I’m having a break this week, so this blog post is brought to you by the fabulous Sarah Hart Photography.  If you’re taking photos to show how you use your swaddles, this will help loads!

We’ve just had our first taste of a bit of sunshine this year…..Summer is on it’s way! So the chances are you’ll be spending more time outdoors over the next few months…..time to get out your camera and capture all the special moments with your children. Here are a few tips to help you take better photographs of your child and turn a few of these precious moments into lifelong keepsakes.

  • Avoid harsh lighting

Natural lighting is always best for outdoor photos of children, as you’ll find that using flash can make them blink too often and gives much less natural images. However, the sun poses problems too as it can create harsh shadows on faces and squinty eyes! Wherever possible, try to capture some images when your children are in shade.

  • Get low

Being taller than your children means you tend to shoot from a bird’s-eye view, however the best shots of children at taken from their eye-level. Try getting lower to the ground and you’ll get a fresh perspective and much more pleasing image of them.

  • Focus on their eyes

When you look at a portrait of someone, you are drawn to their eyes. Generally, the eyes should be where you focus on for a strong, captivating image.

  • Let them be

When you take photos of your children, you want to capture their spirit and personality in the image. Of course, you may want them to look at you for some photos, but some of the loveliest images I’ve taken of my own children are when they are engaged in an activity and are unaware of my presence. If they do become aware of you taking photos of them ask them to tell you / their sibling / friend a joke. Get them to tickle one another. Have a competition to see who can do the highest jump, or scoot the fastest towards you. Anything where they forget that you are taking their photograph. Don’t worry if they’re not looking at you or if their hair is flying around all over the place – this just adds to the “caught in the moment” feel of the image. Also, don’t worry about how mucky they get. The photographs below were taken on a Family Lifestyle session: the little boy insisted on walking in the muddy puddles. Inevitably, he fell into a puddle within 10 minutes of the session! Fortunately the mum was totally relaxed about the situation – and it was so totally refreshing to have a mummy who didn’t mind that her children were getting dirty – she was happy that we were capturing moments of her children “just as they were” on that particular day and creating memories.

(Look at those muddy knees! But does it ruin the photograph? No! Most definitely not!)

  • Get close

Don’t take all your images from a distance (while hiding behind a tree!) – get up close and focus on their face – giggles, frowns, deep in concentration (with their tongue out!) – capture all their beautiful expressions! I love this image of a little girl playing with a wooden musical instruments in the woods – you can see the enchantment on her face.

  • No forced smiles!

Your child’s smile gives you the warmest of feelings…….it’s natural that you want “that shot” where they’re looking directly at the camera with the most beautiful of natural smiles. But the chances are, you’ll ask your little one to “look at me and smile” and be rewarded with scowls, forced grins or silly faces. Instead, start by chatting with your children and asking them questions about what they’re doing. We often have a natural-looking smile on our face as we talk to someone who’s interested in what we have to say. For a wonderful, heart-melting, natural grin try this little technique: ask your child NOT to smile, then say “uh oh, I think you’re starting to smile. Don’t do it…don’t do it!” Keep going until they are laughing their head off! It works brilliantly with toddlers and older children too!

If all else fails, how about asking the “so, who’s your girlfriend/boyfriend?” question? You might not get the facial response you want, but at least you will have a genuine expression instead of a cheesy smile!

  • Location

Unless you are fortunate enough to have a large and beautifully well kept garden then why not find a beautiful location to have a fun day out at. I would highly recommend looking at National Trust venues in your area as a place to start. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ We are so very lucky to have the stunning Scotney Castle, near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, or Chartwell, in Westerham, Kent or a little further afield Sheffield Park & Gardens in Uckfield, East Sussex. With beautiful grounds full of colour your little ones can run around whilst you create some fabulous portraits with stunning backdrops.

  • Clothing

Dress your child in something that really suits their personality. I generally advise clients to keep clothing fairly plain and free from large bold patterns and/or logos as these can distract from their faces. Pops of colour really help to lift an image.

Accessories are wonderful to add a little something to an image – sun hats & shades for when the sun is shining, or wellies and umbrellas for showery days.

I hope these tips will help you create some wonderful cherished images of your children this summer, but if all else fails, then why not look into booking me to take some portraits of your and your family? Limited Family Lifestyle sessions are available with Sarah Hart Photography during July, August and September. Pop over to my gallery to take a look at some of my recent work or even just take some inspiration for your own photo shoots.  Have Fun!