5 tips for holiday photos with kids

I’m sure many parents are planning to attend holiday events this year and taking photographs of their children is almost always part of the festivities. Here are 5 tips for getting the best out of those holiday photos and most of them are the same for any other planned special  moments  where children will be involved.

1) Fill their bellies and get ’em their naps! Make sure your children are well fed and well rested before attempting to ask them pose and smile for a photograph. Low blood sugar and drowsiness is a perfect storm for tantrums, crying fits and uncooperative subjects. The same is actually true for adults. 😉

2) No need for the “smile for the camera!” chant. Don’t actually ask your child to smile. It’s not always necessary to pose your subject or even have them look at the camera to get a good photograph. Sometimes capturing your child in the moment, enthralled or excited about their surroundings is enough to make the moment and the memory magical.

3) Don’t use flash . Not only can a flash be distracting but it can also create unnatural images or allow only portions of the scene to be illuminated. If you’re not a professional photographer and can’t figure out how to take a good photo without the flash in a low lit scene, look for an auto setting on your camera that can help such as the the aperture setting which will allow you to set your aperture wide open, letting more light into the camera. If you can adjust ISO on your camera then definitely boost that up as well. Some smart phone cameras allow you to turn the flash off and will automatically compensate for the lower light.


4) Get low. Get down to the same level as your child so you can see what they’re seeing. This tip is true anytime you are photographing children but can especially be helpful at the holidays when the delight in a child’s eyes are what the moment is about.


5) You got to move it! Try different angles/distances. Yes, it can be important to get down on your child’s level but you don’t have to stay there. Sometimes changing your perspective can help give an entirely different feel to an image, whether by conveying a feeling of smallness or magnitude or simply bringing you closer to the action or the moment.


Most importantly and more important than anything is remember to have fun and not become so focused on visually documenting the moment that you forget to live in the moment. Remember to set aside perfection and planning and embrace the spontaneous for the sake of securing memories.


What to Capture: Tips for photographing birthday parties

This is the debut of a new feature on my blog called What to Capture. This feature will offer tips to moms who want to document their child or children’s life through photography.

I am aiming these posts at moms because often it is the mom who enjoys capturing the everyday life of her children but these tips, of course, can be for dads as well.

My main message behind each of these posts can easily be described in four words: 
don’t forget the details, or if you are into non-catchy acronyms: DFTD.

This week’s What to Capture focus is birthday parties.

When photographing your child’s next birthday party don’t forget the details you might want to remember later. Will you want to remember him or her blowing out the candles on the cake? Certainly! Opening gifts? Yes! Playing with his friends? Of course! 
But don’t forget to get in close too. Capture her smile as she sees the cake. Photograph her hands unwrapping a gift so you never forget how little she was. Document him laughing with his friends so he and his friends have memories of their friendships.
Do you want photos of the streamers or balloons or other decorations? Probably not, unless they have some sort of emotional connection to that time in your child’s life – for example he loved batman and the piñata was a huge Batmobile
Of course you don’t want to miss out on experiencing the day yourself so if you want to live more in the moment hire a professional photographer to photograph those moments or ask an extended family member or friend to help you document the day. If you do hire a photographer don’t be afraid to jot down the checklist of images you are interested in and politely ask the photographer to capture those specific moments or items. Many photographers will not mind if you offer them your ideas for what moments are important because they understand these are your memories.
If you are the photographer for the day, making a checklist for yourself is always helpful to ensure you don’t forget any important moments.
And, remember, if you take the photos yourself, don’t forget to put the camera down periodically and remember to live in the moment, soaking in the feelings you have as you watch your child celebrate turning a year older.

Birthday party photo checklist suggestions:

  • The guests arriving;
  • The children playing;
  • Your child blowing out the candle;
  • Wider photo of your child preparing to blow out candles so you can capture faces of the guests;
  • The decorations, if they have an emotional significance for that particular time in your child’s life. 
  • Your child opening a few gifts;
  • Your child’s reaction to gifts;
  • Your child playing games;
  • A group photo of your child and their guests
  • You and your spouse and any siblings with the birthday child.’

Children should be photographed as if they are children not adults

I have been watching a trend in photography in recent years of photographers purposely dressing and posing children as if they are adults. It’s not a trend I am a fan of because I feel like our society is rushing children out of their childhood.

Dressing children in stylish clothes, posing them in a field and telling them to give their best model face or runway walk does not appeal to me and neither do the resulting photos. It’s not, of course, the stylish clothes that bother me. Stylish clothes are always wonderful. It’s the idea of coaching a child to look older than they are.

I also don’t support making high school senior girls look like women on a street corner of a major city in their senior photos, but that’s another post for another time.

I enjoy showcasing childhood as it is.

When I photograph children I want them to look like children.

Children  have plenty of time to look fierce.  For now they should be able to simply embrace the joy of childhood.

Children do not always have a smile on their face so I’m not saying photos of childhood should only feature smiling children. There is a place for “fierce” looking images, but I’m not a fan of coaching a child to look this way.

I find myself drawn to the beauty of childhood in all it’s forms: the smiling and the crying moments. My goal is to capture the now of a childhood not the rush of childhood into adulthood.

I know I run the risk of sounding like an old fart here, but to me we push our children to grow up too fast. 

Let them be little. 

Let them be children.

Let them revel in the innocence that is so short lived.

I love photographing children as they are and who they are without asking them to dress a certain way or pose a certain way or be someone they are not. 

Childhood is such a blink of the eye in his journey we call life.

I want them to savor it, not rush it.

Much like we adults need to savor life more instead of rush it.