in real life but try not to orchestrate. At the end of the day, you want to look back at these photos and remember exactly how it used to be. When your children have all grown up and flown the nest, you WILL go back over old photos. How sad would it be if all you had was photos of you and your children looking NOTHING like yourselves but highly resembling something somewhere between a cat and a Pokémon.

Answer: It would be tragic.

Last of all, if you really want some good photos of your family, whether it be portraits or lifestyle, pay to have a professional do them for you. It is one of the soundest investments you will ever make. Whether it’s documentary style or a studio shoot, you will never, ever regret having them done and on your wall.