August 6, 2012

Picture Perfect: How to Capture Precious Photos of Your Children

Summer is a wonderful time to take photos to be used with your Holiday cards. But capturing the perfect picture of your children can sometimes seem a daunting task. To help you with the process, my good friend Leah, a professional portrait photographer and owner of Photography by Leah, was kind enough to provide our readers with a few fantastic tips that will help you take beautiful photos that you can turn in to gorgeous Holiday Greetings!  

1.  Children can be difficult to capture in photographs-- do you have any tips for how to get a few good, smiling shots?

The most important thing to remember when photographing children is to never force it. If they are unhappy with their surroundings, their clothes, or even each other, it’s best just to try again later. Take a break. Play some games, have a snack, or simply just sit and talk with them until they have calmed down or loosened up. Something that I always recommend to parents is to prep their children. Spend the day getting them excited about taking pictures. Make an event out of it by following it up with going to get ice cream, or taking them somewhere special. And tell them of that plan in advance. Get them looking forward to getting their picture taken, and they will see it as fun and exciting. That will show through in their smiles. And when all else fails, tickle!

2.   Does it help to have matching outfits? 

There really isn’t a wrong way to dress a child. This is all personal preference. Here are some things I give my clients to think about when deciding on apparel. What are the purposes of these images? Will they be hanging on your wall? What do you envision these images to look like? Are you going for family cohesiveness, or would you prefer to let your children's individual personalities show through? And most importantly, what are your children going to be comfortable in? These questions help give direction. The only thing that I DON’T recommend are too many contrasting patterns. The only exception to this rule is if your child wants to dress themselves by putting polka dots with stripes and a tutu. I don’t care what style you prefer, that’s just darn cute!

3. Do you have any recommendations for location? What makes for a good background? 

Parks are always the safe bet. They are also used a lot and can be somewhat stale. The best idea is to just think about where your kids are the happiest. If there’s a particular playground that they love crawling all over, or maybe a lake that they love fishing at with Dad. Is there an amusement park or a beach that you frequent as a family? Even your own backyard or their bedrooms can be host to amazing pictures. The key is to think about what kind of personality you want your pictures to take on. Picking a park somewhere will be nice, but picking a place that’s special to you and your children will add a whole other dynamic to the images.

4. What is the best time of day to take the pictures? Is there a certain kind of lighting that is best? 

I will never shoot in middle of the day. The higher the sun gets in the sky, the harsher the shadows are on their little faces. You will also get a lot of squinting. The best times to take pictures are either first thing in the morning, or late in the evening before the sun sets. Now, it’s a little harder with children, as you have to factor in nap times. Regardless of how beautiful the light is outside, if your child is missing their nap, you can forget about it. But I probably didn’t have to tell you that. Naps take priority over pictures!

5. Any other tips you can give to parents? 

Just have fun with them! A lot of times it can get very frustrating trying to make your child smile. Keep in mind that some of the most beautiful images of children are when they are just being themselves. They don’t always have to be looking at the camera and smiling to look beautiful in a picture. Let them be free to play and be themselves, and you can grab images that you will to cherish for a lifetime.

* All photos provided by the talented Leah at Photography by Leah.
** Find a vast variety of Holiday Photo Cards at Those used for this post include (1) Aqua and Red by Stacy Claire Boyd (2) Triple Frame Polka by Jasmine & Woo (3) Winter Greetings by Marsupial Papers