Ever find yourself wanting to freeze moments with your children? Okay, not freeze TIME per say (the days are long enough!), but freeze specific instances – like a mental snapshot of a certain moment so you can remember it forever. Thankfully, you can. With the help of modern technology, almost everyone has access to a smartphone or basic digital camera. You may not be a professional photographer or have the fanciest camera or editing equipment, but I can give you a few tips to make your photos LOOK professional without much stress, all while adding some memorable moments to your Instagram or preserving keepsakes of cherished memories for years to come. Sound good? Here are some tried-and-true tips to take better photos at home with your kids.
1- Find the best lighting in your home. If you have a backyard, make the most of it! Choose a time where the sun is low in the sky or use shade so there’s no harsh light on your child’s face. If you don’t have a backyard, use the room that has the best window light and place your child near it for the best shot.
2- Declutter your background. The biggest advice I tell my clients in home sessions is to declutter. This doesn’t mean your place has to be spotless, but anything you don’t want in the photos should be put away or placed in another room. Oftentimes, I’ll take a photo and say “UGH! I wish that laundry basket wasn’t in the background!” Of course, style plays into consideration here; if you’re into super realism and documenting everyday life, you may want to keep everything as is. In that case, try putting your child IN the laundry basket! It might be a great photo!
3- Don’t say “SMILE!” I know it’s instinct, but nothing gets the worst fake smile more than saying “SAY CHEESE!” If you want a genuine smile, you have to create a genuine laugh. That means making your kid laugh! Use hand puppets! For younger children, try Peek-A-Boo! I often hide behind furniture or a tree and then pop out and say something silly and then quickly snap the shot of the natural laugh. With older children, try silly faces, singing badly, even fart noises. Think about what makes your child laugh, and right before you take the photo, do that thing! Or have your partner do it right behind you.
4- Set the scene. Sometimes just a little prep can do wonders. Set up some paint in front of a window where you get beautiful light. Make a mud puddle in the backyard, then sit back and get ready to capture some beautiful moments.
5- Don’t expect perfection. Finally, know that things may not go as planned. That’s just LIFE when you’re living with kids. I try to plan an activity or a photo session, and often it does not go as planned, so I just go with the flow. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and capture a unique moment that I didn’t expect, and I’ll end up loving it even more than what I had planned. Sometimes capturing real moments means you have to wait for them to happen instead of creating them. Follow your child’s lead and capture those real moments of them exploring and discovering. You might snap a photo you’ll treasure for years to come.
Meg Rybicki is a New York based photographer and mom specializing in lifestyle portraits of children, babies, and families. To learn how to take better photos of your kids sign up for a group or 1 on 1 MOMTOG class – email Megrybickiphoto@gmail.com. To see more of her work visit megrybickiphotography.com.