You’ve taken your kids outside to bathe in the sun and enjoy a fun and relaxing day. You’ve also brought your camera or smartphone with you, hoping to capture the best moments. Still, you found out that taking great pictures of kids outside can turn out to be quite the struggle and leave you frustrated.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Following the advice in this article will improve the quality of your photos to a great extent and help you create precious family memories for years to come.
Help your children relax
The first thing you need to do is help your children relax. This is important so that you can capture them in all their beauty and avoid those ‘cheesy’ smiles. Kids (and people in general) look best in photos when they don’t know they are being photographed and when they are having fun.
Talking of having fun, have you considered playing silly games with your kids to bring out their best smile? Peekaboo works great on smaller children and babies. Or, you can just poke fun at them and be ready to take some wonderful shots with your camera.
Choose the place smartly
You can also choose a fun place to take the kids. You can take them to a local park or at the zoo, and let them marvel and play with things. This will help you tremendously toward taking that perfect shot. Don’t hesitate to spend some time thinking about children photography ideas outdoors and then, apply your conclusions.
Take a lot of photos
No photographer takes just one picture and then signs the day off as successful. So, take as many pictures as you can without spoiling the kids’ fun. Taking multiple photos of key moments would provide you with a leeway should one or two pictures get ruined by something, be it low light, lack of details, fuzzy frames, etc.
At the end of the day, while checking out the photos, you will have the freedom to delete those that just don’t seem to capture the special moments. To sum up, since you don’t know which photo will be the best one, take as many as you can.
Watch your kids’ timing, as well as yours
Do you want cranky photos of your cranky kids? Neither do I! So, make sure you watch both their timing and your timing. You can’t just take a nice smiling picture of your toddler if it’s about to fall asleep. Your instructions would be ignored or resisted with a cry.
The best time to take pictures of your kids is after a good sleep and meal. This would be the time when they are jumping around and happily exploring the world.
Ignore this advice if cranky kids in your frame are your weakness.
Get down and capture the kids’ perspective
Kids are normally half your height, even smaller. You cannot capture their world if you take photos of them while you’re standing. Getting down (and sometimes dirty) will give you an ability of getting closer to what they are experiencing and a way to transfer that feeling to whoever would be watching the pics afterwards.
You can get down on your knees or even your belly. This might even cause children to smile – a good sign that you need to start taking photos right away. Continue playing games with them while rolling on the grass, and they’ll join you.
Make sure the kids fill the entire frame
This is one of the most common mistakes people make when photographing children. For instance, you take a photo of your kid, but leave so much background that the kid gets lost in it. Come closer and let them fill the frame – kids’ faces are one of the primary sources of good pics.
Focus on their eyes
Speaking of kids’ faces, when taking pics of them, focus on their eyes. Grown ups have a soft spot for children’s eyes. Therefore, when taking pictures of their face, focus on getting their eyes straight by setting your focus to get them sharp. Other elements can fall out of focus, but not the eyes (except if you are hunting for another effect, of course).
Watch for natural light
Taking pics of kids outside means bathing in nature’s light. But, there are some issues regarding this light that you should consider.
Taking pics at noon can create harsh, unnatural shadows on kids’ faces and bodies, and make them squint. Try to avoid the midday period. The best time to take photos is at the beginning or the ending of the day, since the sun would bathe kids in soft, warm glow.
Find a shade
If you have no other option than working during midday, under the aggressive light, try to find a shade under a tree or a building. This will reduce squinting and provide plenty of light to take a wonderful photo without the creation of said harsh shadows – a result of taking photos under direct sunlight.
Watch out for the flash
Kids’ eyes are sensitive and don’t take irritation well. So, watch out for the flash and don’t use it too much, unless you want them to start avoiding you. Try to use as much natural light as possible, and only expose kids to artificial light in situations when they appear dark and contrasted.
Semi-professional and professional cameras, as well as the latest smartphones, come with a whole plethora of options for taking pictures. When taking pictures of kids outside, we suggest modifying the following settings:
- set to Aperture priority mode;
- set the aperture to f5.6;
- set the ISO anywhere from 200 to 600 (lower is better so aim for the lowest value possible without losing light and introducing noise);
- set the shutter speed between 1/200 and 1/500, depending on how dynamic the kids are, to avoid fuzzy photos;
- avoid using autofocus on cameras and focus on one point;
- use little to no flash;
- experiment with HDR. It will try to assemble a photo with different exposure times to get the most balanced picture, but it might not work well all the time.
These settings will give you a good head start whenever you want to take photos of your kids. You can also try taking a panoramic photo that would provide a bit more perspective and context regarding where the kids are and what they are doing.
It’s now time to start taking pictures of kids outside
If you’ve been reading this article carefully, you can expect to capture amazing photos of your kids and even get those outdoor family pictures poses right (and organize them with the help of an app like Sherish). It’s never too late to learn how to create wonderful memories and store them for years to come!