I recently had a friend approach me about how to take pictures of her kids when on the go. It’s hard enough to get good shots of adults. When you add in kids, every variable imaginable now on the table.
The tips I have her are not complicated. They are not part of a Photo 401 course in technique. Professionals will balk at what I am telling you probably, but if you wanted to know it all you would have gone to school and studied photography instead of something else. These tricks are just simple, logical ways to make your vacation photos just a little bit better.
Keep it simple
- Avoid using the flash whenever possible, especially if you have a point and shoot camera. By the time your camera takes the picture the moment has passed.
- Use natural light whenever you can. Everyone looks better.
- Take a lot of pictures. Kids are constantly in motion. Every shot will not be perfect.
- Don’t forget the background. Part of the reason you are taking these pictures is because of where you are. Don’t forget to show the monument, temple or beach you are visiting behind you. Don’t block it with bodies.
- If it’s dark use grab a tripod if you can. Christmas lights, glowing volcanoes, etc. just come out better when your shaky hand isn’t the one holding the camera.
Where Is the Sun?
- Where your light is coming from isn’t always in your control. Sometimes you only have one chance to get a shot of the Eiffel Tower before you leave town. When you do have control, try this:
- Stick your hand out. See where the light is. Is your hand too dark? Is it too bright? Is it somewhere in the middle casting a lovely glow with easy shadows? There you go, that is the light you want to take pictures of people in.
- Try to avoid shooting between 10am and 2pm when it is sunny out. These are the brightest points in the day. Basically if your skin can burn, it’s not the best moment for a photo.
- Morning and late afternoon light are your best friends. Since you are up with the kids anyway, why not take advantage of them playing in the early morning light?
Getting Kids to Smile Pretty For the Camera
- With one parent holding or standing near their child, give the kid a little tickle right before the button is pressed. Even if your child is not looking at the camera, at least they will look happy.
- Have someone stand directly behind you doing something funny, like juggling or making silly faces over your head or right next to your face. This may seem ackward, but it is better than mom and dad looking at the camera and kid looking off to the side at a dancing monkey at the zoo. But make sure the person doing the entertaining is as close to the camera as possible. Having grandma clapping 5 feet to the left won’t help you out.
Don’t Underestimate Spontaneous Moments
- Posed pictures are great but it’s the in between times that really show the nature of a person
- Photograph your family in action as they interact with their surrounding and each other. Some of your favorite photos might come from it.
More Great Photo Resources:
- Photographing With Available Light by Catherine Karnow/ National Geographic