Wish you could hire a professional photographer to capture memories of your kids but this lockdown means you can’t? Want to take photos of your children yourself but have no idea how to pose them or not sure you have the time or the patience? Then read on for my top tips for how to take photos of your babies and children yourself in your own London home or on your daily walk.
Without professional lighting you will have to use natural light. Look for light coming from large windows, but be aware that strong sunlight will cast harsh shadows… in this case you can diffuse light with net curtains. Avoid taking photos in a really dark room with no natural light. If one room gets harsh sunlight in one part of the day wait until the sun has moved around to the other side of the house before taking photos in that room. Often the best light in your house is in the kitchen if you have double doors to the garden and lots of white units which reflect light. Place your child with their face nearest the light.
If you are taking photos of children outdoors a cloudy day is best for soft diffused light. If it’s sunny it’s best to take photos of children in the shade. Try and have the sun to one side of them so they aren’t squinting into the sun, but not behind them or you will get silhouettes.
When to take photos
I always prefer to take photos of babies and children in the morning when they are at their happiest. I find it best straight after a nap and a feed. If taking photos of older children in the afternoon make sure you have given them a snack first.
Where to take photos
Always take photos in a place your baby/ child is going to be relaxed. For posed photos, I throw a large blanket over a bed and headboard for a plain background. If you don’t have a headboard you can use pillows. For non-posed photos, you can use any room in the house subject to the lighting advice above. Pay attention to the things that are going to be in the background. Cluttered backgrounds don’t make for pretty photos so clear away anything that would distract from your child… and try and make sure they don’t have anything growing out of their head!! And of course outdoor photos in the garden or local park are amazing if your baby is already sitting up. Look out for beautiful backgrounds such as flowers or interesting walls.
What photos to take
For posed photos I like to take close-up photos of your baby/ child’s face, sitting, tummy time, lying down, babies grabbing their feet.
For less posed photos, my favourite tips are:
– babies are fun to photograph doing things they love like playing with their favourite toy, reading, climbing the stairs, standing in their cot or playing in the bath with bubbles… this is my favourite as normally bathrooms are nice and bright with white tiles to reflect the light.
– take photos of children cooking, playing, reading. Or let toddlers jump on the bed while you count to 3 and then get them to land on their bottom – natural smiles every time!
– for outdoor photos you can get a mix of posed and natural photos depending on how much your children like to be photographed.
How to get great smiles
Here are my top tips for getting your London babies and children to smile for their photos:
1. For babies, make silly noises, jump around, play peekaboo, rattle their favourite toy, sing them a song.
2. Make taking photos fun. Most toddlers will refuse to sit in one place for long and hate being told to pose, especially when they know it’s something you really want!
3. Never ask your child to say cheese. This results in that weird grimacey smile toddlers are so good at! The best thing to do is make them laugh. This works better if you have someone behind you making silly faces or noises. But make sure that person is right by your shoulder or your child will be looking slightly off-centre.
4. Take photos of your children just playing or being themselves. Great pictures don’t need to be posed or have your child looking directly at the camera.
5. Make outdoor photos fun. Get your kids to run at you. Play hide and seek and grab a photo of them peeking out from behind the tree. Ask them to smell a flower. Take photos on swings or slides (once playgrounds are safe again!).
And if you need to, use bribes. Stickers and chocolate always work well 🙂
I prefer plainer outfits without loud patterns or logos…this makes photos more timeless. For siblings make sure they are co-ordinated. And I think photos look better without tights or socks.
How to best use your camera
If your camera or smartphone has a portrait mode use this, as it will blur the background. Also put your camera into burst/ continuous shooting mode. As toddlers move so quickly you will need to take a few photos to capture one where you get the perfect smile and pose.
I hope my tips for how to take photos of your babies and children yourself in London have helped. If it’s not going well, don’t try and push a child to have photos when they aren’t in the right mood, just try again another day. Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to be silly yourself!
I will be back once it’s safe again to come out and capture professional photos of your children. For information and pricing for your newborn, baby, child, maternity or family photography session in London please visit my session pages. If you would like to get in touch please send me a message on my contact form.