Today’s post was written by my brother James, who loves photography as much as I do. He is also really great a explaining in amateur-friendly terms how to take great pictures of kids! He wrote this post in our secret family Facebook group for my sister who just bought her first DSLR camera, and I asked if I could post it here. While I shoot in full manual mode, James uses the camera’s settings, which he explains clearly in this post. James has tried most of the digital camera brands on the market, so these tips should work across most camera makes. If you are looking for tips on how to take amazing pictures of your kids with any DSLR camera, this post is for you! You might also want to check out these other posts:
- Newborn photography tips
- Tips for taking great family photos
- Taking pictures and editing pictures
- Life unposed: kid photography
- Photography for kids (kids taking photos)
How to Take Great Pictures of Kids
- Crouch down and shoot at their eye level.
- You tell the camera to focus by pushing down the trigger button halfway. In normal mode, this will freeze the focus and exposure setting until you take the picture. In sport mode (see #12) the focus will still track until you take the picture.
- Pay attention to your background. Shooting in a suburban neighborhood is hard because the background is distracting most of the time. Back yards can provide a pleasant background for taking photos. Streets and houses are generally distracting. You can still get good pictures though. Shallow focus helps with that too.
- Don’t use your flash. Your camera can gather enough light to shoot with the light coming in from a window if you’re in the house and will work great outside. You can sometimes turn the flash on to balance out a bright background but that is tricky to get right.
- Direct sunlight is hard to deal with. Your best pictures will be on cloudy days or during “golden hour” when the sun is rising or setting. Indirect or filtered sunlight is the best light for portraits.
- Take lots of shots. I recommend Picasa (free download from Google) for photo editing on Windows. If you get an Apple computer, I love the built in photo editor called Photos. You can also buy a card reader and upload photos to your iPad to edit using Apple software, but you will soon run out of space.
- You don’t need to keep all the pictures you take. I did that for many years but it’s a waste of space. Go through and keep your favorites and delete the rest. You can always take more.
- Candid shots will always be your favorites. They let your kids’ personalities shine through.
- ISO is the sensitivity of your image sensor. ISO 100 is low sensitivity for daylight. The higher numbers are more sensitive. Above 1200 or so you will start to get some “noise” in the image. I always let the camera set this automatically.
- I usually shoot in Av mode, which lets you set the aperture of the lens. The aperture is how wide the lens opens. I usually open it up all the way by turning the dial on the top of the camera all the way to the left. This gives you shallower focus so that your background is out of focus and fuzzy, which makes the picture look more natural and less flat. As you open up the aperture, the f-stop will get smaller; that’s the number that will change when you spin the wheel. Small f-stops let more light into the camera and give you a shallow focus field, while higher f-stops let in less light and give you deeper focus.
- Here’s what the mode dial on your camera means (I skipped over the self explanatory ones):
- M is full manual where you set all the parameters yourself.
- Av is aperture priority where you set the aperture and the camera adjusts ISO and shutter speed to get a good exposure
- Tv is shutter speed priority where you set that and the camera adjusts the other
stuff to get a good exposure
- P is program auto where you program it some special way if you want.
- Green is full auto
- If the kids are running around I will use sport mode (there should be a picture of a guy running on the mode dial). This sets the auto focus to track the subject up until you snap the picture.
Do you have any tips to add?