Dorset family photographer

5 TIPS TO TAKE NATURAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF YOUR CHILDREN | Dorset family photography

Hi!  I hope you had a wonderful Easter.  Ours was low-key and cosy - we've just about come to the end of the chocolate mountain and now for ready for life without chocolate.  For a day or two at least.

Today's post is about something that so many of you ask me about - namely, how to take natural, relaxed photos of our own children. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every photograph we took of our family was a beautiful and authentic image full of genuine emotion? Where everyone was completely natural and relaxed, super happy to be in front of the lens for as long as you needed, simply being themselves.

No pulling faces or awkward posing.   No eye rolling or fake smiles.  

Unfortunately, the default position for 99% of people is the latter - me included.  You’d think by now that I might have actually mastered the art of being photographed but I am laughably bad at it! Regardless, I still make sure that I’m photographed with my family every year,  and they remain some of my most treasured possessions.   

So,  unless I employ some clever ninja like tactics during a photo shoot, I would expect many of my sitters (young and old alike) to fall back to the default setting.

Here are 5 tips that you can use every day when photographing your family.  I'm excited to share some of my tricks and hope they'll give you some inspiration throughout the rest of the holidays - they don't require any special equipment or big fancy camera's, just a love of natural, authentic photography.

1.  Encourage them to engage or interact with each other

This is an easy one but obviously requires two or more children, or a parent and child.  See below for tips when shooting children on their own.  I love photographing siblings together because you can make them do the work, and with a few simple pointers they relax very quickly.  I always start out shooting the larger groups because I don’t want to single anyone out at the beginning of a session - that’s easier once everyone has warmed up and has got into the swing of things.

Idea’s for interaction can be as simple as getting one of them to tickle the other.  It's an oldie, I admit, but it works! Make sure you’ve got them in the right position with good lighting and a nice clean background, preferably sitting down next to each other. I will make it into a game and only tell one of them, and give them a secret signal when I’m absolutely ready, because the moment will only last a couple of seconds. 

Another way to make them engage with each other and forget they're being photographed is to tell one of them to think of a silly word and then whisper it to the person next to them - like Chinese whispers. This works as well for 2 siblings as it does for large groups. Once the word has been passed down through everyone,  I count to 3 and they all shout the word out loud.

Permission to shout the naughty words they're never normally allowed to say - how much fun is that?!

2. Step back and observe the quiet moments


Once children become absorbed in an activity and aren’t looking at the camera it’s incredibly easy to capture natural images of them being themselves.  The quiet images are as important as the laughing ones, and often make for some of my favourite portraits.  The easiest way to capture these quiet moments is to step back and observe.  Often during a shoot I’ll look behind me and see one of the other children absorbed in something and I’ll quickly take some photographs without them knowing.  Or we’ll be on our way to a new location, and moving from one place to another - they have no idea that I’m still quietly shooting.

 Other times I’ll set it up - I’ll tell the children to go and count how many flowers there are underneath the tree, or just to simply wait somewhere whilst I pretend I’ve got to do something important with my equipment. They instantly 'switch off’ and that’s the perfect moment for a shot.

3.  Movement


This one is probably the easiest;  it requires very little effort on your part, you’ve just got to spot the opportunity and make the most of your surroundings. It works brilliantly when the session is getting a bit stuck and the children are getting bored, and immediately injects a boost of energy.

The no-brainer is jumping on the bed or sofa.  Guaranteed fun!!  

For younger children you simply have to throw them in the air for instant radiance - even the very shyest of my sitters will laugh when we do this.  Good work out for the biceps too :)  

And the failsafe ”Run to that tree and back - I’ll time you” works every time. 

Why did I always fall for that when I was little?

4. Ask a question


When shooting children or adults I talk.  A lot.  And one of the quickest ways to get people to relax is to ask them a question. It momentarily makes them think about something else and nearly always makes them relax.  The questions can be about them, or things they like doing, or just silly things.

Do you like ketchup on your cornflakes?

What was the best thing you did yesterday?

What’s your favourite superpower?  

Who is cooler - Hans Solo* or Luke Skywalker?   (*Hans obvs)

Ask a few questions and you should be able to capture some thoughtful, natural expressions.  

5. Play, Play, Play


Probably the most obvious one of all, but often over looked.  It’s what children do best, after all! I like to give children free reign to come up with their own ideas - this gives them a sense of independence and make them feel part of the session.

Find a branch to swing on, do a headstand, turn the music up loud and dance. 

Have a cartwheel competition.  Leapfrog ten times. 

All lie on top of each other and squiiiish. 

The sillier the better.  

I hope this has inspired you to go and take some lovely family photos, and above all, have FUN.  Because if it’s not fun, then it’s not worth doing!

Do you want some fun-filled, sun-drenched, and above all genuine images of your family? If so you can get in touch to find out more about how I work. You can also find lots of info on my FAQ page. 

Now I'd love to hear from you in the comments below what you do to have fun and capture genuine emotion when photographing your family or clients. Have you got any great tips that work every time? And if you think that Luke is cooler than Hans then you can tell me that too - we will still be friends, I promise.

As always, thank you so much for dropping by, and for your support!

Sophie X

P.S As the light starts to get better, look out for a post next month about how I shoot/ create amazing soft light,  plus a bumper piece about iPhone photography.  They say that the best camera is the one that's with you, and I've done the hard work for you.  It'll come out just before the summer holidays and will take your iPhone photography to the next level, including my favourite 5 apps, some great accessories and lots of tips. I'm VERY excited about this one! 

 

WOODLAND ADVENTURE|Dorset family photography

Spring is round the corner.  With more little pops of colour emerging every day it really does feel like winter is finally coming to an end. Everything is slowly waking up,  and I may be imagining it but even the birds are singing louder! 

I'm loving this gorgeous weather and the longer days, and the fact that it's actually light in the morning when the alarm goes off :)  For the last couple of weekends we've been busy exploring secret hideaways and hidden valleys in these beautiful North Dorset downs.  I've got lots of bookings for my outdoor family sessions and can't wait to start shooting in some of these amazing locations with their wild meadows, meandering chalk streams, quiet woodlands and much more.     

Hooray to those of you who live in London and have booked your session down here :)  I can't wait to show you how beautiful Dorset is!  I've compiled a list of gorgeous places to stay in the area, from Georgian country houses to uber comfy pubs with great food,  and will  be writing a post on them soon, but do drop me a line if you'd like to hear my recommendations in the meantime. 

Today's post is from a sweet session I photographed last August in Somerset.  L&L have access to a magical place that can only be reached on foot - we had to hike through the woods until it suddenly opened out into a copse of huge ancient oak trees that sat on the side of a steep hill. The view dropped away dramatically in front of us and we could see for miles over the rolling Somerset landscape.  We picnicked amongst these magnificent trees, and then wandered home in time for tea. My kind of day! 

I've still got sessions available both in London and throughout the South West,  so if you're interested or just want to find out more about how I work you can either visit my INFO page or by all means do get in touch

In my next post I'm going to be discussing some really simple and fun tips on how to capture genuine emotion when photographing your children.  The tips are easy and have even been known to work on grown ups too ;) 

Have a wonderful Easter!  X