5 simple techniques for enhancing your images with children

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by Angie

Angie Warren lives in Northern California with her husband, 3 kids, and German Shepherd pup. She has a background in writing, photography, and art; and is currently teaching a photo course at a local High School.

Pictures are souvenirs.

They are gifts to which we hold tight for years. Oftentimes, images of our childhood are the only tangible treasures we have to remind us of that fleeting time. To me, the photographs of my family are priceless and shall remain my most treasured recollections of these times in our lives.

1. Lighting

angie 10I’m a huge fan of natural light. There is nothing more perfect than the gorgeous glow that comes from a bright open window or the way your child’s face radiates with the sun setting behind her.

Good light is one of the greatest ways to enhance your photos. I used to think the brightest, sunniest days were the best for pictures. On the contrary — bright noonday light is nice for visits to the park, but use it with caution with photos. The harsh effects of the sun show up as dark shadows covering the faces of your loved ones.

Sometimes, the placement of the sun is out of your control. In these situations, do your best to put the sun behind your subject. Besides, we could all do with a few less squinty-eyed images every now and again, wouldn’t you agree? Instead, search out open shaded areas, where you still have light, just not direct light.

My absolute favorite time of day to shoot is early morning and late afternoon; the lighting is wonderful as the sun is near your side or behind you, as opposed to right above you. Go against the grain, and head out on a cloudy day or near sunset! You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the difference this creates.

2. Location

angie 09I would venture to say that the majority of your family pictures are taken in or around your home. I love this! After all, your son’s room won’t always be adorned with infant furniture and your daughter most likely will fall out of love with her Hannah Montana posters. Embrace the stages your kids are at and as always, be sure to include these items and details in your photos.

While I love to capture my own boys in their element, it’s also fun to get out. Thinking outside the box with location can produce some fabulous, and genuine portraits. When deciding where to head out, I ask myself — where would they enjoy being?

Although I may want snow pictures, I have to keep in mind that my finicky four-year-old isn’t a fan of the elements of Old Man Winter. Unfortunately, everyone would end up feeling stressed out and our photos would suffer.

Instead, I’ll usually ask him where he’d like to go. I camouflage a fun day at the zoo with a secret mission: mom taking photos. Sometimes we’ll take a surprise trip somewhere I know he’d enjoy. Many of my all time favorite images display exactly that on his face, simply because he was having a great time where we were.

3. Change Your Perspective

angie 06So often the photos of our children and pets are shot from where we stand, which is usually at a much higher level. The pictures all begin to look the same — wide shot with child or pet at the very bottom of the photo.

Instead, get down there with them. Lay on the floor in front of your crawling baby, or sit down for the tea party with your little girl. Step back for the wide shot, but also be sure to get in close. Zoom in on the details — the chubby hands and details of your pups’ face. Seeing the images from their level takes on a completely new view.

4. Capture Your Subject

angie 08As a lifestyle photographer, my aim is to capture life as it happens. I’ll not soon forget the stress of the portrait studios growing up, and this was a big part of my urge to take the picture taking into my own hands.

This photo-journalistic style bleeds into my own family’s image as well. Some of my most cherished pictures of my now four-year-old are the ones that weren’t posed, the candid and treasured ones. I see him as a two-year-old carrying his bucket of matchbox cars everywhere we went while the following year he sported various fake tattoos on a daily basis.

These are pictures that make me giggle and in an instant, I am right back there helping him carry that heavy bucket from place to place. When you allow your children to have fun in the moment, doing something they enjoy, you will then have genuine and natural images to hold dear.

Keep in mind, life happens every day. Rain or shine, tears or smiles. Your aim is to capture your family in real life terms. Not every day is beautifully sunny or full of laughter. That’s the beauty in it! Freeze time as you see it – scraped up knees and broken hearts.

5. Fleeting Moments

angie 04The detailed shots have to be my all time favorite. My baby’s eyelashes, the way my husband’s wedding ring slides down his finger, or the tongue hanging out of our dog’s mouth as he sleeps. Think about the details in your every day life — are you capturing them?

Even in the simplest of moments, pull the camera out — during the early morning feedings, in the middle of homework time, even as they are getting ready to go out with friends. Capture those wrinkly post-bath toes, be sure to take pictures of her reading her favorite book, and by all means, snap that shutter when they are sleeping.

