Photographing Children: Capturing Images of Kids

Take Good Quality Photographs of Your Children

You do not need to invest in an expensive camera or accessories to capture priceless images of your children. Cameras less than $100 can produce prints of excellent quality that you will be proud to share, particularly if you keep the following tips in mind when composing your shots. This article is written with digital cameras in mind, although some purists may still choose to use SLR (single lens reflex) film cameras.

"Photography" is a term that is roughly translated from the Greek phrase "light drawing." Before the advent of automatic digital cameras, photographers had to put a lot of thought into lighting and the adjustment of aperture and shutter speeds. The aperture is the size of the opening in the lens which allows more or less light in to expose the film in a given amount of time (e.g. f/1.4 is a wide amount of light and f/16 is a very small amount of light).

Today's sophisticated cameras, including many point-and-shoot models, allow people to produce sharp, technically correct photographs because the cameras "think" for the photographer. Auto-focus should be a standard feature on new cameras. Composition, on the other hand, requires some thought. The cameras cannot tell you how to position your subjects for the best possible shots.

All images in this Hub are the property of the author, Stephanie Hicks. Please contact me for permission to reprint or republish.

Capture personalities of your child subjects and minimize background
Capture personalities of your child subjects and minimize background | Source

Zoom in Close When Photographing Children

Fill the frame with the face of your child for a striking photograph. Oftentimes, distracting, cluttering background takes away the effect of an otherwise decent photo. You need not set up a studio to have the focus be on your child. Outdoor settings can work well, as can close-up shots taken of infants on beds (mussed-up sheets are OK - try a few photos of baby in his or her diaper alone).

The children in the photo at the above right are seated before a dark fireplace. The background works because there is nothing else to compete with their images. All you see are the kids and their smiles! Taken from farther away, you would see more of the room, and the photo would lose its impact. Or, if the photograph was taken in a different location, say, in a cluttered playroom, a similar poor effect may result.

Get in close to your subjects when taking photographs
Get in close to your subjects when taking photographs | Source

Minimize the Background When Taking Photographs of Kids

Along with the above tip, minimizing "information" in the background allows for more focus to be on the subject of the photograph. However, there are times, when it helps to have background included in the photograph.

For example, a birthday party, sporting event, or nature walk. Framing your subject so that the background is not cluttering, however, may be a trick. As shown below, the subject has just finished an early morning swim. Other swimmers are in the background, on a dock, and far enough away so that the focus is clearly on the photo's subject. The lake, mountains and sky complete the scene.

Once again, you should try to fill most of the frame with your subject, while allowing the background information to fill in around the edges. Take several shots and see what works best.

Here, the background shows the early morning swim event
Here, the background shows the early morning swim event | Source

Experiment with Angles and Viewpoints When Taking Photographs of Children

In taking photographs of children, I have noticed so many adults standing at their full height pointing and clicking at subjects so much smaller than them. Adjusting your viewpoint to your subject's level can provide a better perspective.

Alternatively, looking straight down on a baby from a bird's eye angle will be a unique shot. Experiment with different camera levels and have some fun! Your kids will appreciate the end results, as well.

Another tip: Don't forget that your children are also beautiful from the side and the back! You need not take all photographs of smiling faces. Profiles, even back views (think of your child running along a garden path) are precious and priceless.

Shot from the ground looking up: a unique view
Shot from the ground looking up: a unique view | Source
Get eye level with your infant(s)
Get eye level with your infant(s) | Source
Don't forget beautiful images from the back
Don't forget beautiful images from the back | Source

Use the Rule of Thirds When Taking Photographs of Your Children

If you wish to place your subject off-center, use the "rule of thirds" guideline for placement. This rule has been used by painters for many years, and is thought to be the way to create a balanced picture. In your mind create a "tic tac toe" graph over the frame in which you are thinking of creating your photograph: two vertical lines and two horizontal lines. Your subject should be placed at one of the two intersecting points. Many people believe that this positioning is more aesthetically pleasing than a perfectly centered subject.

If you are going to be taking a close-up, the subject's eye should be at one of the top two intersecting points in the frame.

See the photo below for an example of the Rule of Thirds:

Off center subject - positioning and background important to this shot
Off center subject - positioning and background important to this shot | Source

Stabilize the Camera Before Photographing Children

To sharpen your images, use a tripod. These are not just reserved for large, fancy cameras. Even if your camera has stabilization features, you should try a before and after shot - with and without a tripod. Point and shoot cameras can be outfitted with tripods, as well.

If you wish to save money, however, you can have sharper photos by tucking in your elbows towards your chest before pressing the shutter release. You can also stabilize your body against a wall, or use a countertop to minimize shake. These techniques are especially important when using an SLR camera with a larger lens, and/or when shooting in low light.

This photo can be improved by cropping, or zooming in closer to the subject
This photo can be improved by cropping, or zooming in closer to the subject | Source
Compare to the photo above
Compare to the photo above | Source

Edit Digital Proofs of Your Photographs

What did we do 15-20 years ago when all we could do with a rotten shot was to take the film in, have it developed and then throw away the blurry, off-centered, poorly framed photographs? Today, even if your first try at framing your photographs didn't quite pan out, you can edit digital photographs online, with your own software, or even at drugstore counters! I won't go through the mechanics of downloading your images from your digital cards onto your computer and then uploading them to certain sites, like www.shutterfly.com, but suffice it to say, its very simple.

