Professional family photographer, Robert Auckland, shares his top tips to help you take natural, unposed pictures of your children that work every time!
Time with your kids flies by and wouldn’t it be great to capture a few more of those moments as they grow up with your camera? People often miss those moments because kids move quickly and have no patience when it comes to posing for a camera, but there are lots of ways to slow them down and make them forget you are there…
1 See the world form a child’s perspective
You need to exist in their world and get down to their level. This often means wearing old clothes and getting dirty – I promise you it will be worth it! If you can kneel or even lie down, and shoot from kids eye level or below, your photos will show that you were there in the moment with them. It will make the viewer feel that they were once again a child and you will double your success rate taking photos of your little ones!
2 Plan for fun!
Use simple, natural activities where kids can flow and totally forget about the camera. Small things like bubbles and bug hunting work better rather than large plastic toys. Water activities are also great: take a bottle of water, squirt down a puddle in a scenic spot and get your kids to build a bridge using natural materials, then they can make handprints on a wall afterwards. Even if you do call their names occasionally so they look to camera, your pictures will look real and believable rather than staged and cheesy.
3 Get out of the sun and into the shade
Swap harsh shadows on faces for soft flattering light in the shade. This is so counter-intuitive and you really do have to force yourself to head into the shade of a tree on a beautiful bright sunny day. The first photo below was taken in bright sun and the second by heading into the shade- the shade image is soft, even and doesn’t look dark at all. The bright sun looks great to your eye because your eye can compensate for harsh shadows, but your camera simply can’t deal with bright sun and harsh dark shadows. Make yourself to head for the shade and it will totally transform your portraits.
Taking great photos is not about expensive cameras or even a great level of technical skill. It’s much more about realising that the best photos are planned for and made, and they don’t happen by chance. It doesn’t take much planning though and a few simple water activities or collecting different grasses from a meadow isn’t exactly hard work to dream up. Hopefully you positioned the activities in a shady spot in the garden if it was sunny to avoid those dark shadows on faces.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, you’ve spent time at their level doing and playing in their world so your pictures feel like you were there. If you do one of these things your pictures will improve, if you can master all three then you will soon be making amazing pictures.
For sure its worth a little effort – imagine a whole morning of fun for them and decades of smiles later on as you look back through the lovely images you took with your kids.
Robert Auckland is a dad and family photographer, and the words above were based on a workshop ‘Take Better Photos of your kids’ for Barnados at The Pound, Corsham, Wiltshire.