Capture the Beast!

Snapshots of children are the touchstone of lifelong memories. Making them good photos, and not just blackmail fodder for the teenage years, is easier than you may think. It does not take over-advanced photography skills or ridiculously expensive equipment to capture your little beast for posterity.

1. Go natural. 

Big V & Caden

The Big V and #1 grandson

Turn off the flash and use ambient or sunlight to take better quality pictures of your children. Take morning photos in the sunniest room in the house. Stroll out to the yard or playground in the morning or early evening when the sun is providing very even, soft light.

Bright sunlight and on board flashes produce red eye and wash out skin tones. This handicap cannot be overcome with natural color film.

2. Get on their level. 

She really was an ankle biter. ~ Three days old

Lie down on the floor, sit on the sidewalk or kneel down to get at your child’s eye level. This will produce the best candid shots, take away any posed look and decrease the number of shadows on your child’s face. This is the only way to shoot your four-legged children.

3. No horns. 

Check out your background so when you do snap the shutter, you will not end up with a mailbox as your child’s hat. Whether you take a step to the side or move the activity altogether is solely a matter of preference. Do be mindful of the other things which can detract from your wondrous subject.

4. Leave it alone. 

Do not retouch photos of your child. If you take away the scratch on her face from when she met your Aunt Gertrude’s Siamese cat or the proud bruise he earned learning to ride his two-wheeler the first time, you are taking away from your child. You should remember these times for everything that they are.

5. This is not the military. 

Christmas Tree Lighting, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 2010

Do not expect a 3-, 5- and 8-year-old to look at you, be still and smile all at the same time. Catch the little monsters in their natural habitat. The one who is looking to the left is the one you will always remember for his incorrigible, roving eye. A kiss on the cheek makes for a terrific shot.

6. Don’t wait for a holiday. 

The best pictures are taken when your child is enjoying the task at hand. Bring your camera (and your ostrich plumed straw hat) to her tea party. In between the digging of the fox holes and G.I. Joe’s leading of the offensive against the army of Hot Wheels, grab a shot of the commander with dirt on his face and a shovel in his hand.

7. Pick up the pace…and some higher speed film. 

Forget trying to make them sit still. Catch him at the top of the half pipe! Get her in profile, hair straight back in the swing! Add some action.

Life does not stand still. Neither should your memories of it!


What is your favorite picture you have taken of your children, two- or four-legged? Do you have some secrets for great kiddo pictures? What is your favorite film or are you all digital?

(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2008-2012
All photographs (c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2010
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  1. I really like this posting Red and you are absolutely right, I think that there are too many photographs being doctored in some way or another instead of sticking to the basics, which has worked very well in yesteryears.

    I do have some fine photographs of my cat, which I have never added to my Space but you never know, one day I might just do that 🙂

    Yes I have a digital camera but I like to keep the photographs as honest as I can so I guess that is my slant on photography for this evening 🙂

    Have a lovely rest of evening Red
    and a delightfully excellent Wednesday 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

    • Red

       /  March 21, 2012

      I love pics of animals, especially from a good perspective.

      I hope you are having a fine evening, my friend,

  2. Try hiding behind a door and taking the shot as you jump out at the little snowflake ….priceless. I suggest wide angle lens so you don’t miss the shock on their face 😯
    Friggin Loon recently posted..Top Ten Bed Bug Cities of AmericaMy Profile

  3. The biggest problem I have of taking doggy photos is that when I’m ready to capture them they always come towards me. Angus is the worst for it. Good idea of getting down to their level.
    Tony McGurk recently posted..Dave’s Dilemma #23 – Remembering StuffMy Profile

    • Red

       /  March 21, 2012

      Cash does that to me regularly. She wants her nose against the lens…every…stinking…time.

  4. I love the above photo… a very touching moment between a mom and her child… Truly photos are very important… Thanks for this info and reminders 🙂
    adollyciousirony recently posted..The Art GameMy Profile

    • Red

       /  March 21, 2012

      Thank you for coming by today, M. That is my daughter and grandson. We got some of the best shots after the photo shoot. That was taken the day of our first 4 generations portraits.

  5. I like taking pictures of them from high above, with lighting from below, to simultaneously highlight both my superiority and their monstrousness.
    Binky recently posted..Square Wheel SqueelMy Profile

  6. Sorry but my favorites are still the blackmail ones (kidding).

    Nice job
    valentinelogar recently posted..Home Again Holiday EndingsMy Profile

    • Red

       /  March 21, 2012

      Tehe. No, you are not. But that’s okay…I like them, too…

  7. Good post Red. If I listed my favorite kid pictures you’d run out of bandwidth. LOL

    My best advice is to be ready and be patient. Get down to their level and get close. If you must use flash, bounce it off the ceiling. Try B&W where you won’t need to worry over color balance and if you still use film as I do, you can use higher speeds. My favorite low light film is Tri-X developed in Diafine which gives me an ISO of 1250. And don’t be afraid to crop.

    You don’t have to ask kids to pose either because most kids are natural hams.


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