How To Take Natural Photographs Of Children

Photographing children

After poring over her Instagram feed, we asked photographer Rebecca Lindon to share her tips on taking natural pictures of children.

Everyone wants to take beautiful photographs of their children playing naturally rather than cracking an awkward smile, but so often we miss the moment, capture fake expressions or end up with shadows across faces. By applying some of Rebecca’s simple techniques, you can start to use light to your advantage and focus on the little details to get that perfect mantlepiece picture.

Hang Back

Taking pictures of children

It’s wonderful to get close-up photographs of the faces of our loved ones but I also think it’s important to see them in a wider setting. I have some beautiful images of the first time I went fishing with my son but this one is my favourite. Seeing him skip down to the river with his fishing net perched over his shoulder brings me so much happiness. If you’re in the woods, just hang back and photograph them as a small dot amongst the giant trees – it gives a perfect sense of space and perspective.

Focus On The Details

Photographing kids

Sometimes the most important thing about an image is the little details. Those endless images of your child fake smiling won’t remind you of anything about the day when you look back. What were they doing that day? What was important to them at that time of their life? Right now my son is obsessed with picking up things from nature when we’re out walking – butterfly wings, pine cones and feathers. This photograph will flood my mind with memories of this time in his life whenever I see it.

Don’t Ask Your Child To Smile

Photographing kids

‘Say Cheeeeeese’ is a phrase we’ve all grown up with and often pass on to our own children when taking photos. We end up with a series of images where our children are pulling the same ‘wedding’ smile in a million different settings. Try just capturing them doing whatever they do naturally – maybe they’re concentrating on something, maybe they’re sad, maybe they’re sleepy – but you might just capture the biggest, most natural smile that will make your heart sing.

SEE ALSO: 5 Tips for Better Family Photographs

Let The Sun Shine

Photographing children in sunlight

I shoot on old-fashioned film, which can handle a lot of light without blowing out the sky like a digital camera often will. I tend to shoot with the sun behind my subject but if you’re not experienced with a camera, then try placing the sun to the side of your subject like in this photograph. That way you can capture some pretty rays to highlight their hair and clothing but they won’t be squinting in to the sun.

Go To The Light

Photographing children

Have you ever looked at how the light falls in your home? Become aware of the areas in your home that are brightest and position your child in that spot. Our bedroom has large windows, white walls and a cream carpet (with pink nail varnish stains courtesy of my children), which perfectly reflect the light, so I often take photographs of them there. Position their face towards the window where as much light as possible will fall on them. Grab a few cars or their favourite toy and then sit back and just quietly photograph them playing.

Find Clean Backgrounds

Photographing children

This is one of the most important tips I can pass on when it comes to photography of all types. If you’d like to photograph your child in a new outfit at home or out at the beach, think about how you are framing them in your camera. Are they standing in front of a pile of toys, do they have a tree poking out of the top of their head, is there a family eating a picnic right behind them? If you’re at home and you want to photograph them dressed as Batman, position them in front of a wall with nothing behind them. If you’re at the beach, move around them with your camera until you find an angle where there is no-one in the background.

This field has a housing estate just to the right of my son, but by moving round a little, it gives the illusion that we’re in the middle of nowhere. Simply stopping to examine your frame can give you a much cleaner image where your child is the absolute focus.

Rebecca Lindon is a UK-based fashion and family photographer. A former music journalist, Rebecca now combines her love for writing and photography as editor of the fine-art family journal Wildling MagazineFollow her on Instagram.