You’re more or less contractually obligated as a parent to take cute photos of your kids and send them to family members, right? After all, that Facebook wall, Instagram feed, and digital photo frame you sent to your parents aren’t going to fill themselves.
Family photographer Slava Basovich offers these pointers to make your photos memorable:
Use lots of light. Kids move so fast that pretty much the only way to get photos of them where they don’t look like blurs is to make sure there’s plenty of light. Natural light is best, but for evening shoots, just turn on all the inside lights rather than using a flash, which often bleaches out the rest of the photo.
Make sure your child is the brightest thing in the frame. If you’re taking a photo with a window behind your child and light streaming in, that will probably turn into a silhouette image. Unless that’s what you’re going for, physically get up and move yourself so the bright window is not in the frame and your child is the brightest thing you see through your camera.
Shoot at the highest possible quality for your camera. Set your camera to the highest photo quality possible, whether it’s a smartphone or a professional-quality DSLR. That gives you more leeway if you decide to do some editing later.
Think about the framing. As a photographer, framing is probably the single most important consideration I think about. As with lighting, the easiest solution is probably to move yourself to get the framing you want. A lot of people underestimate how easy it is to get a good shot if you physically move.
Declutter the shot. Room full of toys while your kid plays on the floor? That might be fun clutter. Room full of laundry because it’s laundry day? It might be best to either move the laundry or move yourself so that it’s not in the shot.
Don’t battle your kid. This is just a parenting rule that applies in many different arenas. Rather than trying to get your kid to pose and smile (especially since posed kid-smiles are often hilariously fake), capture your kid in his or her natural environment. That means candid photos of play time and snuggle time, not stiff, posed photos.
Sometimes it’s better to miss the shot and learn from the experience. Most kids do things in a certain pattern—they stand up for a minute, sit back, and smile. Or they giggle like crazy every time you drop something (it’s comedy gold for my daughter). If you take the time to observe patterns of behavior, you’ll have an easier time getting the shot you want next time. Plus, you’ll be a better parent just for knowing how your kid operates.