Professional photographer Tom Ang, has created list of ten top tips to help parents take shots that will result in beautiful images they’ll want to keep hold of for a lifetime. Tom is a leading authority on digital photography and an award winning author who has written numerous books on photography including the ‘Digital Photographer’s Handbook’ which has sold over half a million copies worldwide.
- Keep the camera to hand, and on
Amazing moments you’ll want to capture can happen with little, or no, notice. Keep you the camera within easy reach. Keep it turned on so you can use it with minimum delay. A camera takes less time to wake from sleep than from being off. And you stay awake too!
- Keep window or sun behind you
Good lighting on your subjects makes for the most attractive photos and best colours. The easiest method is to ensure the light on your subject comes from behind you. This way, your subject won’t be in too much shadow. This lighting makes the best prints and shows faces in the best light.
- Let them get engrossed
If you want natural photos it’s best to distract your subjects with a fun activity. Get them chasing balloons, playing a board game or reading. They’ll soon forget about posing for you, or making faces. Then watch through the camera and wait to catch the right moment. Hold back from giving instructions.
- Move with the action
Children move fast and unpredictably. Even modern auto-focus systems have trouble keeping up. Try keeping a constant distance between you and child. So you simply move with them to keep focus. The easiest way is to hold the camera away from you and watch on the screen on the back. Don’t worry: this will come with practice!
- Catch the frowns as well as smiles
Childhood isn’t just about the happy moments. Frowns and grumps are part of growing up, and you will value them in the future. So keep alert and snapping. The more you photograph, the less children will notice. Especially if you don’t hold the camera to your eye but at chest level or lower.
- Go down to their level
It’s easy to photograph from your normal, grown-up position. That is often too high far from the action. Set your camera zoom to wide-angle, then hold the camera at arm’s length down to the height of the little ones. Snap away freely to catch their view of the world.
- Shape your groups
You might like action shots, but sometimes, nothing beats a group shot. Keep it lively and informal. Avoid the ‘execution line up’! Aim for a triangular shape. Place the tallest in the middle, smaller ones on either side. To keep it lively, keep snapping away while everyone sorts themselves out.
- Use existing light whenever possible
Daylight gives you the best colours and most flattering effects. Best results come from open shade, so try to stay out of the sun. Also, avoid using flash as the sole source of light as results can be harsh. Rely instead on modern cameras as they are pretty good in dark conditions.
- Keep an eye on the background
It’s easy to miss background details when concentrating on your child. What you don’t see at the time – a tree or lamp-post – turns up clearly in the photo, sticking out of a head! Just shift a little to one side and you can ‘move’ the pesky object out of the way.
- Stick to one zoom setting
With fast-moving children around, the less you have to fiddle with, the better. If you keep to one zoom setting, you’ll be able to work twice as fast compared to changing zoom settings constantly. Lean in for a closer view or move back for a wider view.