That hair! Those dimples! That perfect, creamy, baby skin! It’s possible you have the world’s cutest children, so why not take photos that do justice to all the adorableness running through your house? Whether snapping pictures on your smartphone or pulling out your biggest, most expensive lens, there are a few easy things you can do to take better family photos.
Jessie Evans is a popular Orem-based professional photographer whose work has appeared in local and national magazines and catalogues and on numerous websites. She’s also the mother of Norah, 3, and Clayton, 1, with a third baby due in April. She gives parents the five following suggestions for taking better pictures of their kids:
1. Do a five-minute “clear the clutter sweep.”
“No one’s house is perfect, and that’s okay,” said Evans. “But you don’t want the ever-growing laundry pile to distract from the beaming face of your child.” Before you pull out your camera, take a few minutes to declutter the area where you will be taking pictures. And don’t worry about busting out the vacuum or the scrubbing brush. “I’m not saying you need to clean your house,” said Evans. “Just clear the area of distractions.”
2. Switch up the perspective.
Rethink posing your child in front of the fireplace and shooting from 4 feet away, Evans said. “Get down on her level. Not only will the perspective of the photo become more intimate, but you’ll also be able to interact better with your child and draw a more true-to-life reaction from her.” And sometimes the best photos come when you take a few steps toward or away from your child. Step in close and capture little details like tiny fingers wrapped around a crayon, or beautiful long lashes. Or, step back, taking in the whole scene and using it to tell a story.
3. Don’t strive for perfection.
Don’t get so hung up on composition and shutter speeds that you lose sight of the bigger picture, says Evans. “Some of my favorite photos are blurry photos of my children spinning and laughing together. Just because they’re not in focus doesn’t mean they’re not beautiful,” she said. “There is something almost magical when you let a moment be real and capture it in all its glory — without worrying about perfection.”
4. Take advantage of natural light.
It’s a beautiful picture’s best friend, said Evans. “Turn off those florescent and incandescent lights and move your children toward a window,” she said. “The soft, even lighting will illuminate their faces and highlight their sweet features that you want to capture.”
If you are planning on shooting outdoors, many photographers talk about a “golden hour” for taking pictures. Roughly the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset provide gorgeous lighting conditions (depending on the weather and season). There’s even a golden hour calculator app for iPads and iPhones.
5. Stop asking your kids to say “cheese.”
There are few things as unnatural as a child giving a fake smile for the camera to please a parent, said Evans. Instead of telling your kids to smile, try making them laugh. Relax, smile a little, and make picture taking fun. “Tickle them, tell a joke, do something to elicit a real, genuine response,” said Evans. “Instead of turning picture taking into a stressful, ‘please-just-smile-for-this-picture’ fight that causes your child to run in fear when he sees your camera, create an enjoyable experience your child doesn’t mind repeating.”