Thursday, April 25, 2013

Photographing children Part I

I get a lot of emails asking questions about how I begin to take pictures of my son. To tell you the truth, it's something I have learned (& continuing to learn) over the past two years out of necessity and I have never been taught by anyone else.
When I looked at how much it was going to cost me to have newborn pictures taken of my son I was shocked. I felt like the photographers I loved deserved every penny of their requested fee (and then some) but I just couldn't afford to spend $1,200 for pictures at the time. So the hubs and I decided a few months before Olly came along that we would invest in our own DSLR and try to capture as many "professional looking" moments throughout our sons life ourselves. This declaration of new parent obligation to photograph his life was truly the only reason I ever picked up a camera...but I am so glad I did because it was just the catalyst I needed to dip my toes into the blog world and it has saved us a bunch of money. So today I thought I would break down all that I have learned (so far) about taking pictures of children (mostly my own boy) and share it with all of you...

...because at the end of the day we all want to capture our children and the children that surround our lives in the purist, happiest light and spread it around the world....a child's smile is infectious.  

So here is part I of how I photograph children. 

1. Throw out the idea of rules. Children are free spirits, capture that. I adore photographing kiddos outside because they normally are the happiest this way. You do not have to attempt a "studio photo" for their annual picture to be taken. My son's first birthday picture was literally taken on the side of the road in an antique chair I purchased for $60 that we toted around in the back of our SUV until I found the perfect spot. I put him in a handsome outfit and chose to leave his shoes off (making it more casual) but photograph him in a more rustic setting. There were no rules followed whatsoever. They are still some of my very favorite photos shot to this day. 

2. Have the pictures you take capture the timeline of their life. Have it tell a story by showing where they live during this time in their life... what their favorite toy or food is, or even what their room looks like. These pictures will have a deeper impact when they are grown because you will be able to look back at the photos like a time capsule. When we first moved to Point Reyes Oliver was only seven months old. I wanted to capture where it was that he was living as a newborn, as well as one of our favorite walking trails to go on daily. These pictures were a result of wanting to capture that moment in time and what it looked like during our evening family walks.  

3. Use distractions to help you get that perfect photo. I normally do this by having the hubs jump up and down to make him laugh, blow bubbles, bribe him with chocolate (which almost always works) or even using a prop to hold his attention. I often do this with a toy or a balloon.

4. I like to photograph in natural light wearing mostly neutral color clothes. However, I do love using fun accessories.  Sunglasses, a hat, a hair bow, fun stripped tights, polka dot socks, a pop of color on his vest, a tie. I still like to capture the childlike essence just not overwhelm the photo with pattern. I am sure this is not the case all the time or for everyone, but it works for us. 

5. Be prepared for anything! They might be crying, giggly, not interested in looking at you or decide they will not smile...these are the many phases of children, and I often find that they go through all of these emotions during one single photo shoot. There are times I choose to embrace these moments because they are what he is doing at the time (like crying on Santa's lap) and that's ultimately what I am trying to remember and capture. Or I just remind myself to be flexible and be willing to re-shoot (this is the beauty of doing it yourself). Here is a recent example where Oliver decided he was not going to smile. However, I love this picture so much and cherish it just the same. Here he is channeling his own inner Maverick...Top Gun style

So serious, yet so cute...right? I know this may seem like a lot of information and maybe I am telling you things you amazingly talented peeps already know. I just know these are some tips I wish someone would have told me so I didn't have to waste so much time trying to be perfect and could have used more time experimenting and practicing. Because at the end of the day children are anything but just never know what you might capture if you are being creative, patient, and flexible.

Here this little girl was looking at birds in the air...however, it looks like she was striking a pose. I absolutely adore this picture and lucked out (and thankfully was there to capture it)

I promise to cover the other 5 tips for photographing children in part II next week. 

Let me know if you are still liking these posts. I sometimes feel silly for writing them since I am not a photographer but want to make you lovelies happy!


  1. love it! top gun style is my absolute favorite!!!!!


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