I’m feeling quite flattered because over the past few months I’ve received multiple requests to share my favorite picture taking tips for moms. While I consider myself a beginner, I’m happy to share the tidbits of advice I try to follow myself that let me luck out with a really good shot every so often!
While I did finally invest in a really nice camera (I have a Canon 6D Mark II), I don’t think it’s necessary for day to day use. I have taken some of my favorite pictures using my iPhone’s portrait mode. However, a DSLR camera (even a base-level Canon Rebel) does allow so much more flexibility when adjusting things like shutter speed and field of depth.
And that is the most technical I’ll get with picture taking talk. Now for a few straight-forward tips that have helped me take better pictures of my kids.
Don’t use a flash. Only use a flash to capture a moment, not make a good photograph. Singing happy birthday to grandma and you’re the only camera around? Yes, use a flash to make sure you don’t miss the moment. Trying to capture your kids cooking in the kitchen or the backyard? No flash! I think I’ve used a flash once in the past year, and that is not an exaggeration.
Filtered natural light is optimal. Cloudy days make amazing pictures. Light filtering in through the sheer curtains? Beautiful! Harsh mid-day sun and shadows? It’s going to be challenging! Really, what I’ve learned most over the past couple of years is the important of learning how to use light. It makes the biggest difference and isn’t something you can easily fix in editing afterwards.
The magic hour is named that for a reason. The magic, or golden, hour is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset in which the light is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. It makes everyone’s skin gently glow and makes for wonderful pictures.
Set to a high shutter speed. Another reason adequate light is important- because you need it to use a high shutter speed. With a quicker “snap” you can capture the motion without turning the subject into a blur. Kids don’t stay still and better pictures happen when I don’t expect them to.
Take a ton. We live in the world of digital picture taking which means I can take 100 pictures and keep 1, which sometimes is the whole name of the game. For every great picture I love of my girls, there are probably about 15 of a similar pose/angle that get tossed.
Don’t force a pose. I always force a typical picture where we all stand together and smile at the camera, but those never turn out to be my favorites. I love looking back at the more natural poses and moments when the girls are in their element, being themselves. I feel those better capture life as it truly is.
Pull out the nice camera. Not everyone has one or needs one, but I’m surprised at how many times I hear someone DOES have one and just doesn’t use it because it’s a pain. Get a camera bag (I love my medium-sized camera bag for everyday use) and bring it with you. Or at least pull it out around the house!
Say “ok, yall don’t smile in this one” and watch the giggles go crazy. Snap snap snap while you jokingly scold them.
Take picture of all their expressions, not just the smiles. Though it might drive you crazy at the time, you’ll want to remember that crying face, or smirking face, or tired face.
Vary your point of view. Don’t always be straight on. I’ve recently tried doing this more often. Whether it’s capturing a scene from above or behind, or getting a snapshot of the side angle of their sweet baby faces, switching up the perspective makes pictures more interesting!
Get in the shot yourself. Be bold and ask a friend or your husband to take a picture of you with your kids. Or just set that self-timer and snap away! I love being in shots with my girls and I know one day they’ll want me in the shots too, just the way I adore pictures of me with my mom, dad, and brother when I was young. You work hard and love your family hard, and you should be in the memories, too.
I hope these tips have helped! Above all, I find the more I play around with the camera, the better I get. Sometimes I’ll just switch it to manual and start snapping because that is what has taught me more than any blog post or tip.
Fellow picture-taking mamas, do you have a favorite tip to share for capturing a great shot?!