Photographing your children outdoors: using colour and light to create memorable photographs
As the weather finally starts to warm up for us in the Northern Hemisphere (fingers crossed!) now is the perfect time to start taking more family photos outdoors. As a mum myself (with an 8 and 11 year old) it’s the beginning of our family bike rides, and having recently moved, walks exploring a new area.
I get really excited photographing outside as my kids have room and space to be themselves, and I can capture really natural shots of them doing the things they love.
So here are some of my top tips for how to capture the most natural and fun memories of your family, whether you are taking photos on your camera or mobile phone.
1. Use locations that your kids already love
Now we have moved house, we are lucky to live closer to an open space with a football pitch and a park. We love to spend evenings there as a family and the park is a great opportunity to take some really fun shots.
The secret to taking a really memorable park shot is to be creative with WHERE you are taking the photo from.
Here is a great example – when your kids are on the slide our instinct is to take the photo stood at the bottom of the slide, but I go to the top and get them to look back at me when they go down on their tummy. If your park has a metal slide you can also get a great reflection which adds even more interest.
The next image should come with a health and safety warning, but you can end up with a photo that captures their excitement at swinging so high! As you can see from the behind-the-scenes image, there are lots of houses and cars behind the swings but I wanted to remove these so I could just capture the amazing blue sky.
I lay down underneath the swing and asked my friend to push my daughter from behind. Just make sure the swing has come to a complete stop before you try to get up! 😊
2. Think about the light when you plan to take photos
Most of my time spent teaching photography is talking about light and how it has a huge impact on your final photo. Depending on what time of day you are taking pictures changes WHERE you should encourage your kids to play for a lovely image.
– If the sun is high in the sky
If it’s daytime and the sun is high in the sky, even if it’s cloudy, it is best to have the sun behind your kids. If they are looking towards the sun then they will squint and their eyes will appear really dark in the image.
– If its first thing in the morning or a couple of hours from sunset
This really is the ideal time to take photos. If you have little ones who are early risers then this is the perfect time to head out. For older children I would get my camera out when the sun is lower and everything has that lovely golden glow like the image below.
For us photographers ‘golden hour’ is when we love to shoot. At this time colours appear more vibrant and you can use the light to can accentuate details like little hands and curls in hair.
3. Look for colour all around you
Even if you live in a less green area there are still lots of great opportunities to capture memories and images using colour.
This is a great example of how you can find lovely colours in the smallest space – we played a game pretending to post some letters (you could do this for real, and it’s a great marker for seeing how tall your kids are getting) and the red post-box made for a lovely background.
4. Include their favourite toys and games
Andy Warhol once said “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” I like to think about photography as a way to remember how our children once were. So I actively look to include my kids favourite toys and games into their photos.
A favourite cuddly toy, book, football tell the story of your child along with their favourite game of peek-a-boo.
I hope this inspires you to get outdoors with your kids and capture those real memories of their favourite spaces and the fun things you do together.