Tips for Photographing life with your young children
By Louise Jacob Photography.
As a Documentary Photographer working with young children on a regular basis and having a four year old whirlwind of my own, I thought I would share some tips on how to capture kids authentically and creatively in your familiar home environment.
Kids never stop right? And they are so quick! They're into everything and anything and then when they go quiet you can bet your bottom dollar they are up to no good!
I believe it is so important to document this time in their lives because they grow up so fast! Life doesn't wait for one second and before you know it you're packing them off to uni and all you're left with is an empty bedroom and a head full of memories. If you are lucky you'll have a box of photographs too.
The great thing is that you don't need any fancy equipment to document the beauty of childhood. Any old camera will do. Your camera phone is great because it's likely you'll always have it handy meaning you are ready to capture anything they throw at you ;) If you have a DSLR, even better because you can be even more creative with controlling the light.
1. Look for good natural light.
A window is a great natural light source. If you can, turn off the house lights because natural light when mixed with tungsten light (lightbulbs etc) make your picture colours go all kinds of crazy. Have a look round your home and see when there is most natural light inside. Our house is North-facing and all the light is at the front in the lounge. Although we have big patio doors round the back, they rarely see any sun! Blinds make for interesting photographs too. They throw gorgeous shadows onto subjects or you can make some lovely silhouettes.
2. Go outside!
There's plenty of gorgeous light outside so if your house lacks light why not go in the garden or go to the park? The photo below was taken at Blackpool Beach on my iPhone 6 (sadly now in iPhone heaven because I sat my chair on the screen.. sob!) Shooting into the sun gives very different results than having the sun behind you.
2. Get down on their level.
One thing that sets a photograph apart from the rest, is when you get down on eye level with your children. Seeing the world from their point of view really adds depth to a picture and creates a connection with the child. In this picture I really feel like I am there in the tunnel with him (well ok,I was - almost, but do you feel like you're in there too?)
3. Get up high!
Mix up your angles. Don't forget to photograph from up above too. Varying your perspectives will make your pictures much more interesting. In the picture below she had just helped to make her own lunch so here she is tucking into the meal she had made.
4. Get closer.
Getting in really close and focusing on the little things they love doing at the moment really helps to tell a story in the pictures we are taking. In the picture below, Mya was loving playing with the stones in the forest. One day (maybe already) she won't be interested in the stones anymore. It's so important to capture the little things because they can mean so much at the time but can also be over so fast.
5. Go Wide.
In this picture I backed up and positioned myself behind the goalpost in the garden. He won't always be this little and it was lovely to capture such a fun intimate game of football between father and son.
6. Break the Rules.
This picture is totally out of focus but you know what I don't care because the moment outweighs the technicality in this frame. He was running around the garden at a million miles an hour laughing his head off at something (I can't remember what) but he is so happy hugging his giraffe that I've made it a keeper. I can't remember if missing focus was intentional or not (probably not) but I think it works. Don't be afraid to keep pictures that are technically wrong - it's fun to break the rules! Another favourite rule breaker of mine is the use of negative space. If you are familiar with the rule of thirds you will know this should't work. I also love a central composition (below) or a head chop crop (see picture in 4.Get Closer), all not technically great but again - who cares! If you think something makes a good picture - go for it and be proud of it! It's art. It's your voice and your decision!
7. Remember the little details.
The little things that make up our everyday. Don't forget to capture these - they are SO important and Memories fade. This is the cot mobile from a recent newborn session I did. It's stunning but I can imagine it's not something on the top of the list of things to photograph. I love the light from the window and the way her little hand is reaching out to the birds.
8. Photograph the mundane.
A big part of my job is photographing the normal everyday stuff. The things that are taken for granted because they just happen all the time. Photograph them. They are your world and one day they won't be, trust me on this one!
And just sometimes - THIS happens....
9. Photograph the tears.
This picture tugs at my heartstrings. He'd just trapped his finger in the door :( Now I'm not saying to always photograph the tears, but every now and then if it's not too serious take a quick snap - it takes a split second and trust me this picture will be cherished in years to come (it maybe even shown at his 18th birthday) Oh do you see the spots at the bottom of the frame? This family have a dalmatian and she seemed to have a knack of getting in most of their session pictures - I LOVE that! :)
10.Get in the frame.
I really struggle with this one but I guess it's an occupational hazard! I'm making a conscious effort this year to be present in more pictures, because ultimately my pictures are going to end up in the hands of our children and hopefully our grandchildren. I'd hate not to be in very many pictures because I'm always the one behind the camera!
So take your camera out and turn the moments that are about to become memories into fabulous pictures! It's so easy to do, so fulfilling, and one day I guarantee you will thank me for it!!
And when you are done, don't forget to print them or hang them on the wall or put them into a photo book!
I often worry that in the future we will have millions of pictures disorganised in chaos, on obsolete and forgotten about hard drives...
Who is going to go through them and sort them out? Or will they be gone for good?