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How to photograph your kids

Rob Cruse (anitasm)

Keywords: composition, technique, guides, tips, kids, family, pets

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Hey - what's the point of an article on photographing your kids? Anybody can do that. Just pick up the camera and snap away - right? Well, that is certainly true if you are looking for 'snaps', but with a little more thought your snaps can become more than a record of a moment; they can start to capture the feelings, expressions and character of your children.

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"Just kicking around"


This discussion is centered around capturing the candid (informal) moments of your childs life; in your home, at play, at a birthday party, wherever memories might be created. While the discussion assumes you have a camera that allows control over some basic functions, most of the ideas here can also be applied to the simplest 'point and shoot' camera.


Lets start with some basics that apply to all sorts of photography, including photographing your children. Of course, all the rules are there to be broken.


Not every photo of a child needs to be a 'candid' shot, just most of your shots! The true character of a child comes out when they are just 'doing what they do' (luckily this is most of the time).

Grasp these moments, and learn to photograph them. As soon as a child realises they are being photographed, their expression changes to either grim determination or 'tom foolery'. This is fine for the odd shot, but they are probably not the sort of images you want filling your album.


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Have you got bad knees? A bad back? Find some good painkillers! It is good to photograph kids from their eye level. Got a toddler? Sit on the ground. A 4 year old? Now you're on your knees. 5 month old learning to push up from their tummy? Well, this is where it gets really serious. On the ground on your stomach, propped up on your elbows. You get the idea. Of course, this rule can be broken at a moments notice.

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Get used to watching the kids through the viewfinder of your camera. Watch and observe what is going on, and be ready to squeeze the trigger when the moment comes. Don't just look through the viewfinder; actually SEE what is happening and imagine how it will work as an image. Kids don't stay still for long, and the sublime moments of an expression or motion are fleeting.


Pre-focus if you need to, or use focus tracking if you like, or focus manually if it works for you. Whatever you do, you need to have the camera to your eye and your finger mostly down on the trigger. If you have a 'point and shoot' with a long shutter delay, learn how to work around it (usually by pre-focusing).

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Don't just take one shot. Kids have an unlimited supply of expressions. If you like a composition, grab a shot (they might move on any second). If they stay, and the expression changes, grab another couple. Zoom in, Zoom out, change your perspective. When you review them, one shot will always stand out, and it probably won't be the first in the series.


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Originally written on April 18, 2004

Last updated on December 19, 2017

Rob Cruse Rob Cruse (anitasm)

Awarded for his published articles in the Resources Laureate Ribbon awarded for winning a Nikonians Annual Photo Contest

Melbourne, Australia
Basic, 2325 posts


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