A family meeting is happy to welcome a guest post for getting great momtographer pics of kids! Jessie Arras is the owner and photographer at The Tennessee Sweetpea Photography in Middle Tennessee. Welcome and thank you Jessie!
Every mom wants beautiful, Instagram-worthy pictures of her kiddos. Adoring family and friends want to see them. The bare walls of our home long to display them. Today you’ll learn how to turn your kids amateur “momtographer” photo-shoot into a precious time. One that produces so many great pics of kids, you’ll have a hard time deciding what to frame first!
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Path to professional.
In this day and age its almost a crime if you don’t have 8 bajillion pictures of your kids on your phone, right? But how many of those pictures are frame or post-worthy? We can’t all afford to pay a professional photographer to take pictures of little Jimmy’s every milestone. This is where I was 4 years ago. I had two children at the time and wanted to plaster beautiful pictures of them all over the walls. We were a one-income family, and I simply could not afford to pay a professional photographer. Every time I tried to take my own pictures of them, they fell flat.
Five years worth of research and practice later and I am a professional photographer. Taking beautiful pictures of my own kids. As well as everyone else’s!
I am Jessie and I own The Tennessee Sweetpea. A blooming little photography business that blesses the socks off of my family AND my clients! While sometimes a professional is simply necessary, we can all learn to take better pictures. With a few tips, tricks and pointers, you’ll soon be taking kid-tastic pictures. Perfect for a gallery wall, slideshow or profile pic that’s sure to garner lots of “likes!”
1) The Golden Hours.
First of all, photography is ALL about light. Pay attention to the light when you’re thinking of taking pictures. Ask yourself a few questions. Where is it coming from? Is it harsh? Is it dim? For most pictures, you’ll want your subject to be facing the light, but not in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can be too harsh and cast dark shadows on their face. Instead, look for a way to get a lot of defused light. Like sitting by a window, or under a tree.
The best time of day for taking pictures is the Golden Hour. It happens twice a day. The Golden hour is the hour after sunrise, and before sunset. During these times, the sun’s rays are naturally filtered by the atmosphere as the sun is low on the horizon. You can get some beautiful golden colors at this time of day. You can place your subject pretty much anywhere you please during this time. The light is so soft and even during these hours. Taking a lot of the guess-work out of lighting.
2) Fill the Frame.
Get up close and personal. Their little faces are what you’ll want to remember most of all. So be sure to get in there for a close up. Capture those eyelashes and freckles. Focus on their sweet smile.
Do you have pictures of their chubby little toes and fingers? Their fingers will lose the chubbiness and become long and slender one day. Their freckles may fade, and their hair may change color. Capture every tiny detail. Be sure to get in close and fill your frame with whatever you’re focused on at that moment.
If it’s toes, don’t include their whole body. If its eyelashes, then you should only see their face and lashes. Make sure that particular body part is closest to your lens, so that your focus is on that. You get the idea. In the picture below, my son picked a flower for me. I really wanted to remember his little hand giving it to me. So I focused on his hand with the flower in it. Yes. his face is blurry. You can however, still see it, and I can forever remember that sweet little six-year-old-hand presenting his mama a flower.
3) Angles and composure.
Also important is to move around! Don’t just stand there and take every picture from a standing position. Get low for a dramatic angle. In addition to moving up and down, you can also actually change the angle of the camera in your hand. This tiny tweak can make a huge difference. Tilt the top of your camera toward your subject and the bottom away ever so slightly. You’ll have a completely different look. Or vice versa. Simply remember that your camera doesn’t have to be squared up perfectly with your subject. Move around and find a different vantage point.
Look for a solid background. The simpler the background the better. You don’t want a “busy” or cluttered background distracting from your kiddo’s TOTALLY adorable face! A brick wall. A bunch of trees. A fence. All work nicely.
5) Think Candid.
