Who doesn’t want to take better photos of their kids? Before I began my journey toward becoming a professional photographer, I longed to take better photos of my daughter, but just wasn’t sure how. Now that I do, I’m going to share some photographer’s secrets with you today.

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1. Follow the Rule of Thirds

Most people who take photos automatically place the subject of their photograph in the middle of the frame. Few know that the Rule of Thirds allows you to take well-balanced and more aesthetically pleasing photos. The Rule of Thirds involves imagining your viewfinder is split into nine equal rectangles by four lines as seen below. If you are following the Rule of Thirds, you would place the main subject of the photo in a place where two of those lines intersect. When you do this, the theory is that it allows your brain to interact with the photo more naturally. You may have already noticed that when you looked at the photo (to the left) earlier, you were naturally drawn to the artist at her easel.

2. Turn your flash OFF

Photos that utilize flash, especially the flash provided on a phone or camera, are not pretty. They often create an unnatural yellow or orange hue that is not pleasing. When possible, try to find natural light to utilize instead. If you’re inside, shooting by windows when possible provides beautiful light on your child. The best light to use is a soft natural light. If you’re outdoors and the sun is high in the sky, it is not the best time to take photos. Try to take them in a nice natural light that doesn’t cast shadows. Sometimes I even try to entice my daughter to play in front of a window or in the shade so that my photos will turn out nicer.

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3. Find a Different Perspective

Most people take photos in a standing position. It’s amazing how a change of perspective can make a photo much more interesting. Try squatting, lying on the floor, or even taking a photo of your child from above. Changing perspective often provides a unique viewpoint about size or proportion of the subjects in the photo. When we are standing while taking photos of children, it makes them look small. In both of the photos below, I was sitting on the floor/ground with my camera.

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lifestyle photographer | professional photographer | penn yan

4. Utilize a Simple Photo Technique

Leading lines and framing are two simple photo techniques that anyone can learn that make photos much more stimulating for the viewer. Leading lines involves utilizing a natural element to draw the viewer toward the subject or to lead the viewer through a path in the photo, such as the shelving in the photo below. See how the lines of the shelves draw you in? Framing involves utilizing an object, such as the playground bars utilized in the photo below to draw the viewer’s focus toward the subject.

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oak hill bulk foods | penn yan, ny | professional photographer
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5. Capture Your Child's Personality

Posed photos are nice and have their place, but photos of your kids as they truly are will be the ones you will look back and reminisce about. On the day I took this photo below, my daughter was “helping” me garden, which mostly consisted of her using my trowel to take dirt out of my garden. When I had enough and needed a break myself, I had asked her to take a break and she sat on the back step of our garage. I was so overjoyed to get this little “up to no good” smirk and gleam in her eye. Now, imagine that I had her stand for a posed photo in front of the garden and asked her to say cheese…would I have remembered the actual events of the day as vividly? I bet not.

6. Catch Them Not Looking

This idea really goes hand in hand with capturing their personality, which is why these tips follow one another. I don’t know about you, but my daughter sometimes (okay, a lot of times) gets tired of me taking photos of her. Because of this, I often attempt to catch her when she’s not looking, and they are often some of my favorite photos—when she’s just playing in her own little world and in her own little space. It's real, and as I said above, it helps trigger a specific memory for me. If it’s not possible to catch her unaware, I play with her while I take her photo or ask her to do something fun, and she is much more willing to participate in the process.

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Written by Erin Cunningham. Photographer. Wife.

Mom. Friend. Lover of Keuka Lake and All Things Real.