Kids grow and change so fast. If you are a parent you will want to make sure that you have lots of nice pictures to document those wonderful but fleeting childhood years. With digital technology it has become very convenient and inexpensive for anybody wanting to take their own pictures. However, the technology is limited by the skills of the amateur. Here are a seasoned professional's 6 tips to help you get great pictures of your kids.

1. Angles

    It is natural to take a picture from a standing position, but it's not always the best angle for the photograph. Consider getting down on the ground and shooting from the same height of your child or even from a lower point of view.  Doing this prevents or minimizes distortion.  When you aim the camera down at your child you will make their head look too large for their bodies. Also, shooting from a low angle allows you to use the ground and sitting objects as foreground. Foreground will give your images depth and dimension.  Also, a lower angle  draws you into your child's world.  It may remind you of how it was to be that young.  Shoot from their perspective and you will notice your pictures having a more intimate feel.

Low AngleCredit: Copyright © 2008, Jack Estephan

2. Depth-of-field

Depth of FieldCredit: Copyright © 2006, Jack Estephan    Depth-of-field basically translates into how much of the picture is in focus.  A camera's lens acts much like the human eye. If adjusted properly, it can produce images with great dimension. These images can have a focus point, a blurred foreground, and a blurred background. To control the depth-of-field you must use the aperture setting on the camera.  When you open up the aperture on the lens you will have less that is in focus. This is similar to how humans see at closer distances. To open up the aperture you need to set it to 
a lower number. I recommend setting it to 4.0 or 5.6 and putting the camera into aperture priority mode. If your camera does not have manual settings than you can get similar results by just having something in the foreground. The something will be out of focus and your image will have greater depth.

3. Clothing

 Kid in nice comfy clothesCredit: Copyright © 2008, Jack Estephan  Don't put your kids in uncomfortable clothes.  How many kids do you know enjoy wearing turtlenecks or itchy wool sweaters?  If your kids are not happy with their clothes, they are not going to look happy in their pictures.

    Find the nicest outfit your child has that he or she is happy wearing and put them in that. Don't get hung-up on having the perfect outfit.  Is it taking pictures of your kids or is it a fashion shoot?

4. Have Fun!

    Having fun and making sure it's a good experience for your child is probably the most important aspect to getting good pictures.  Do something with them that they will enjoy.  If they are young, consider taking them to a park or exploring through the yard. Follow them around and take snap-shots as they play. While doing this, don't call for their attention too often in an attempt to get them to look at the camera.  If you do, you run the risk of turning the play session into a photo session.  Remember you will get better pictures if they are having fun.  

Kid Having FunCredit: Copyright © 2008, Jack Estephan

    With your older kids you may need to be a little more creative.  Think of what your kid's interests are and try incorporating them into their pictures.  Go to the places that they take part in their activities and bring along props. Your older kids will be prone to cooperate if they are doing something they enjoy.

5. Props

 Photo propsCredit: Copyright © 2007, Jack Estephan   Using props such as toys or sports equipment will do several things to improve your pictures.  Toys can keep your child in a good mood if they are allowed to play with them.  Sports equipment or other objects that represent the interests and activities of your child will showcase their personality. 

6. Lighting

    The word photography comes from the ancient greek language and translates to, to write with light. Your camera is likely advanced enough to know what to do in most lighting situations, but with some basic knowledge of lighting you can really do well and get that professional look.  Below are a few rules on lighting to follow that will do your pictures wonders.

Back LightCredit: Copyright© 2008, Jack Estephan

Rule # 1: On a sunny day put your child between you and the sun.  If you have the sun shinning on the front of your child you will likely have ugly shadowing. If you use a flash to fill in those shadows the image will look flat or dimensionless.  When you have the sun lighting from behind it will create a pleasing outline of light around your child.  It will make your child look like a the little glowing angel. Use your flash and it will fill in shadows without overpowering the glowing outline.

Rule #2: If it's an overcast day, jump with joy.  An overcast day means good lighting when shooting in almost any direction.

Rule #3: When shooting indoors have your child near a window.  Use a window that is shaded from the sun and turn off your flash.  Window lighting produces a soft pleasing light.Window LightingCredit: Copyright © 2004, Jack Estephan

    Now that you know how to get better pictures of your kids, go and do it and do it often.  The more pictures you take the better you get.  I hope these 6 tips on how to get great pictures of your kids helps you create wonderful lasting memories.

All images in this article are Copyright©, Jack Estephan.