Having professional family photos taken from time to time is a must for most families. But what about documenting your family time and memories you make in between your professional photo sessions?
You don’t have to rely on simple snapshots of your kids; instead, you can learn how to take more professional-looking photos of your kids in just a few simple steps.
Use Aperture Priority Mode
Without getting too technical, aperture priority mode (either A or Av on your camera’s dial) allows you to blur the background of your photos by changing just one camera setting – the aperture.
And as you change the aperture setting, the camera will automatically change the other two settings that influence exposure – the shutter speed and the ISO. That means you can get a blurry background without having to worry about changing all three exposure settings.
First, set the aperture to a small f-number. For example, if the smallest f-number available is f/2.8, try using f/4 or f/5.6. Then move in close to your kids, perhaps three feet away or so. Next, depress the shutter button halfway to focus the shot, and then press the shutter button down all the way.
There are some limitations to how blurry the background can be, but the resulting photo should be well-exposed, sharp, and have a degree of blurriness in the background.
Great photos begin with great light, and one of the best places to find excellent lighting is outside right before sunset.
At that point in the day, the sun is low on the horizon, and its rays are very soft and warm, thus, this time period is called “Golden Hour.”
Golden Hour is the ideal time for photos because it gives skin tones a nice, warm glow. What’s more, because the light is so soft, you don’t have to worry about harsh shadowing or your kids squinting.
Just find a spot with a nice background where your kids can face the setting sun, make sure your shadow doesn’t appear in the photo, and snap away.
One way that amateur photos differ from professional photos is that professional photographers aren’t afraid to get up close to their subject.
By getting close to your kids and filling the frame with their face, you not only get a more intimate portrait of them that shows off their eyes, but it also means that you don’t have to worry about ugly or distracting backgrounds.
That, in turn, means that you can take a high-quality photo of your kids just about anywhere with good light – even in a parking lot or in front of the grocery store.
When taking a close-up photo, getting the focus right is paramount.
One way to do this is to place the center focus point (which appears in your camera’s viewfinder) over your child’s eye and depress the shutter button halfway. Then, while holding the shutter button down halfway, recompose the shot as you please, and then press the shutter all the way to take the shot.
This is called the “focus and recompose” technique, and it will help you ensure that the most important feature of the photo – your child’s eyes – are nice and sharp.
Find Your Lens’s Sweet Spot
Another primary difference between amateur and professional photos is that professionals understand how to get tack-sharp photos of their subjects.
As noted above, using the focus and recompose technique will help you create sharper photos of your kids.
But another important factor is how to maximize the sharpness of your lens.
All lenses – whether they’re low-end models, high-end models, or somewhere in between, have what’s called a “sweet spot,” or an aperture at which they are the sharpest. Usually, the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle of its aperture range.
For example, if you have a 50mm f/2 lens, shooting at f/2 will not get you the sharpest results. Instead, if you switch your camera to aperture priority mode as suggested earlier, and change the aperture by several values to f/4, f/5.6, or f/8, you’ll get a much sharper photo.
Learn How to Post-Process
As a final tip for more professional-looking photos of your kids, learn how to process the images you take. Whether you buy a program like Photoshop or Lightroom, or opt for a free editor like Pixlr or GIMP, having the ability to fine-tune things like brightness, contrast, saturation, and vibrancy will help you maximize the quality of your photos.
Better yet, by learning how to take more professional-looking photos of your kids, you can save yourself a little money at the same time!
Whether you want to take better portraits of your kids, learn how to master landscape photography, explore macro or street photography, or something in between, PhotographyTalk has the educational tools that will empower you to fulfill your potential. PhotographyTalk has been featured in many nationwide publications over the years, including Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine, and Forbes.