4 Easy To Remember Ways You Can Take Better Pictures of Your Kids

Time is precious, and life is short. You don’t want to miss a single moment with your kids. Every first step, every laugh, every adventure they go on. But it’s hard. 

I have 5 younger siblings; I know the struggle! Kids move fast. They do random and completely unexpected things. They make the cutest faces at the worst times imaginable. They never want to work with a camera!

It's easy to want to give up trying to take good pictures of them, and just settle for cheesy family photos every 3 years. But if you want to learn how to take better pictures of your kids and capture more memories, read on.

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1. The best camera is the one you have with you.

You can’t take a picture with the camera you left at home in the top drawer of the cabinet. It's kind of obvious, right?

The absolute best way - and don't be offended if this seems too simple - to take better pictures of your kids, is to have something that you can take pictures with. Any picture is better than no picture!

Make sure that you always have a camera with you. And guess what? Phones count. For most of us, this will be the case.

| Guess what? Phones count!

We carry our phones everywhere we go. Every. Where. And the great thing is, 95% of smartphones today will capture really good quality pictures. If you have a super fancy camera that you can use (like I do), awesome for you. But your smartphone is more than good enough.

So just remember this: The camera you use isn't what matters - it’s that you capture the memory that matters. You can't use what you don't have.

2. Follow the rules.

There are certain “rules” that are standard in photography. The point of having these rules is that they work

Here are a few:

  • The rule of thirds. Pretend that you're camera/smartphone screen has two lines going horizontally over the screen and two lines going vertically. These lines split the screen into thirds. The four points where the lines intersect are where you want to pay attention to. These are the four important focus points. Place whatever you want to highlight in your photo smack dab in the middle of one of these points, because that point is what the eye will be naturally drawn to look at first.
  • Shoot above your subject. Taking pictures of people from below is usually not flattering. Your 6-year old isn't likely concerned about his nose looking funny, but if you want to get the best, most flattering pictures, place your camera just a bit above the eye level of your subject. Not too much, but 2-4 inches above eye level will do wonders to make you look like a professional photographer!
  • Balance your photos. What the heck does "balancing your photos" mean? Simply put, it means not having too much or too little going on with your photo. You don't want lots of action on the left side of your photo with a bunch of blank space on the right side. Using "blank space" and interesting objects to help fill the photo and balance it out will go a long ways to making your pictures more appealing to the eye.
Note the use of the Rule of Thirds in this photo. His head is set on one of the four focal points in the image.

Note the use of the Rule of Thirds in this photo. His head is set on one of the four focal points in the image.

Of course, the point of understanding the rules is that you can know when to break them. Do that. Experiment. Go crazy. Try fun things.

But if you're not sure what to do, stick with the rulebook. Your kids will thank you when they start to actually like the photos you post on Facebook of them! And that is nearly impossible to do (looking at you, Dad).

3. Shoot when it’s bright out.

The easiest way to make sure you get a great shot, is to take it when there is enough light. Smartphone pictures in the dark very rarely turn out great, even with expensive DSLR cameras. It’s best to try to shoot outside and in daytime when possible. 

Of course, life isn't perfect, so you won't always have the perfect situation to work with. Do what you can with what you have.

A note for when shooting outside: shoot either directly into the sun or directly away from the sun (I prefer shooting into the sun in most situations). Don't take pictures with the sun to the subject's right or left. This will result in funky lighting on the faces and won't make anyone happy.

Get the sun behind the subjects for a brighter background, or have the subjects looking into the sun for a dark background.

I will say that most of my favorite pictures are ones I have taken at sunset or sunrise. But trying to get kids to wake up - much less smile - early in the morning is next to impossible. So if you want to increase the odds of capturing an awesome memory, do it as the sun goes down. 

4. Forget about saving the memory and savor the moment.

That's right. 

Sometimes the best picture you can take is the one in your memories. We don't always need to have every moment saved with a photograph. This will seem to contradict what I've been saying for the entire length of this article, but we often get so caught up in trying to "capture the moment" with a camera, that we miss the chance to create memories with our loved ones.

We get so caught up in trying to capture the moment, that we miss the opportunity to create the memory of a lifetime.

Put the camera down. Shut off your phone. Breathe in the roses. Take in the sunset. Hold them a little closer.

Spend your precious time with the precious people you love, because life is short and it's going fast. You don't need a snapshot of every graduation, every birthday, every game. 

Your kids will remember the times that you were completely present with them much more than having to pose for "another frickin' picture Daaaad."

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Japheth is a writer, photographer, and educator who loves celebrating people and learning how to make life awesome.

 

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