While most of us have cameras with us all the time in the form of those little (or sometimes big) phones we carry with us all the time, I also meet a lot of parents who have DSLRs. It's fairly affordable to pick up an entry-level DSLR these days, and as a RI Children's photographer, I've spent several sessions swapping tips with parents. I love it!
Most often, a parent has purchased a DSLR to take photos of their children as they grow. I know that my parents had a camera for the same reason when I was small (although it was the film variety rather than digital!) It is immensely rewarding to have photos of your child as they grow, but DSLRs and photography can come with a learning curve that makes getting the photos you envision seem out of reach at first.
Today I have four simple tips to improve the photos you take of your children in your home. It doesn't matter which DSLR you are using. As for lenses, a prime lens with a wide aperture (such as a 50mm 1.8, which is very inexpensive, or a 35mm 1.8) can be very helpful, but you can use these tips even with your kit lenses. Ready for some tips? Take a look below. And if you're a local parent who would like some more tips on how to use your DSLR, get in touch. I love teaching others how to make the most out of their cameras.
1. Find the good light.
Sure, this may sound like a no brainer, but it's true. Gravitate towards where the good light is in your house. This will change based on time of day and also time of year. Window light is what you are going to use most often, but large glass doors and garages with their doors open can also provide sources of beautiful and interesting light. Window light can be hard or soft depending on time of day, the type of lighting outdoors, and even whether or not you have shades over the windows or not. Experiment with yours and see what works best for you. A well-lit photo is much more dynamic than one taken in very dim light or flat overhead light, and having your subjects near a good light source will allow for catchlights in their eyes, which prevents the eyes from looking too dark or lifeless.
2. Vary your angle.
Getting down to a child's level where the greater majority of photos should be, but that doesn't mean all of them have to be that way. Take photos from above. Get way down on the ground. A different point of view will add interest to your photos. Mix it up and find out how you see things.
3. Don't forget the candid moments and details.
Those little unposed moments when your child is engaged in being a child are irreplaceable. They are what makes childhood precious. I love traditional portraits, but I also love those moments when they are just being themselves. It's like a little glimpse into their world. Details are also great to capture. I love photographing what a child is holding in their hands. Little feet. Even their shoes by the door when they're not wearing them...all those small things that make up a child.
4. Don't be afraid of flash.
Photographing indoors with today's DSLRs, even entry level models, is much easier than it was in years past, and it's even easier if you have a prime lens like a 50 1.8 to let in more light. That said, there are times when using a flash for some fill light will improve your photos and add more quality light. I don't recommend the pop-up flash that comes with your camera, as the light from that will be too harsh (though you can diffuse the light with some tissue paper in a pinch). But a speedlight attached to your camera's flash hotshoe and bounced off the ceiling can add pleasing light to a photo and does not have to look overly "flashy".
So there you have it. Four easy tips to help you take better photos of your children in your own home. Get photographing!