Tip 1: Relax and Have Fun!
You have probably been planning and coordinating your outfits and props for weeks now. Now your worried about the weather, will the kids behave, and will my hair look okay, etc. If your stressed your kids will sense it and will probably not behave and feed off your mood. It’s best to think of taking pictures as a game or something fun to do as a family. It’s not torture, I promise! 🙂 Naps are great, even for adults. Lol! Plan pictures around naptime and when you child is usually the happiest. Any session or just taking pictures of your kids should be fun. I encourage tickling, singing, and jumping around to get smiles. Silly faces are always a hit.
Things I say to kids to get good smiles!
1. Give me a silly face
2. Now a sweet face
3. Show me a Super Hero pose
4. Act like your favorite animal
5. Show me a Princess pose or smile
6. Show me your favorite pose
Also, to make it fun, I have a small camera that I let my daughter play with and have her pose me and take my picture.
Tip 2: Shade is your friend
You want to look for what’s called Open Shade and that is an area that has reflective light. It’s the best area to photograph your loved ones because it is pretty, soft, even lighting. The best time to look for open shade is called the “Golden Hour,” and that is considered the time within two after sunrise and within two before sunset.
Another way to tell if you have found open shade is to look for catch lights in the eyes of your subject and make sure their face is directed towards the light source. If you can see reflective light or a sparkle in somone’s eyes, you probably have great light.
Tip 3: Flash isn’t always bad
Natural light is by far my favorite because it is the most flattering in my opinion, but I am by no means a natural light snob. I use flash all the time and there are even some really cool things that you can do with big lights, but that is a whole other blog post. Say you have a room with no windows and fluorescent lighting then you would definitely want to use a flash. If you have a flash than can swivel, it will be much softer to bounce the flash off the ceiling or the wall behind you. Direct flash on a subject can be harsh, blinding, and give you red eyes.
Tip 4: Window light is dreamy
If its a rainy day and the kids are cooped up inside painting, playing, being silly and you want to grab a few shots of them, it is best to shoot from the window with the window light shining on their sweet faces. You can even get great portrait shots by positioning them close to window with great reflective light from outside.
Tip 5: Dawn of the Unposed
Time to say goodbye to the Olan Mills and JC Penney Portrait studios. I like to aim for getting real happy moments instead of the forced grin where you are probably gritting your teeth and praying your children are smiling. Here are a few ways to get your own family together.
1. Get Close
2. Love on each other
3. Have your kids love on each other. Nothing sweeter than a toddler kissing a baby sister or brother.
4. Your going to get the best pictures playing, running around, throwing leaves, walking and holding hands, throwing your little one up in the air, etc.
5. Props are fun! Signs, banners, blankets, hats, wagons, and balloongs. It is best to use props when its towards the end of pictures or your session, because if introduced too early they can be distracting. Sometimes when you can’t get a smile, a balloon can do the trick! I take a helium tank with me to some sessions and balloons always make the grumpy kids smile and have fun.
Tip 6: Point and Shoot vs DSLR
Sometimes all you need is a point and shoot for convenience especially if don’t want to lug around the DSLR. Also, if you know its just going to be bad lighting it’s better to just take your point and shoot. If you know there is great lighting and the opportunity to grab some good shots, bring on the DSLR.