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introduction


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introduction


Hiring a great photographer every now and then is an investment that will only increase in value, however for all the moments in between, it's important to brush up on those photo taking skills!  Everyone has a smartphone with them nowadays and the cameras on them are pretty great - it makes sense to be able to use these to get a bit creative to make photos you'll want to keep forever.  

So many mothers have reels and reels of the same type of photo  - the 'cheese', the 'look at me' or the particularly uncreative documentation of their life. The secret to great photos is not the type of camera you have but about the way you interact with your subject, and how you choose to take the photo (think light, composition etc).  From there, you can make a great image even greater with a few editing tips and tricks (all on your smartphone of course). This guide will briefly touch on these subjects so you can start improving those home photo skills.  

This guide has been lovingly prepared using images of my gorgeous niece that i took around her home and outdoors. :-) 

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Prompts


Prompts


Most parents ask their children to ‘smile’ for the camera.  And the children’s reaction to is to either give you a half-hearted fake smile, or they ignore you. Neither one of these options is a good outcome for a photo.  Instead, give them an ‘action’ to do to bring on natural, beautiful moments.  Action shots look so much more beautiful than posed shots because it’s natural and it’s a movement they would normally do them self, instead of getting them to freeze in a pose (which very rarely happens anyway). 

Get a beautiful tender-looking photograph by asking one child (while sitting close/hugging) to gently smell their siblings cheek and tell you what it smells like!  To make sure you get the shot, tell them to do the action on the count of 3.  This creates anticipation  - making it more exciting for the kids too. Giving these sorts of prompts sound ridiculous, but kids find it fun and love having your undivided attention.

My 10 favourite prompts to give kids before I click: 

  1. Close your eyes and think about...  {the playground, hugs with your grandparents, the yummiest cupcake you can imagine...etc.} You can then get them to open their eyes and tell you one word to describe it.
  2. Ask multiple children "who has.... {the smelliest feet, the funniest laugh, the neatest handwriting?}"
  3. Kiss your brother/sister in three different spots on their head. 
  4. Smell your siblings cheek - what does it smell like?
  5. Sit your children together (near a window or beautiful light) and ask the older one to read the younger one a storybook.
  6. Give me your biggest, fakest laugh (most people laugh at their fake laugh, so wait after the fake laugh for the real one)
  7. Ask them how they think mum and dad first met.
  8. If you have two or more kids.  Challenge them to see if they can all face the camera and stand so close to each other that their cheeks touch. This is great for a really tight shot of them. 
  9. Ask your kids to hug each other and tell them their favourite thing about one another.
  10. Ask them to tell you a moment they felt sad.  Capturing a sad emotional moment is just as beautiful and precious as the happy ones. 
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You can also create photographic moments by giving them something fun and unusual  to do.  For example, ask them to lay on the bed on their back and let their head and hair dangle off the end of the bed, saying something funny (any toilet humour seems to work!) should make them laugh (if they’re not already!).

I used to think that every photo i took needed to have the attention of the subject. “look at the camera!  Smile!”  However, once I started to not demand their attention and instead capture the way they do things (without any prompts), i began to be very satisfied with the result.  Taking photos of the every day things - dancing, eating, brushing their teeth was far more entertaining and interesting to look back on.  It captures them being authentically them and there is nothing better than that!

 

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Observe Light


Observe Light


Observe light

When photographing in your home stay close to windows - either use directional light (light coming in from the side) or photograph them looking towards the window.  Look for interesting light too - perhaps the horizontal blinds are making a cool pattern on your wall - use this light to make an interesting photo!

When photographing outside - look for even light either in a shaded area or anywhere if its cloudy (the clouds diffuse the light!). I tend to avoid the midday harsh sun if there is no shade as it can cast some not-so-flattering shadows beneath your eyes and nose.  If you have no choice but to use this light, turn the child away from the sun to avoid direct light on the face and squinty eyes.

When using your phone, make sure you tap on the part of the image you want exposed correctly.  This will usually be your child's face - it will put it in focus and also make the image brighter or darker so the subject is well lit.  Don't worry if it overexposes the sky behind them - the subject (your child) is the most important thing!

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Composition


Composition


Get creative with composition

Get a bit artsy!  You don’t just have to choose the same crop every time.  Focus on a specific element.  Perhaps your daughter has a cute top-knot  - You could choose to highlight this by only photographing her eyes and hair and use a lot of negative space at the top of the image.

Play with things like symmetry, the rule of thirds and adjust your perspective.  You can take a birds eye photo of them when they’re working on a puzzle, or get down on their level to show more of their face and see the world from their perspective. 

Look at your surroundings and choose what you want to include - sometimes the surroundings adds to the story you want to tell so take a few steps back and include a bit of the environment. 

Some inspiration for creative composition:

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Edit your photos


Edit your photos


Edit your photos

Make the most of your photos by making them pop.  Editing on your smartphone couldn't be easier and it really makes a difference to it's overall look.  Don't go overboard though.  You don't want your editing to distract from what it is you're photographing and you want your images to stand the test of time.  

Check out the below video to watch me edit one of my photos on my smartphone. 

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