I take tons of pictures of my kids, and most of the time it is to document their childhood adventures. I thought I would share 5 tips I have learned along the way to make documentary photography easy and fun for everyone!
1. If I am considering getting out my camera that day, I start by dressing my kids in something that will photograph well. I lean towards solids and simple patterns- and something that will go well with the activity we are doing that day. Also, because our eyes are naturally drawn to words and faces, I try to stay away from clothing with logos, and characters- I want the focus my kids’ faces and not on their shirt! Of course there are no hard rules, and if a shirt has a character or logo and it contributes to the story, that’s ok! Maybe your son really does wear batman every. single. day. And that is a detail you would want to remember!
She was going to get dirty for this one, so I opted for a dark shirt that wouldn’t stain.
2. Next, I ask my kids if it is ok for me follow them around and take some pictures before I even unzip that camera bag! I explain that they don’t have to worry about looking at me or smiling unless they want to. I encourage them to be themselves and pretend I’m not even there! I have found that if they feel like they have a say, my kids are more willing to cooperate. If they say no, see tip #5.
3. Then I find the location with the best lighting and plant my kids there! I may move my todder next to a window, ask my kids to move to a shady part of the yard, or ask them to turn away from the sun for some gorgeous backlight! And you may find all you need to do is to move yourself!
I chose to take pictures in the morning when the sun was shining through the trees in our backyard, so that my daughter’s hair could be lit up by the sun from behind, because it was a simple green background, and because I knew might be get some awesome bokeh (little circles caused by out of focus light) from the sunlight bouncing off the leaves in the background.
4. And then I start clicking the shutter! I focus on capturing real expressions and on making interesting compositions. And most importantly I relax and just try to melt into the poetry of what is in front of me! Trust me, you can always find it!
Composition tip: Try including different things in the foreground (things that are in front of your subject), and try out “framing” your subject with it!
like the garden hose in this one
capture a variety of expressions (not just the smiley ones!)
Try out on different crops
experiment with to freezing and blurring motion by changing the shutter speed (this was a fast shutter speed)
catch them doing silly things (don’t worry, dad was right behind her to make sure she didn’t actually drink her “hot chocolate”)
And focus on little details
like wild hair
and dirty hands
and take a few steps back to capture the whole scene!
5. Some days, the kids are just not feeling up to pictures, and that is ok! On those days, I put my camera away and play with them, or sit back and relish the moment of watching them being kids. The day I took these pictures, my older girls were not feeling like having pictures taken of them- which was fine! They let me take pictures of them lots of other times, and we usually have a blast! No picture more important than my relationship with my kids.