7 Tips for Photographing Children During the Holidays
The holidays are a great time to capture memories, and photographing your children and family is one way to do so. Now, you may think that you need a professional photographer to help you do that, but not everyone has the time or resources to hire one, and get all the children in one place, cheerful, clean and wearing nice clothes, for a family session.
With that in mind, I asked three photographers, who are also moms, for their favorite tips on how to take holiday photos of children, particularly of the tricky toddlers who just don't stay still.
Capture moments as they unfold around you. Maybe the lighting isn't great or their hair is messy – that's okay. Being in the moment and creating those times that embody the wonderment of the holidays from the view of a child, can create special memories.
Capture candid moments. Be ready with your camera all the time. With kids, you never know what happens next. Be ready for it and capture those special moments that they will look back on in years to come. This is a special time of the year and every moment – no matter how small, is special too.
The greatest thing about holiday photography is that your backdrop and props are already set up before you even think about taking pictures. Use them to your advantage. If taking pictures of small kids who are easily distracted, get them to look or play with a Christmas ornament. Let them try a candy cane for the first time – even if it is still in the wrapper. Hand them a wrapped present and allow natural exploration of the bright colours and ribbon. Then, just snap away.
While we all envision the perfect shot in our head, it can be frustrating to get everyone to sit still and look at the camera and smile. Remember that all your shots do not need to be posed. Keep your camera close and take pictures of the action. Focus on your child's eyes as he sees the Christmas tree for the first time. Take a shot of her hands as she touches a sparkly ornament. Move your camera away from the family completely and take photos of the small and interesting details around your decorated house. Sometimes the best shots aren't the most technically perfect ones, but the ones that will make you remember your family at this age.
If you have a camera that lets you change the shutter speed, slow it down and put away your flash to capture those glowy tree lights and candle lights. As it will take your camera longer to take a picture, you'll need to hold it very steady, or prop it on a chair or a shelf where it won't move (assuming you don't have a tripod). But play around with these kind of settings to see what type of look you can get from your camera.
Don't worry if everyone isn't smiling. Maybe not everyone is even looking at the camera! Forget saying “Okay this way, this way!” Or “Now everybody say CHEESE.” Your pictures will reflect more authentic expressions and moments if you as the photographer simply become part of the background. Sometimes it's possible to capture the moment without arranging it first.
One word: de-clutter. Keep your image simple. Focus on your subject and let everything else fade away. Pay particular attention to how your subject is framed. If you're in your home consider taking that painting down before you snap the kids together on the couch. If you're outside use Mother Nature to your advantage. For example use tree branches and found logs to enhance the feel of your picture.
Even if you don't own a DSLR camera or have any prior experience with photography, these tips will definitely help you take better pictures and capture those precious holiday memories. Snap away!