Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top 10 tips to help you take better photos of your kids (from a real expert!)

Today I have a real treat for you - gorgeous photos that make you want to run off and become a professional photographer, and a professional photographers top tips to help you along the way. 

Stephanie Mackrill is a professional photographer based on the Isle of Wight - and as you can see is one of the best in the business. Here's her story followed by some top tips on how to get great photos of your (or any) kids. 

Never work with children and animals say the parents as I roll about in sand and mud determined to photograph their offspring in the best light. The more challenging the job the more rewarding the results are.

As a professional photographer I cover a variety of work - in particular children’s lifestyle portraits.
I love to capture small people in the places they feel most at home and I adore natural lighting, colours, black and white photography and the outdoors.

It’s great to have a beautiful backdrop and it’s brilliant taking photos you can hang on your wall and enjoy as a piece of artwork not just a ‘snap’ of your little one. Working mostly on the Isle of Wight I am spoiled for choice. So long as the weather is respectable I spend more and more of my time on location and less in the studio.

Lots of people say ‘what a lovely job’. And yes, they’re right, it is the best job ever. I’m so lucky to be earning a living from what I like doing most. However at times my job can be totally exhausting and I frequently make a fool of myself, pulling silly faces for babies and trying to keep toddlers still for more than a nano second. It’s all worth it though.

I started my career working as a staff newspaper photographer. It was a brilliant grounding and without this experience I wouldn’t be where I am right now. As well as children’s lifestyle,  I take on lots of commercial photography for company websites and brochures, I also work for PR companies and I do weddings and fashion portfolios whenever I can fit them in.

It’s fabulous to keep a variety of work going, I’m like a child myself and I get bored easily! I believe taking on many different types of photography keeps my work fresh and I don’t repeat the same ideas. I combine what I learn for commercial clients with my private portraiture and vice versa, it works perfectly!

I often get asked what camera to buy and how to get good photos… the camera question can get you a boring technical answer and I do confess I don’t read ‘which camera to buy magazines’ all the time, however what I do say is this: Cameras are a bit like mobile phones – work out what you are need it for then go from there. There are some amazing small good quality cameras around now.

Whatever your camera here’s a few things that may help you to get better shots.

Top 10 tips to get good kids photos:

You can get great results with the most basic of cameras (or even phones) if you stick to some of these simple rules…

  • Sun is good, but if you can, sit your kids in the shade the lighting will be more even, you won’t get sun directly into your lens and they won’t be squinting.
  • Avoid photographing your subject in front of a window. This often fools the camera metering system and you’ll end up with a silhouette of your little one and not much else.
  • Avoid cluttered backgrounds. Fields, beaches and parks are great.
  • Keep clothing simple. For example T-shirts with words on can draw your attention to that instead of a person’s face.
  • Photograph children when they are happy! Simple advice but not always obvious! I always try and take pictures of young kids first thing in the morning. That way they are not tired OR hungry (or both!).
  • Pick a place to photograph them where they are at ease. Little ones are often better outdoors.
  • Get back up. Although I don’t always have an assistant, I often get Mums and Dads to stand behind me and be silly. Kids react better with someone they love. Get crazy granddad round or ask a friend to help make them laugh. All you have to do is concentrate on pressing the shutter.
  • Think about flattering angles. This applies to adults as well! Remember, no one looks good if you are giving them a double chin by taking pictures up their nose!
  • Use bribery. I swore I’d never do this when I had kids but it is indeed the way forward. It’s amazing what a packet of chocolate buttons can achieve.
  • And finally… Stay calm. Easier said than done, but if you get annoyed with your little cherubs not playing ball then they are almost guaranteed to start being tricky! If you are calm then they will be too (well, that’s the theory anyway).

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