Once you have your images on your computer and you are ready to edit, you can adjust cropping, take out red eye and change from color to black and white, or sepia tone. More advanced software will allow you to adjust color saturation, brightness, take out shadows, and even whiten teeth!

So, improve upon your composition and you can take care of some of the other details in the editing process. Above all, take lots of pictures and have fun!

Do you like the image in color....
Do you like the image in color.... | Source
... or black and white?
... or black and white? | Source

© 2008 Stephanie Hicks

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Comments 22 comments

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

HaHaHa I love the photos Steph. THe kids are super cute. They bring a smile to my heart. For awhile there, I almost forgot about the tips. Okay, where was I? Yes, when I take shots of the kids esp. in the classroom and they are doing activities that have them moving about...my problem is that it gets blurred. How do I remedy that?


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

Great tips and photos, Steph :) I love taking pictures of my kids but it has taken me a long time to learn to take good ones!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Ripplemaker and Amy Jane! OK - Ripplemaker. A couple of things that you can try on the action shots. Take a look at your camera to see if you can change the "mode" dial to action. You may have your instruction manual to describe where this is and how to do it. This will speed up the shutter action so that you may have less blurriness. Also, take lots of photos. Some may come out sharper than others. You can delete the others (again, if you are using a digital camera). Finally, it may be that your camera has gotten too old or may need a "tune up." I have an Olympus E-500 digital SLR that has worked beautifully for me for about 4 years. Recently, the autofocus is freaking out. The camera can't figure out where to focus. So.... I've got to take it in. Or maybe get a new one. Perhaps I'll use my $3.00 I've earned here so far! LOL...


bobw profile image

bobw 8 years ago from Laurel, DE

Great tips. In this digital age you can not take too many pictures.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Agreed, Bob. Click away!


Princessa profile image

Princessa 8 years ago from France

Exactly what I was needing. Short and concise, and hopefully easily put in practise. Thanks!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

LOL can't buy with my $2 either. Okay, I guess I have to study my camera again. This means we have to get better cameras.. hmmm... Thanks Steph. Anyhow, if I am able to get great pics, will post it then. :-)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Please do post your photos Ripplemaker. I love sharing. :-)

Princessa - I am glad to hear that my tips should be helpful. Let me know!


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

To learn all there is to learn about the digital camera is my goal for this year. I'm used to using my 35mm Minolta. Some of the principal uses are the same but I also (I'm not 100% sure yet) think the digital camera is a bit easier to get good pictures???Thanks for your tips.

regards Zsuzsy


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

A lot of the features are similar between "regular" film 35mm cameras and digital cameras, Zsuzsy. The biggest difference is that you will be able to take as many photos as you like, review them as you go along, and delete the ones that don't work out. You can self-adjust to change your angle, zoom in, or make other changes to improve your shot right away. Best of luck! Steph


Just_Rodney profile image

Just_Rodney 7 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

Steph,

Most of the point and shoot type of digital camera's have pre-programmed shooting set-ups, see the booklet that came with your camera, and practise using them. When in doubt, a tip from the good old B&W era, specially updated for the digital age. Set up a still life, and use each and every one of the the settings, make a note of the frame number and what setting used, then print them all, and see what the various effects are. As for speed shots, have a fountain as backround in the still life.

Hope those are usefull tips for some of you out there.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Just_Rodney, that is a great tip for beginners! Trying out many functions on your camera is a good way to get to know its range and also learn what works best when taking photographs. Thanks! Steph


Dorsi profile image

Dorsi 7 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

Wonderful and informative hub. You have a special gift of photography- awesome pictures! Thanks for the tips- I just got my first real good digital camera, so I'm looking forward to playing with it. Up until now I've used my camera phone, which actually has been quite decent.

Thanks!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Dorsi - thank you! I have terrific subjects. :) Congratulations on getting a new digital camera! You will have loads of fun taking photographs with it, and maybe even discover some new features that your camera phone lacks! Best, Steph


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 7 years ago from Australia

Hi Steph, just catching up with this Hub . Really love the pictures, as a keen photographer myself I often get asked for tips, my most important one is what you do! Don't worry so much about the rest of the body, concentrate on the face, even to the extent of cutting off some of the subjects head! (in the photo I mean) As an old pro once told me (its all in the face).


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Yes! I try not to cut off my subject's head with anything other than a frame. LOL. But seriously, you are correct. I love the photos in which my subject's face fills most or all of the shot. You should write a few photography hubs yourself. I'd love to read them!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

Hi Steph,

Just wanted to say I truly appreciate your artistic ability with the camera. Your explanation and example of how to take a picture using the rule of thirds is very good.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you so much Sweetie Pie! If only I would win the lottery, I would buy tons of camera equipment. I have some good subjects to work with in photographing children. Since I have done a few weddings on the side, I should ask for permission from the brides to use a few shots and follow up with another hub! Steph


SidneyMorgan profile image

SidneyMorgan 6 years ago from Australia

Thanks for the great tips. I love taking pics of my kids. I never knew about the rule of thirds which is great to know. Looking forward to lots more of happy snaps!


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

Such great tips. I have a 1year old child and I love taking her pictures. Your tips will make her photos look better. I can't wait to take new snap shots of her.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Have fun jpcmc - these are special times in your child's life! All the best, Steph


jainismus profile image

jainismus 2 years ago from Pune, India

Great photographs with great tips. Thank you for writing this very useful Hub.

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