7 Tips For Photographing Your Own Children
Reflecting on this past year has made me realize that, in some ways, the pace of time has totally changed for me. For me, little details of my life have come into focus in ways that I never noticed before. The changing of seasons happens more slowly – with subtle changes in the leaves on the trees and in the feel of the air.
Of course, it still feels like my own kiddos are growing way too fast…but I was also forced to slow down and notice the micro moments. A year ago, I started a special personal project of taking photographs every day to document our lives at home together, and it has inspired me to share a few tips on photographing your own children, which I hope will help you feel more confident in leaving them a visual legacy.
While I spend my days photographing other Austin families, it does take effort for me to remember to use my camera at home too. This is particularly challenging for me for several reasons. First, it’s my job! It’s hard to want to pick up my camera when I do it all of the time (regardless of how much I love it.) Second, my oldest really struggles with getting his photos taken, and I refuse to force anything. Therefore, my time has to be quick, somewhat planned and I need to have low expectations. If I get one good photo out of our time, I’m happy!
Don’t get me wrong, family photo sessions are amazing. They capture emotions, expressions, and moments we would otherwise never see (and they look great on the wall!!). I always make it my goal as your photographer to bring out the most beautiful and unique aspects of your family. But let’s be real – there are so many more moments in the year that deserve to be documented as well.
I learned so much from photographing my own children more intentionally this year. As someone who is passionate about honoring time with my photographs, I want to empower my clients to capture their own memories too. Here are a few of my best tips and tricks that I use with my own family (who are lovingly pictured below!)
Be Realistic and Don’t Stress
Not every shot is going to be perfect, and your child isn’t going to be either. Kids totally sense our stress, and the moment it isn’t fun for the anymore, is the moment they are going to start acting out. Be patient, and get them used to the camera. That way, you’ll be able to start getting some really great candid shots!
2. Get them in their element, and make it fun!
I love photographing my kids doing their favorite things, and with their favorite things! I always want to remember what they were into at a specific age. My oldest loves being outside, so that’s where I typically try to sneak a few photos of him in. He also does best this way as well, because he has something to focus on other than the fact that I am taking his photo!
If I want to get him smiling at me, I usually come up with a game that gets him to interact. For example, asking them if they see xyz in your camera is always a great start. I joke about there being a chicken in my camera or ask if something like a lizard could fit in there. It always gets a laugh and it causes them to look right at me!
3. Get on their level.
This makes it more fun for the kids, but also creates a better perspective. Also, aim to shoot different angles for a new perspective. Don’t forget the details, the wide shots, and everything in between.
4. Your “everyday” is SO beautiful!
I hear from a lot of clients that they are “boring”. Honestly, that is NEVER true if you appreciate the beauty in the every day. I love finding that for my clients, and I love finding those moments in my own life. It’s hard to see them right away, but with a little practice and patience you’ll be able to start recognizing them.
During the first month of lockdown last year, I kept my camera available at all times since I wasn’t using it for client work. I thought about our upcoming day and picked a part that I would try and create one photo out of. That way, I had a plan, and an expectation.
5. Get creative with light + perspective
If you start to get bored or become uninspired (or your kids just aren’t cooperating) keep shooting and just change up your idea a little! I lost motivation after a few weeks and forced myself to start looking for unique light and lines to mix it up a little.
6. The best camera you have is the one on you.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy camera – the best one you have is the one on you! Cell phones these days have amazing capabilities. Portrait mode is great for getting that coveted “blurred background” look, and the in-app filters are great as well. You can find a great list of some starter cameras here. I personally own two Sony A7iii’s but I used Nikon for years and years and started out on Canon. Each has their own perks. Precision Camera in Austin, TX is a great place to play around and get your hands on something to see how it feels.
7. Lastly, don’t forget to get in the frame!
Hand your camera off, set a self timer, take a selfie…I don’t care how you do it, just make sure to exist in photos every once in a while too.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how “perfect” your photos are, or if your children are smiling in them. It matters that you took them, and that they exist! Plus, practice makes perfect and the more you get your kids (and yourself!) used to the camera the smoother things will go.
Your children will love seeing their messy hair, chubby fingers, and dirty faces years from now, and so will you. Let go of the perfect and embrace the now!
I hope you enjoyed my tips for photographing your own children!
If the thought still overwhelms you, feel free to reach out and I’ll take over that stress for you. 🙂
Alissa is a maternity, newborn and family photographer + documentary filmmaker in Austin, Texas. She serves the Austin and surrounding areas.