Tip #1 – Try to keep your background simple and free from clutter. I took a picture of my daughter yesterday in her Easter sunglasses. What is it about kids in sunglasses that is just so cute!? If I had just moved her a couple of feet forward, I could have avoided the chair and toys in the background. Clutter in the background is distracting. Your eyes go from the cute kid, to the other items in the frame. If I can’t move my subject, I can move myself. I could have changed my angle to her by moving sideways or even standing higher and looking down on her.
Below is a snapshot of my little boy in sunglasses. He walked into the room wearing this hilarious get-up. I grabbed my camera and quickly moved him in front of a blank wall by the window. I did it all so fast that he didn’t have time to get bored or complain about what I was doing. I try to keep my camera in the room we spend most of our time. Even if you are just using your iPhone, moving your child to a blank wall or simple background and finding a window will improve your pictures.
But as is the case with every kid, a lot of times you just want to hurry and snap the picture before the moment passes. Which brings me to tip #2.
Tip #2 – Hurry, take the picture before they run away or they spill something! But then, if they are willing, quickly adjust a few things and take a better photo. You can do this by adjusting the background to something more simple or clean. You can move them into better light, like shade if you are outside. Or use pretty window light if you are in the house.
Tip #3 – Put your picture in black and white. This is another way to simplify your photo, so the focus in on your subject. Below is a picture of my son doing his homework. The background is plain, but the colors of his clothes were sort of mismatched. There were a couple of things on the table that were distracting too. I could have adjusted a few things, but since I didn’t, putting it in black and white can help eliminate some of the distractions.
Tip #4 – Use a high shutter speed! Kids move FAST! Even when they are just sitting, they are wiggling and moving. If you don’t know how to manually adjust the shutter speed on your camera, no problem! Almost all cameras have a mode for that. It’s usually a picture of a little guy running. And it is usually on the top of your camera on the round dial that has “auto” mode. The camera will automatically select a fast shutter speed for you and make the necessary adjustments for the light.
Last night the light was GORGEOUS! Warm, orange, sunny light right before the kids go to bed. My baby’s hair was flying all over the place getting caught in the sunshine. Can’t you just smell the tulips! Even with a fast shutter speed, its hard to get running kids in focus. And some cameras and lenses focus slower than others. So in addition to using a fast shutter speed, it helps to also to put your camera in continuous focus mode (pull our your manual and look that up if you don’t know what I’m talking about).
Tip #5 – Use a clean, well-lit room as your background. I know some people feel like you shouldn’t stage your kids life for their pictures… and while I agree, there is nothing wrong with tidying things up a bit. As a general rule, I keep my front room pretty clean for several reasons. It’s the room visitors see when they walk in the house. I like it clean so I can go in there and breath when the rest of the house is destroyed. And its nice to have a clean room for snapshots of my kids. Our front room also has two big window so it usually has lots of light. I would first choose a room with the best window light to let the kids play in. And then just have your camera ready for when magic happens : )
Tip #6 – Clean faces and clothes! Dirty faces and clothes are so distracting. A mother loves her child even when they’ve just thrown up on her. But no one else thinks it’s that cute. It takes just a minute to wipe lunch off their face and switch their shirts to a clean one before pulling out your camera. Again, with kids moments happen all the time that you can’t wait to change their clothes. But if you know that you are going to be doing some picture worthy activities, there is nothing wrong with making sure your kids are clean… or appear to be clean ; ) But again, rules are meant to be broken. Many of my favorite pictures of my children they are smeared in food and have hair sticking everywhere.