They say people are now taking over a trillion photos per year—a trillion! Almost everyone we know now has a camera in their pocket and, if they’re taking advantage of apps like Google Photos or Dropbox, they have a place to store the endless supply of crappy snapshots.
I’ve been a photography enthusiast for years and I learned that knowing just a few simple photography best-practices can easily make the average snapshot-taker look like they know what they’re doing.
I put together five quick tips that anyone can implement to start taking pictures of their kids that are a little less crappy.
Tip One: Better Composition—The Rule of Thirds
Composition is simply how you arrange the subjects of your photo in the camera’s frame. The golden rule of composition in photography is the Rule of Thirds. Imagine the picture is divided with grid lines into three columns and three rows. The goal is to position the main subject of your photos, such as your child, at one of the cross sections of the grid lines, marked below with blue dots.
Here’s a photo showing the subject at one of those cross sections:
One other composition tip specific to kids, is try getting down to their level. Crouch down and take pictures from their height for a more pleasing perspective.
Tip Two: Quit Posing Your Kids
Few people have the patience it takes to get their kid to stand still long enough for a good photo, and forget it if you’re taking a picture with a group of kids. Rather than drive yourself crazy, take some candid photos of your kids playing, laughing, or moving around. These usually turn out much better than ones where you just line your kids up next to each other and force them to smile.
The trick is to learn how to use your camera or phone to take action shots that aren’t blurry. On an iPhone, if you hold the shutter button, it will take photos in burst mode—a bunch of pictures taken rapidly—to ensure you capture the right moment.
If you are using a DSLR or point and shoot camera, learn to use the Shutter Speed Priority mode to effectively capture your action shots.
Tip Three: Be Mindful of Your Background
I’ve seen too many otherwise good photos ruined because of the background. You never hear, “Oh that’s a great photo of your kid standing in front of that pile of garbage in your garage!” or, “Hey, I really like the one of your son at the park leaning on the port-o-potty.” Just consider your background before snapping the next photo. Click here for a few funny examples.
Tip Four: Think About Light
Photography in essence is the manipulation and recording of light, so always consider where the light is in your photo. If you stand the kids in front of a bright window you’re going to end up with a bunch of silhouettes unless you have an equally bright light source shining on their faces (this can of course be used artistically if it is your intention to create silhouettes).
Instead consider standing them off to the side, utilizing that light from the window to brighten their faces.
Tip Five: Focus on Their Eyes
Nobody wants a picture of a blurry baby. When you go to take a photo, make sure the focal point is on your child’s face—or more specifically, your child’s eyes—to get the best photos. If you just aim your camera and snap a picture, the camera may think you’re taking a photo of a tree, chair, or anything else behind your kid and it may focus on that. Make sure you tell the camera where to focus before snapping the photo.
Start thinking about these 5 tips every time you snap photos and eventually you’ll start doing them automatically. You’ll be surprised how much your photos will improve.
If we are going to take trillions of photos every year, why not make a few of them more enjoyable to look at. Your Facebook friends will thank you.