At the end of the day, as long as you drool over your pictures, that is what truly matters. Browse through the folders on your computer, let your fingers trace the image framed on your mantel, or flip dreamily through the photo book you had printed. Allow that big smile to spread across your face!

LOVE what you are capturing, and not only will it show in your photos, but you’ll realize that no matter how many rules you follow or break -– you’re giving future generations a gift that is truly priceless. So get out there and snap that shutter.

Your moments are waiting to be captured.

What is one of your favorite photographs in your family?

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Comments

  1. Loved this, Angie.

    Great tips.
    .-= darcy @ m3b´s last blog ..My blog has ADD. Wait, what was I going to post? =-.

  2. My favorite pictures are when I did a “day in the life” to send to grandparents far away. My youngest was a baby still, and my oldest was a 6 year old, doing homework with her tongue sticking out…They aren’t high quality like the ones here, but great memories.

    Wish you lived in Southern California so I could hire you to photograph my kids :)
    .-= Angela @ Homegrown Mom´s last blog ..Homegrown Mom Book Club and a Giveaway =-.

  3. What a great post I am on the hunt for photography tips since I just got a “real” (not a point and shoot) camera and I am dying to get out and play!!! And lets just say I need all the help I can get!!!
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..Saturday Spot: The “Grand” Entrance… =-.

  4. Lovely post!

    My favourite family picture is one I took last spring of my son outside crawling on the grass. I have it framed in my livingroom.
    .-= Satakieli´s last blog ..Salmon with Warm Lentil Salad =-.

  5. Thanks for these excellent ideas. Putting yourself in a different position is very good advice.
    It’s also good that a lot of camera’s allow you to easily record videos…these will also be lovely to look at in the future. :-)
    .-= The Wonder of Christmas´s last blog ..Christmas Pictures to Color in =-.

  6. These are helpful pointers, Angie–thanks!

    I love a photo of my three holding hands by a fence and looking out over a lake. Brings back great memories.

    Jamie
    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Blogoversary Giveaway Winners =-.

  7. Wow, looks great!! Thanks for wonderful tips. Pictures looks amazing.
    .-= Zengirl´s last blog ..Screw productivity : at least for a day =-.

  8. I wish I knew how to take pictures that look like yours, Angie. Mine are great memories, just like Angela (comment #2) said, but I see how imperfect they are and it’s a shame. Will try your tips, see if they help me get better at this.
    .-= Emma @ Baby-log.com´s last blog ..Potty training, day 2. =-.

  9. Thanks for all of the great pointers. Do you have any suggestions on what kind of starter camera (not point and shoot) I should ask for? That’s on my list! Thanks.
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Where Caramel Meets Pound Cake =-.

  10. Angie, this is why I love your blog and your photos. You have the best tips. I’m on the hunt for a new camera and I can’t wait to try out some of these ideas.
    .-= Rana´s last blog ..Still No Baby… =-.

  11. Those tips come just in time–I have been lately thinking about how lax I’ve gotten in taking photos, and when I do, how mundane they usually turn out. I will definitely keep all this in mind–thanks, Angie!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..“I Need My Space” =-.

  12. Gorgeous pictures!
    thank you for these great tips!
    Now U’m trying to run after my 17 month old doughtier to take those great details, and most of the time a get the back of her head.
    Any tip for moms of toddlers on the move?

  13. One of my New Year Resolutions will be to take more pictures of the kids. Thanks for these great tips! I certainly plan to try them out!
    .-= Amy Reads Good Books´s last blog ..Booking Through Thursday =-.

  14. Those are some fantastic photos! Our family just recently had our first outdoor, casual photo session. We spent time on a nearby bike trail that was covered in freshly fallen leaves. The combination of a great setting and the candidness of just having fun together as a family (while the photographer did her thing) created some AWESOME keepsakes!
    .-= Dustin | Engaged Marriage´s last blog ..10 Awesome Christmas Gifts for Married Couples =-.

