Below is an article I recently wrote for a Muslim Mums Magazine about photographing kids. I hope you enjoy the read and I hope it gives you some ideas about how to capture your sweet munchkins!
Cheese No More! 7 Tips for Capturing Memorable Photos of Your Kids
By Mehdiya Jaffer
No matter what kind of camera you have, you can capture great photos of your little ones. In this article, we visit some easy, practical and fun ways to take better pictures.
1) Golden hours
Although this tip may not always be practical, it is helpful to keep in mind that dawn and dusk are mother nature’s helping hand for beautiful photos. When the sun is low during the early hours of the morning or during the hours before sunset, the light is softer, warmer and generally much more flattering in photos and portraits. You may have noticed that photos taken at high noon on a sunny day seem harsh, shadowy and too bright. So, get out there with the kids during the early hours or in the evening for some fantastic looking light in your photos. If you do happen to be out at noon, look for shady areas to take pictures in.
2) Rule of thirds
The Rule of Thirds, also referred to as the Golden Ratio, is used in many aspects of art, including photography. Following the rule achieves artistic results that are pleasing to the eye. The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking down an image into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts (as seen in the illustration). Endeavour to place your subjects at the points where these lines intersect. Studies have shown that when viewing images people’s eyes are drawn to the areas of intersecting points rather than the center of an image. Most digital cameras have the option for you to turn on this grid so you may want to start experimenting with it! The next time you feel like centralizing your subject, think Golden Ratio! Tip: Please don’t think that every photo needs to follow this rule! It is only a guideline to experiment with!
3) Don’t make the flash your trustee!
Simply put, avoid using your camera flash if you can use available light! The handy flash that pops up on your camera is admittedly very handy in low light situations. Unfortunately it can leave you with very flat, plastic looking images that lack detail. Try taking photos near large windows or switch on the lights to avoid using the flash. However, when used effectively, the flash on your camera can be very useful to fill in shadows and compliment the available light, such as in bright sunshine. And of course, if your pictures are turning out too dark or blurry you may not have any other option but to resort to the flash but before you do that, play around and check the results you get without it.
4) Tell a visual story
Rather than harassing your kids to smile and say cheese for the camera (lets face it we all do it – including me!), try a more sneaky approach. Give them a little assignment (eg: “why don’t you go and smell that flower”) or simply let them carry on playing whilst you sneak some photos from a distance. This strategy often results in photographs that have meaningful visual stories. The next time you force your kids to sit still for a photo, consider giving them a purpose or activity (eg: “lets paint a picture”) – you may surprise yourself with the gems you capture and the best part is, years later, the photos will tell you a cute little visual story that will most likely hold some genuine memories!
5) Shift your perspective
As tempting as zooming into your child’s face is, stop and think for a moment – Consider the different options you have. Each photograph can be approached from so many different angles and perspectives to maximize the visual interest of the photo! Consider the different results you might get if you choose to shoot from up above, down below, at eye level, from a distance, at a close range, from behind your subject….the options are literally endless! Remember also to capture the smaller details you never want to forget – the adorable stomach rolls, chubby thighs and tiny toes. So the next time you are about to click the shutter, take a quick moment to consider your options. Tip: Don’t think for too long, you might miss the moment!
6) Don’t be lazy, print it!
I have seen way too many people store their beautiful photographic memories on iPhones, hard-drives and computers! Please do yourself a favour and PRINT your favourite images- when it comes to photos, there is nothing like a hardcopy! Make albums or scrapbooks! Frame some pictures! Stick them up on the fridge! Send prints to the gramps! Displaying your pictures effectively and sharing them with friends and family will motivate you to keep taking good pictures through all the phases of your child’s life!
7) Have fun!
Taking things too seriously is never a good idea! So, keep all of the above tips in mind, but most importantly, pack your camera everywhere you go, relax, snap away, and have fun capturing your special memories!
Mehdiya Jaffer is a professional wedding and lifestyle photographer. You can find more information about her work by visiting her website: www.mehdiyajafferphotography.co.uk