When summer comes, everything is about the outdoors. With this come lots of great photo opportunities of your kids or grandkids. If you have a DSLR, summer is a great time to take photos of the kids in the great outdoors.
Sure, you can ask them to sit and pose for a shot or two, but for the most part, kids are always moving. Running, swimming, jumping, skateboarding, swinging, surfing....you name it, they're doing it. This presents its own set of challenges for taking photos. You may be frustrated with photos that are blurry, or not focused on the place you want focus to be. So how can you get good photos? Don't worry, I've got you covered. As a RI children's photographer, I'm always photographing kids in motion and I've got four tips to nail those action shots! Read them below.
1. Use a fast shutter speed.
When photographing kids in motion, you need a fast shutter speed to freeze their motion and eliminate blur. Your shutter speed should be at the very minimum 1/250 with children. However, if they're doing anything like spinning or running, you'll want to go even higher (1/500 is my minimum for running, spinning, or swinging kids). For some sports you may need to be even higher; for example, with surfing, 1/800 is my happy place. If you want to set a shutter speed and not have to worry about changing it, shoot in shutter priority mode to guarantee you'll always have that fast shutter speed.
2. Make sure your camera is on continuous focus mode.
Depending on your camera brand, the name of this feature will be different. On Canon it is AI Servo; on Nikon, it's AF-C. Using this mode will allow the camera to continue to focus on your subject as they move. Use a single focus point, and make sure you keep that focus point on your subject as they're moving. It takes a little bit of practice to get this down, but tracking your moving subject with continuous focus is key to getting sharp photos.
3. Use continuous shutter (burst mode).
When kids are moving, you never know when the perfect moment is going to happen. It may happen so fast that you don't even see it. That's why you shouldn't be afraid to turn on the continuous shutter feature on your camera and shoot bursts of photos while your child splashes into the water, runs across the backyard, or twirls in a meadow. Your camera will continue capturing photos as long as you hold down the shutter button. You're guaranteed to not miss the perfect moment!
4. Use a narrower aperture (larger number).
This is a good tip to follow if you're at the beginning of your journey capturing photos of kids in motion. Everyone loves background blur, but shooting at a wide aperture gives you a very shallow focal plane. If you don't have your technique just right, your subject might move right out of your focal plane, and leave you with soft photos. Using a narrower aperture, at least at first, can help. You'll have a deeper plane of focus, which will give you a little more margin of error if your technique isn't just right. Once you get it down, you can use a wider aperture if that's the look you want.
If you've got any questions about capturing your kids in motion, let me know in the comments!