I’m a Mom of two and a professional photographer. Over the years, I have learned how to photograph squirmy babies (spoiler alert: blog post on the tiniest humans coming soon!), move-at-the-speed-of-light toddlers, star-of-the-show preschoolers and no-pictures-please grade-schoolers. Getting the perfect shot is no accident—my best advice will help you capture memories to last a lifetime.
Let them laugh
No more “say cheese!” That will not give you the smile you’re looking for. When you command a kid to smile, it will undermine your ability to get an authentic shot. Don’t make a big deal of the fact that you’re taking pictures. Encourage them to do things that make them happy and feel comfortable—singing, dancing, playing, moving.
If you want a few fabulous shots of your little one, plan on taking at least 50. The biggest mistake is giving up too quickly. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. If the pose you had in mind isn’t working out, change it up.
Most people aim for shots of perfectly-posed, smiling children—those are great—but some of my favorites are the silly, everyday moment type of pictures. I love the ones where their eyes are sparkling and that innocent light-hearted spirit is shining brightly.
Once your child forgets you’re taking pictures, the magic happens. Always have your camera ready—you don’t want to miss that once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Let the sun shine
Turn your flash off (forever). Steer your child towards natural light—a window or go outside. Open the windows so the entire room is illuminated. Looks for the way the light is reflected in your child’s eyes. Natural light gives you a much softer look and the light of the flash will startle and distract your child.
The best time to shoot outdoors is when the sun is low—so generally within an hour or two or sunrise or sunset. When the sun is high, it casts harsh shadows. If you have to shoot mid-day, find some shade.
Get on their level
For great eye contact and a natural sense of engagement, get low.
You are the one with your child every single day. Ultimately, it’s up to you to document the little moments that make up your big lives. Down the road, you’ll be glad you took the time to snap (and print!) sweet photos of your babies—perfectly lit and composed or not.