Catching those amazing moments

Have you ever tried to catch those moments with your kids you just wish you had a photographer for and just can’t seem to get them right in your cell phone camera or with your camera in general?

This article is here to help!

  1. Perfect pictures aren’t posed

Ever tried to get a 2 or 3 year old to sit still so you can take a photo?  You do get lucky occasionally but honestly the best photos of your child are the ones that you couldn’t recreate if you tried.  They are the ones you catch when they are getting into the cereal box and dumping it all over the floor.  Don’t cheer them on but sneak around the corner ninja style and catch them in the act!  Some ideas of unposed times to catch a photo of your kids are:

  • being a mess while baking cookies
  • tummy time with mommy or daddy
  • crawling (I know this one is tough)
  • walking (again this one can require a lot of moving)
  • wrapped up snug in a bath towel
  • taking a nap
  • reading a book
  • reading a book with mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, etc.
  • being a swash buckling pirate sailing the seven seas
  • being a princess in a beautiful castle
  • getting down and dirty in a mud puddle
  • picking flowers for you
  • running through the sprinklers
  • the list goes on and on!  Use your imagination!

**Notice I didn’t put in there selfies!  I’ve found the more selfies a child takes the less they want to have their photo taken the regular way.  I also get quite a few duck faces!

newborn girl laying awake in crib at home in Bridgeport WV

  1. If you must use flash, diffuse it!

Have you ever tried taking photos in the dark?  It doesn’t work very well unless you use your flash.  Unfortunately, nothing makes a child run faster than seeing that telltale pre flash on your camera or phone.  The preflash helps the device know how far away your subject is so it knows how much power the flash needs, almost like sonar tells you how far away something is with sound.    Direct flash is not good for a babies eyes, just think of how much it hurts your eyes to have a bright flash pointed right at you.  When I use flash, my flash is bounced either through an umbrella where it is pointed to the back and then filtered even more in the front with a white diffuser, has a thick frosted magsphere, or I bounce it off the ceiling so the light is much softer when it reaches the baby.  
A few things you can do to soften the light is:

  • put a piece of regular white paper over your flash and secure it
  • put a piece of wax paper over your flash and secure it 
  • Use 3 or 4 layers of tape over your flash
  • Use a white note card in the spot under the pop up flash and secure it there to point the light more upward and bounce it off the ceiling.


Photo showing how to bounce light with a pop up flash on a camera

Unfortunately I was out of note cards so a piece of paper will have to do.  With a notecard you would just secure it with tape.

  1. Using Natural Light

Natural light is light that is coming through windows or outside in general.  If used correctly it can help give your photos that great quality you are looking for.  When outside, natural light is best in the shade or late in the evening during what photographers call “Golden Hour.”  This just means the light is softer and less likely to cause dark shadows behind your subject, under their eyes/nose, or cause squinting.  Some ways to use natural light are:

  • stand in the shade away from light patches if possible.
  • use lighter colored surfaces like concrete as reflectors (a reflector bounces the light back at the subject to fill in shadows) 
  • use window light with your child facing the light as much as possible, preferably filtered with a sheer white curtain.  Make sure you don’t block the light from the window.
  • use window light behind your child to create backlighting

dad holding up smiling son in evening light

This is an example of backlighting where I was standing on the opposite side of the light.

  1. Try using different modes on your device, not filters!

Your camera may come with selective focus, macro, long distance zoom, or even be a DSLR with removable lenses and manual mode.  Phones now have more options such as pro mode where you can choose how much light is let in, selective focus, and other variables just like a DSLR camera (iphones even have lenses you can purchase!).  My best advice is just to play around with each mode and figure out how it works and think about how you can use it!  I do not suggest using filters (unless it is black and white) because it destroys the quality of the images you take and can take away from the timeless quality of your photo.  Fads come and go but a photo of your child will be cherished forever, don’t put a filter over it that you may not like in 10 years from now.  

Yes this is my work from when I started out.  Would you want the fireworks over your photos 10 or 20 years from now?  You’d probably rather see your baby’s face free of any filters.

  1. Be present 

I know you want to take photos of your kids all the time but try to have someone take pictures of you with your kids.  The pictures you have taken of yourself with your kid will be worth more than photos of themselves when they are older.  Try also to not take photos of every single moment, be there to live the moments and capture the ones that matter the most.  When you capture these moments, be sure to have them printed because what good are they if your phone becomes infected with a virus and has to be wiped and you don’t have a backup?  What happens if your backup fails?  Prints are the best way to preserve your favorite memories of your child.

outdoor family of three portrait. Parents wearing burgundy shirts and jeans with baby girl wearing pink quilted outfit and pink bow.

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