Roots and Wings Images

Get Them Occupied: How to Capture the Essence of Your Kids

Ever wonder how to get those amazing shots of your kids?  You know, the ones with the bright eyes full of laughter and happiness, but without blurred legs running past you.  Having three girls of my own; six, three and one, I’ve learned (more often than not…the hard way) that kids will be kids.  And if you want to truly capture the essence of their childhood in not only blurred snapshots (which will still show off their spunk), but in great portraits or awesome lifestyle images, I’ve found that you need to get them occupied!  Here are some of my favorite techniques:

1. Get Them Eating

I know, I know…you’re probably thinking, is she crazy…give my kids food and you’ll wind up with images like this: Roots and Wings Images, Raleigh Family Photography

And you’re right, I’ve used this technique many a time, and a good number of the shots come out with messy faces or chipmunk cheeks…but then, there are those winners (the ones you proudly hang on your walls).  So, what in the world do I mean by this?  Well, you have to be a little forward thinking with the food.  Visualize a shot you’d like to get; whether it be a portrait of your beautiful babe or a super close-up of their amazing features…eyelashes and toes are my faves! 

Once you’ve outlined the image in your head, set the scene.  Below, I wanted to get some great black and white shots of my daughters, so I positioned them at a 90 degree angle to a well lit window in our house and put up a dark blanket behind them.  Then I busted out the bowl of popcorn, I shot while they ate and talked…and got silly. Get your focus set while they’re eating and then ask them a question or give them a prompt in between bites (she was rocking her air drums)!

Roots and Wings Images, Raleigh Family Photography

This one of my other daughter was accomplished with a lollipop.  I handed her a pop, positioned her to stand in front of a window and then as she thoroughly enjoyed her treat, I caught her eyes closed and those amazing lashes (yes, I’m jealous).

Roots and Wings Images, Raleigh Family Photography

2. Get Them to Look up (Cloud Watching, if you’d prefer)

Is it me, or do kids have the biggest, brightest eyes?  I’m a sucker for those images showing off their ‘baby blues’ (or browns…whatever the case may be).  To catch these shots, position yourself above them…bird’s eye view.  Try to get high above them, so if that requires standing on a stool or having them sitting on the floor, then perfect…just be careful on those stools!  What I’ve found is getting them intrigued into something on my face; ‘where’s Mommy’s nose?’ or in the sky ‘Do you see that fluffy unicorn cloud/Captain Hook’s boat?’ can cause them to look up at the right moment and…snap.  Make sure that when you are positioned, your kiddos aren’t looking directly into the sunlight (or if they are, have them close their eyes and open on the count of three).

Roots and Wings Images, Raleigh Family Photography

3. Get Them to Explore

To me, nothing says childhood like the inquisitive looks and the investigative demeanor of sensing something for the first time.  Whether it’s hearing the airplane flying overhead, blowing your first dandelion fuzz, licking the chocolate off the spoon after making brownies, or taking those first steps; childhood exploration is precious.

In my opinion, to best capture this type of image, you should think like a lifestyle photographer…so take a step back from them to view the whole scene.  Watch what they’re watching, smell what they’re smelling, get down on your hands and knees if need be to catch them at their level, exploring their little world.

Roots and Wings Images, Raleigh Family Photography

4. Get Them Silly

In a house full of girls, ‘Shake it off’ or ‘Everything is Awesome’ are some definite crowd pleasers when it comes to singing loudly and being silly.  Don’t forget that while beautiful portraits are classic and decorative, those goofy candids are the ones that will make that smile creep across your face on even the gloomiest of days.  Take those shots, when the kids are being silly, get them cracking up after a little tickle sesh or a game of chase; freeze that moment when they are in full kid mode…you’ll treasure those moments years from now!

Roots and Wings Images, Raleigh Family Photography

5. Get in the Shot with Them

Nothing gets them occupied or happier than being with you!  For this moment in time, you are their hero, their everything.  Set your camera on a tripod or position it on the mantle…set the timer or use a remote, get someone else to take the shot for you…however you go about it, make sure to capture special moments between you, those are truly priceless.

Roots and Wings Images, Raleigh Family Photography

Chelsea Salinas
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