To be honest, I pose children as little as possible in most of my sessions. We’ll talk about posing next. Many of the best pictures are captured with a little guided instruction instead of stiff posing. Use instructions like this and be ready with your camera: “Hey, look at that butterfly! – Look how cute your baby brother is! Why don’t you give him a kiss? – Hold hands and run this way! – Can you lay here on the ground and look at the flowers?” A few more of my personal favorite options are; asking them to race, or get in a line and jump on the count of three. Those are always fun pictures!
Alright, I told you I’d talk about posing, so I will. Posing kids is tricky. They’re wiggly and busy exploring their surroundings. They don’t want to sit still for a picture, but we have to try, right?
For posed pictures, the closer to each other the better. The best pictures usually have very little if any space between each subject. Show some kind of connection. Shoulders touching, holding hands, arms around shoulders. Anything to fill those gaps and make a connection between each other. I always say, “Act like you love each other!”
Once you get those basics down the sky is the limit! You can have them stand with their hands in their pockets. Sit down on a rock or the ground. Have them kneel and stand over them, shooting down while they gaze up at you. This is usually a favorite.
Keep it simple.
Get right at eye level with them and do a simple head-shot. These are the ones that get framed the most. Ask the girls to place a hand on their cheek or twirl for you. Ask the boys to cross their arms and give you a “tough guy” smile.
7) Embrace Imperfections.
This is not something you will hear many professional photographers say. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe its just my own personal taste, but I enjoy capturing my kids’ bumps, bruises, and scrapes. Those things show that they’ve been playing hard and living life. They’ve been being the amazing kids they are and they’ve been learning valuable life lessons.
So I do not edit out their boo-boos. I embrace them. I don’t cancel our shoot if someone skins their knee, I take a picture.
A skinned-knee and a horse.
One particular day, my daughter had fallen right before it was time to get her picture taken. For a week prior I had been planning to put her in a beautiful dress and her cowgirl boots and take her picture with my mom’s horses. After her fall, I picked her up and held her and cleaned it up so it would stop bleeding.
Then, rather than allowing frustration to set in, we went on about the business of taking pictures with the ponies! I purposefully took pictures on the side where her knee would show. It went so well! A picture that shows my beautiful princess- in a pretty dress and boots- with a busted up knee riding a horse… is just. so. Ally-belle! She’s pretty, and girly. She is also spunky, and daring, and sometimes a risk taker.
I love these pictures, and I love that big ole red scrape on her knee. My goal is not to create a “photoshop-perfect” version of their childhood. I want to document the real thing in a beautiful way, they will be able to look back on years from now and remember accurately what their life was like.
8) Incorporate fun with props.
Does the light pour through your front door just beautifully in the afternoons? Put some dinosaurs or flowers in that area, grab your camera, and click away as they play. You never know what beautiful moment you might capture. Maybe there’s a pretty place in the park or in your back yard. Again, take some cute toys or props and encourage your kids to interact with them. You could use a kite, bike, ribbon twirler, or bubbles! One of my favorites is a bubble machine. You can never go wrong with toddlers and bubbles!
9) Pinterest is your friend.
I love Pinterest! Who doesn’t? Its good for so much more than recipes and home decor. There are tons of pins about helping pose kids. Check out my Pinterest page for some ideas to get you started!
10) Practice really does make perfect.
The best way to take better pictures is to take a lot of pictures! Like a lot-a lot! Snap away all the time. Experiment and take notes on what worked and what didn’t. Look at pictures other people have taken and recreate it.
Before you know it, you’ll look back at your pictures from a year or two ago and realize how far you’ve come!
Seriously! Start practicing today! Take these steps with you. Put your kids in some cute outfits. Take along some props. Head to the park or the back yard. Just don’t forget your camera.
And don’t worry if someone scrapes their knee or gets a paper cut. Snap away anyway.
Share with The Tennessee Sweetpea.
Finally, I’d love for you to share those frame-worthy shots with me and all your adoring friends and family on Instagram with #encouragemesweetpea! Maybe I’ll feature some on my page so that even more people can see your hard work and gush over your sweet kids! I can’t wait to see some beautiful pictures from my fellow “momtographers” out there. Happy snapping!
Jessie can be reached at The Tennessee Sweetpea!