The days of carefully choosing shots based on your 24 or 36-shot film are long over. Today, new moms and dads happily snap so many photos of their babies, toddlers and growing children that iPhone storages regularly need to be purged. Even with all of this paparazzi-style photography though, it’s incredibly hard getting the perfect Instagram-worthy shot.
As parents, most of us just haven’t figured out how to get our little ones to look at the camera – a skill that lifestyle photographers have mastered.
Local photographer Devin Lester specialises in pregnancy, baby and family portrait shoots, and he shares his top tips on getting the perfect shot of your little ones.
1. Chat to them about something they like
If you’ve ever asked your toddler to look at the camera and smile you know how impossible this seemingly simple request is. But that’s okay. The most perfectly timed moments that make for the best pictures aren’t when your child is stiff and formal – it’s when they’re being themselves. So, start a conversation with them. Ask them about their favourite Paw Patrol character or which member of the Lion Guard they’d be if they could choose. The more relaxed they are and the more they’re enjoying the conversation, the higher your chances of getting the perfect shot.
2. Be in the photo
As parents, we are often so focused on taking photos of our children that we forget to be in them as well, only realising years later that there are almost no photos of us with our little ones when they were small. It’s important to sometimes put your phone or camera in someone else’s hands – preferably a family member whom your kids know and trust – so that your whole little family is included in the photos. A family portrait session with a professional photographer can also be a beautiful bonding experience for both parents and children, who will enjoy having you on the other side of the camera with them for a change.
3. Challenge them to ‘see themselves’
We all know when our toddlers enter their ‘defiant’ stage because suddenly our little cherubs who loved looking into the camera won’t even glance in our direction – especially when there’s a phone in our hands.
What we must never forget is that toddlers (and older kids) are also generally pretty competitive. They love a challenge. If you’re using a camera, challenge them to look into the lens until they see themselves – you’ll get some great eye-contact shots. If you’re using the camera on your phone, flip the screen so that they can see themselves, although you might need to be prepared for a few shenanigans.
4. Have a ‘wiggle’ break
Trying your best to get a photo of your firstborn holding your new-born, and they just won’t sit still? A great way to help toddlers and young children expel their excess energy is to make them dance it out. Make it fun and interactive, shoot a few photos and then move to a new location. Never shoot more than a few minutes without walking to a new setting, taking a wiggle break or letting your kids move around a bit. If you don’t, you’ll probably end up with cranky kids that do not want to be there, instead of kids having fun and loving the entire experience.
5. Read their favourite book
If you’re trying to take photos of your baby but they’d rather sleep or wriggle than pose for the camera, reading them their favourite book could keep them still and relaxed while you snap away. Your partner or a sibling can read to them while you take the photos.
6. Make it fun and interactive
Photos shouldn’t be a chore for your kids. Often, first prize for you and them is capturing some great shots while they’re playing. If you want something more posed and formal though, a good way to capture and keep their attention is to get them involved. Play a game that they can choose (for example, perhaps everyone is riding on the back of a imaginary dragon), or put your phone or camera on a timer and they get to push the button. You can even have a race towards the camera and capture your kids running towards you. There are a lot of ways to make photos fun if everyone gets involved.
Treasure these moments
At the end of the day, the photos we take today document tomorrow’s memories. You’ll never regret having too many photos. But this should also be a fun activity for you and your little ones. By following these tips, you’ll get the shots you love without your kids starting to hate the camera.