When you're taking photos of your children with your DSLR, there are so many factors to remember, especially when you first start. It takes time to put those factors all together.
Getting photos that are sharp and in focus is something that frustrates many newer photographers. "How can I get focused photos?" is one of the questions I get asked often as a southern RI children's photographer. While there are several factors that come together to make a sharp photo, one of the most important ones is choosing your own focus point.
This is an option that many photographers who are just starting out don't even realize is an option, but it can make a huge difference in the sharpness of your photos.
Why choose your own focus point?
To put it simply, if you are not choosing your focus point, then your camera is--and the camera doesn't always get it right. In fact, more often than not, the camera gets the focal point wrong, and focuses on whatever is closest to the camera rather than what you actually want to focus on.
I used my 85mm lens to take both photos above. In the top one, I chose my focus point and put it on the cat's eye. The photo is sharp and in focus where I wanted it to be. In the bottom photo, I let the camera choose where to focus. It focused on the table, in front of the cat. His eyes are not in sharp focus like in the top photo. Having the camera choose the incorrect place to focus can be especially problematic when you are shooting at wide apertures, when your depth of field (DOF) is very small, and missed focus will be very obvious. You have total control when you choose exactly where to put your focus point.
How do I choose my own focus point?
That depends on your camera, and for the most specific answer, consult your manual. Depending on what camera you have, you may only have two options (either all focus points are active, and the camera chooses, or one that you pick is active, and you put it where you want). Or, if you have a camera with a more complex focus system, you may have a number of options available to you besides the two mentioned above. Though my cameras all have multiple focus point options, I almost always shoot with just one point active and toggle (move) that focus point to exactly where I need it.
I am a Canon shooter, and no matter the model, the button on the back of the camera on the top right corner is the one that is used to activate the focal points in your display and begin the process of choosing which one you want. How you scroll through or choose will depend on your model, so if you're not sure, or shoot another Canon brand, check your manual or YouTube, where there are tutorials on everything!
Choosing your own focus point is not available in all modes. In Auto mode, and in semi-auto modes such as "sports", "portrait", or "macro", the camera chooses where to focus. However, you are able to choose your point in manual mode, shutter and aperture priority modes, and program mode.
If you haven't tried choosing your own focus point yet, give it a try! You'll have so much more control over your focusing, and you'll start noticing that your photos are much sharper!