  15. Thank you so much, I am just now thinking of taking a photography class, that was a great article!

  16. Thanks everyone, I am glad you are out there capturing your loved ones!

    @Gladys Toddlers are T O U G H :) Coming from the mom of a 17 month old I sometimes cringe thinking of pulling out my camera. Try getting in front of her a ways and having her run towards you (perhaps dad is behind you making her giggle). Sometimes I’ll sit my guy down outside and give him a tiny piece of tape, it’s clear and shouldn’t show up in photos, but sticky enough to keep his attention and I’ll shout his name loud – get him to look up and be ready to snap quickly! Ultimately I’ve realized that the age he is at is full of running around, playing, and being silly – so I try to push away that part of me that nags for the “perfect image” and instead capture him doing his thing. Soon enough he will be four and I’ll be able to bribe him better ;)
    .-= Angie´s last blog ..Gift Wrapping, With a Twist. =-.

  17. Thank you for this! I’ve recently begun a 365 Project of posting a day for an entire year in an effort to become a better photographer. With 3 kids, it’s always a welcome reminder to capture the details because they won’t be this small forever! Your photos are beautiful.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..6/365 =-.

  18. avatar
    erikamommy says:

    what setting do you typically have your camera on. i have an olympus digital. i have trouble when taking pics inside. thanks for your wonderful post!
    erika

  19. thanks for the great tips! my favorite professional photo of my son is one of him with a tear falling down his cheeks. i love that she took one of him crying, because one day (surprisingly) i won’t remember the tears quite as much.
    .-= Lindsey´s last blog ..Vegas anyone? =-.

  20. Thanks for the great tips… I love taking pics of my kids… I just took my kiddos christmas card pics about 30 min before sunset… they turned out great… thanks again!

  21. Awesome tips and a brilliant description of lifestyle photography……is there any other kind? Some of my favorite images too…..thanks! :)

  22. Thanks for the great tips Angie! As a photography-challenged individual the advice is much appreciated! I linked to this post on my blog since I was writing about the challenges of taking pictures at my son’s birthday party this weekend.
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Alternative Gift Cards =-.

  23. Hi! We loved your post over at KiwiLog and decided to feature it as part of our weekly parenting blog round-up. Thanks!
    .-= KiwiLog´s last blog ..Parent Blog Round-Up: December 7th =-.

  24. WOW. Amazing photos! It makes me want to invest in a nice camera! :)

  25. It also helps if you have a good camera! My old non-digital camera turned me into a photographer overnight. Now I have a crappy digital and oh-so-wish I still had my old Canon.
    .-= Melodie´s last blog ..An Argument For Eating Your Placenta =-.

  26. Wonderful photos! I totally agree about the lighting– I have found my best pictures were on cloudy days!
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Why I Almost Lost It Over a Pink Lovey =-.

  27. I’m new to reading your blog. I really enjoyed the tips that you gave. I have a 3 month old daughter that I love taking photos of and you helped out a lot with this post. Thanks!
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Day 4…..365 =-.

  28. Oh, Angie! I love these! I’ve learned through the years to practice a few of these tips, but the last point about “fleeting moments” – I need to take that to heart. I tend to only get the camera out for occasions or when everything seems just right, but some of my favorite captures are of just ordinary days and ordinary things.

    Great stuff here, as always!
    .-= Megan at Simple Kids´s last blog ..Eight Simple Steps to a Meaningful Hanukkah =-.

  29. Such great reminders. Thanks so much for sharing!
    .-= Whitney Trujillo´s last blog ..Download Children’s Books to Your iPhone =-.

  30. Love your advice, Angie, and you are so right about getting down on their level and taking that seemingly “everyday” shot. Those little moments are the days that are best remembered… and the most easily forgotten. If you won’t document these little stories for them, who will?

    My favorite images of Parker are of him playing on the front walk with his cars with the setting sun behind him. My favorite of Lila was when she was a week old, and my niece was lying beside her on the bed holding her hand in hers. I love that backlit shot of Lila’s entire hand wrapped around Grace’s finger.

    Wonderful post, as always!

  31. I love the tip of adding an item to the picture. I missed some of the great toys my kids played with and did not capture them in the pictures. I will remember that from now on.
    Thanks!
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Windows 7 Review =-.

  32. Thank you so much for this! Santa is bringing my first DSLR. I could NOT be more excited and am devouring information about photography! Thanks!
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Taking the plunge =-.

  33. I took this photo of my younger sister as she practiced for an upcoming recital. the lighting was beautiful on the piano and on her face. it was very unplanned and unposed, but it’s one of my favorites! http://images-2.redbubble.net/img/art/size:large/view:main/469482-9-the-recital.jpg

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