Take a parent and a child – and you can be sure a family photograph is not far behind!
Robert Watts tells you all you need to snap and share a precious moment in time
Once upon a time, photography was something we did on special occasions. Nowadays,
barely a minute goes by without somebody snapping away on their smartphone. Our tips
for taking better photos of your children work with most devices.
Let there be light
Use natural light whenever possible. If you’re shooting indoors, place your child
close to a window (see 1). If you’re outdoors then look for shadows! Don’t force
children to squint into sunshine – instead, place them in the shade, preferably against
a bright background (see 2). Ideally, catch the sun in the early morning or late
afternoon when it provides a gentle, flattering light (see 3).
Also, notice how in each photo, children’s hands are visible –
this often helps to add a touch of character.
Location, location, location
Unusual environments engage children and provide great backdrops. Look for texture
more than content. Places such as this field of maize (see 4) offer interesting colours
and textures. If you have time, practice photographing the background before asking
your child to step in to the shot.
Use features of the landscape to frame the subject – trees are ideal.
Check what’s going on behind your child – beware of distracting details in the background.
Move around, try different angles and heights and, above all, shoot at your child’s
eye-level (see 5).
Step back, zoom in
While we often ask children to smile for the camera, some of our most memorable photographs
are those that catch children absorbed in activities, unaware of our presence. In
pics 6,7,8 and 9 we can see a range of facial expressions, but no eye contact.
Try capturing the moment without intruding, by stepping back and zooming in.
Some of the best photos capture children’s relationships. Once you’ve posed children
for the shot, say things that prompt them to look at one another rather than you
(‘What’s Alfie got on
his nose?’) or think of something funny to say and be
ready to snap their reactions.
Sharpen your focus
If you’re planning to take photography seriously, it’s essential to understand the
relationship between exposure (the length of time the shutter opens) and aperture
(the amount it opens). In this respect, DSLR cameras offer far more options than
smartphones. By using a large aperture we can focus precisely on our subject while
blurring the background. In image 11, the child is close to the camera and in sharp
focus, while his classmates are blurred.
The final edit
The best way to persuade people you are a good photographer is to delete most of
your photos before you share them! Back at your computer, experiment with: cropping
to improve the composition; adjusting the brightness and contrast or removing colour
entirely. You can’t sharpen the focus though – so keep a steady hand when you press
• Bright sunlight in eyes or casting
• Silhouettes against a bright sky (unless intended).