Tips For Taking Pictures With Kids

Have you ever had high hopes of getting these great shots with your whole family? Or your little ones hugging each other and smiling right at the camera? My hand is raised super high because that used to be me, all the time. That is until reality smacked me right on the left cheek (I'm talking about my face here) and that quickly became a fantasy. I'm not claiming these are ground breaking tips for taking pictures with kids, but these have been approaches we've taken that have made taking pictures with kids, dare I say, enjoyable. 

I was young and naive at one point and thought that by getting a "real" camera would mean that my pictures would automatically look like the pros. Ha! I got slapped in the right cheek (still talking about my face here) that time. Yes, having a higher quality camera does make a huge difference, at least that's what I think, but it doesn't automatically make your pictures perfect. A lot has to do with the lens, knowing the right camera settings for that moment, not shooting in auto mode, and your lighting is a huge part of how your pictures will turn out (unless you use presets or over filtered, but that's for a different post). And wait, we forgot something—your subjects. Which for me, is incorporating my kids into the frame majority of the time.

I will say, there have been those rare case moments that somehow the good Lord smiles down on me and will give me cooperative little boys that are just having a fantastic day. I love those days and wish they happened more often. But for those times when you might be working on a campaign and have deadlines to meet, need to get those Christmas cards ordered, or in our most recent case, want to get some maternity photos in, then you can't always sit around waiting for that rare moment. If you've been following me for awhile, then you know majority of our bigger life moment shoots never really go as planned. I also mentioned a few posts back that I  would share some recent outtakes we got.

So here are some tips that have helped us when taking pictures with kids...

Let Them Be Themselves:

Remember how I mentioned those picture perfect ideas in your head? Well, let's try to push them out. Don't get me wrong, it's great to have an idea or direction for how you want your pictures to turn out, but allowing your kids personalities to shine through, even if they are in that goofy, or awkward stage, just helps things to move along smoother. It's also great to capture them in all stages as they grow since each are adorable and memorable in their own way.

Have A Playful Approach:

This has come in really handy for us, especially when dealing with really little kids. Like most things, if you make it fun or turn it into a game they usually are on board with it. The same goes for taking pictures. My younger son was all about hugging my husbands leg for some of the family pictures instead of hugging mine. He also wanted to show his baby brother a stick he found, and then A picked some sort of cattail weed that he wanted to put in his mouth like a farmer, so we rolled with it.  Try to remember they are kids and capturing that shot isn't really a priority to them. While it might not have been the ideal look we were going for, we couldn't help but go with the moment and now we look back at these and laugh. And you know what? They're real life moments, that to me make for the best pictures. Which brings me to my next point...

Don't Fight It:

If something isn't going as planned try not to fight it or create a moment that isn't there. Aside from doing a formal shoot, I also relate this to anyone just taking general blog pictures. If my kids don't want to be in a picture, that's fine. Or before we decide to participate in a campaig I ask them first if it's something they want to do, and if they don't, then we decline or try to see if the company will allow a different approach.

Taking it back to more of a photo shoot perspective, when I look back at our previous Christmas pictures we took they are some of my all time favorite memories. Nothing with this shoot could have gone right, but if we would have stopped snapping away and pushed for something that wasn't there, we would have never had these moments. We got so many compliments on our cards that year because we let our guard down and just showed us. Raw, crying moments, siblings acting up and all. we ended up laughing so hard at these that I kind of secretly wished for crying moments again the following year. 

Give Them Something To Do:

If there's something I've learned along this parenting journey, it's that kids actually thrive in structure or when given a task. Now that my first son is getting older he understands the importance of responsibility a little bit more. If you give him a task he feels special and will run with it. This plays into our favor when we tell him to be the super big brother and to get his little brother excited about joining us for pictures etc. Or have little nugget be the super spy to see if he can spot the bird coming out of the camera lens.

Try Not To Bribe: 

This probably isn't a common approach but things have actually gone better for us when we leave the bribes out of it. That wasn't always how I thought, and at first, would shamefully entice my kids with a treat of some sort to jump in a pic with me. When I realized that we take a ton of pictures, giving them something every time wasn't feasible. I decided to pull back, and the best part is, they don't expect something now.

Take a break:

Since we usually just mess around with our own camera, I don't know how easy or hard this would be when working with a professional photographer that you are on a time frame with. But for us, taking a break and letting the kids run off for a few minutes or shake their sillies out can do wonders for when we regroup. My older son tends to be so much more affectionate when he comes back. Both of them are usually more inclined to listen and we can wrap things up.

When In Doubt, Dad Toss: 

There's nothing my kids love more than being tossed around by my husband. I have some great pictures of Eric throwing them up high in the sky and capturing the biggest smiles on their faces. He's always been that way with my boys so they are used to it and love every minute of it. They also make for some great action shots and capturing real emotions.

Let Go Of Perfection:

This will always be a favorite tip of mine because I think if you take anything away from these suggestions, I hope that it's this. Sometimes we can put so much unnecessary pressure on ourselves, and for what, a picture? Of course they are great memories and moments to have but at what cost. I've learned the hard way by letting my lack of skills get the best of me, not having optimal lighting, or kids that weren't behaving. I've even stooped as low as throwing a temper tantrum like I was a toddler again. That does no one any good and only sets a bad example for my kids and left me feeling like a real, well, you know what. I can't speak for everyone because I know some have a brand they are trying to build for themselves or high expectations of what they share. And that's totally fine. But for me, when I let my guard down, share a blurry picture, or one that maybe doesn't have the right white balance, I'm ok with it. Life isn't perfect. If I want my kids to realize anything it's also that perfection isn't always achievable and that perfection can be in the eye of the beholder (I know it's actually beauty but I feel like it can translate over).  If we can be happy with the moments we do capture then those are the ones that become lasting and cherished.

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