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How to photograph children at home

Children

One effect of lockdown is that we’re getting to spend more time with our children and that gives us a fantastic opportunity to photograph them at home

With school out for a while, now is a great time to photograph children and document family life in our own homes.

And it’s not just about the children themselves. Photographing children in the context of their home surroundings can make those images all the more meaningful.

As a children’s photographer I photograph children using professional camera equipment.

At home though, it’s not always convenient to use one. That is why many of my treasured photographs of my own children were taken by a phone camera.

It’s always better to photograph children and capture their moments of spontaneity with whatever camera you have to hand, rather than not record them at all.

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH CHILDREN AT HOME

Before you get started, there’s one thing you need to do before taking any portrait – eliminate distractions.

Scan the area around your child. Is there anything there which would take attention away from the focus of the picture?

If that isn’t possible try changing your position.

Take a step to one side or get in closer.

Just by making a small change you can often  remove unnecessary objects from your composition.

Child by window light

By a window

 

This could be one of the most poignant photographs you take. The one you’re likely to look back upon when remembering the period when we weren’t freely allowed to leave our homes.

Window light can be beautiful and flattering. Try taking a photograph with your child by a window that doesn’t have direct sunlight coming in. This will eliminate harsh shadows and squinting. If you’re taking a photo on a phone, touch the screen to adjust the exposure. Also, try taking the photograph from their level.

If you are up for a challenge, you could also try to get your photography to include their reflection. This is a favourite trick of photographers because it reinforces the subject of the portrait.

Action Shots

 

Getting children to jump up and down is one of my top tips for getting genuine reactions and beaming smiles. For this one to work you will need a sharp picture. If you have a DSLR you want a high shutter speed to freeze the action.

If you’re using a phone, make sure it’s not in portrait mode. You will also need to stand back to make sure you capture the whole picture and not chop heads off.

This is a great one to try if you have outside space but you can also do this indoors by getting your children to jump on the bed or sofa. Just make sure they are in the centre of it and that there are no objects that they could injure themselves on.

Boys jumping

TELL A STORY

This is great is you’re a lazy photographer. The idea is that you get yourself down low and staying the same position to photograph the action as it takes place in front of you.

The likelihood is that your children will be fast moving so you are going to want a fairly high shutter speed. If you are using your phone, make sure it isn’t in portrait mode.

Find yourself a place to take photographs from and then set your children a challenge or a game which takes place in front of you.

Stay in the same position to take a series of photographs of the story unfolding right in front of you.

Tell a story with a sequence of images

At play

DOCUMENTARY

This could be the most impactful type of photograph you can take in your own home. When you look back at these photographs you will see your children as they were – no staged smiles or set ups.

But is does take patience. Firstly you have to be wait for them to forget that you are there waiting with your camera. And then you have to wait for that moment you want to capture.

The photo at the top of this page is thanks to David Walliams and his list of swear words. They aren’t actually swear words but that didn’t stop these two thinking that they’d just uncovered the most juicy information ever!

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