Kids grow up fast, and you want to make sure you capture every step of the way. Here in Hong Kong we’re pretty lucky to have some amazing backdrops — all that is needed are your little subjects — so let’s make sure you are ready to snap away, Mama!
There are loads of factors to think about when photographing little ones. The brilliant thing about photography today is that we can see what we’re taking, and we can take as many as we like! While that’s great, keeping some of these tips in mind will mean you get the shot in 10 pictures, and not 100!
Use variation. Don’t just focus on the ‘perfect picture’. Move around and experiment! Some of the best photos are by accident. Get up close for details such as hands and feet, and take a step back to capture surroundings and atmosphere.
Keep lighting natural where possible. Flash can take the atmosphere and spontaneity out of an image, create shadows and be an annoyance.
Location Location Location. Shoot in the garden, the park, the beach and the playground. Natural backdrops are always a stone’s throw away in Hong Kong. Think about the different backgrounds on offer near you!
Have Fun! The best shots (and smiles!) are the genuine ones. Posing isn’t always natural, and kids tend to grimace or pull funny faces when asked to smile for the camera. Make photography fun, not a chore, and they’ll soon be begging you to take their picture!
There are so many options for cameras nowadays that it’s easy to get confused if you’re just starting off. Take some time to research the different options for range, type and size and think about what works best for you. Even if you prefer shopping online, pop into a store first to get a feel for the camera.
Recommended stores (with branches across Hong Kong):
Point and click cameras – These small, digital cameras are compact, easy to slip in your bag and offer more scope and control than using your phone. They also have a variety of settings you can experiment with as you perfect your photography skills. I recommend:
- Panasonic Lumix TZ40 – With a Leica lens, this is a great compact covering everything from wide angle landscape shots to action close-ups. A manual setting allows for more control.
- Sony Cybershot TX30 – It’s waterproof, shockproof and dustproof — and it still looks sleek. This camera is a great all-around option for capturing your toddler in a range of settings and moods.
- Canon Powershot SX280 – Small and light with built-in WiFi and GPS technology, this camera is great for travelling, uploading and sharing your photos easily.
Professional cameras – Professional DSLR cameras can really boost your image quality — they’re fast, focus well and have a variety of high-end features to capture amazing shots. While they may look complicated, there’s always an auto setting for beginners to start off with. Try using an entry-level SLR with the basic lens, and then experiment with changing lenses as you get more familiar. I recommend:
- Canon EOS 700D (with an 18-55mm kit lens)
- Nikon D5100 (with an 18-55mm kit lens)
Memory card – Don’t skimp on cheap, unreliable memory cards as the last thing you need is to lose all your photos! I recommend SANDISK for a reliable SD card. Remember to always format your card when you first insert it into your camera. As a basic reference, a 2GB card can hold anywhere between 500-1500 images (depending on camera and image size).
Bags – Camera bags have evolved to become both functional and stylish — from a protective case you can slip into your handbag to actual handbags designed for SLRs, some of the bags on offer today will make you want to use them even without a camera! Choose a bag that lets you access the camera quickly and easily — you don’t want to miss the moment while you’re struggling with a zipper! Some great online options are ZKIN or ONA.
POSING WITH KIDS
So you may have the fancy gear now, but it’s pointless if your little one isn’t cooperating! Here are a few tips to get your children looking their best in front of the lens.
The first two weeks are the perfect time for parents to go snap-happy as the babies are usually sleeping and easy to move into position!
Take off the onesie. Clothes drown newborns, so take them off, keep the room warm and snap away.
Keep baby comfortable. Use cushions, a beanbag or your birthing pillow to prop your baby up. Newborns are particularly flexible, but be gentle and always keep their heads well supported.
Position the baby. Lay babies on their front and tuck their arms and legs underneath, or wrap them in a swaddle to stop them from wriggling!
Keep it natural. Flash lighting is intrusive and not flattering for baby shots. Open the curtains to let in natural light and shoot away!
Babies and Toddlers
They’re just starting to develop their personalities and you want to capture their first smiles.
Enlist dad to help. It can be difficult to photograph and pull faces at your subject, so have someone else do the entertaining while you shoot! A great way to get your little one looking at the camera is a ‘shutterhugger’. These are different characters and animals that sit around the camera lens to get their attention. Look online (here or here) or make your own!
Get down to their level. One of the most important things is to get down to the toddler’s height as you will miss so much shooting from above. So don’t be afraid to lay on the floor, face-to-face, to get those gorgeous expressions!
So, they’ve passed the toddler phase and now they have a newfound independence! Photographing older kids usually takes a bit more cooperation, so use these tips to make it easy on yourself.
Choose a fun location. Go to the playground, the beach or the park — wherever you can capture them playing games and doing something that’s interesting and fun for them. Your pictures will be much more natural and have a happy subject too!
Bring props. Bubbles, balls, balloons, bikes — all these things can be incorporated into your photos to make it seem like less of a chore for your mini model!
Get them involved! Standing still and smiling can result in awkward, staged images… so get them jumping, running, riding and playing! Show them the photos along the way as it helps them to understand the process and encourages them to smile wider or jump higher in the next shot!
USE YOUR PICTURES
It’s so easy today to take photos, upload them to your computer and then forget about them completely! Whether it’s putting a print on your wall, making a coffee table book or just setting up a slideshow, make sure to show off your kids (and your creative skills!)
Books – It’s easy to create books with companies who have pre-designed templates and layouts, so all you have to do is drag and drop! Most deliver worldwide, so your handiwork is brought straight to your door! Check out Apple, Shutterfly or Blurb to get started.
Cards – From birth announcements to invitations, photo cards are a great way to display your picture perfect images. I love Tinyprints for sending out invitations, announcements and cards using their stylish, fun templates. Alternatively, Moonpig is great for single cards — you also have the option to write your message inside and send it directly to the recipient!
Canvas and Prints – Create a beautiful wall display by turning your shots into works of art. Simply take the hard copy into the store (check out Fotomax in Hong Kong) or upload your photo to sites like Memoprint and O-live to have your canvas / prints delivered directly to your door.
Digital Frames – Nowadays you can set up a screensaver on your iPad or laptop, but don’t forget digital frames, which are a lovely way to display many photos at once.
Photography is a great hobby to get kids involved with at any age and can keep them entertained for hours. Create an adventure by planning a day trip, experimenting with the camera and making a scrapbook with the results!
Disposable Cameras – The fun thing about these cameras is waiting to see what you’ve shot!
Vtech Kidizoom Camera Connect – Drop it, throw it — this camera is built for kids! The quality is basic, but with games and video capability, it’s a great starter for toddlers!
Fuji Film Instax Mini 8 – Go back in time with these instant credit card-sized photos, and see the pictures as you take them! The cameras themselves come in a variety of fun colours and you can even get themed film with your favourite Disney characters!
APPS AND TOOLS
So, you’ve got the photos and they’re great, but if only you could crop out Dad’s finger, or make it black and white! Luckily, there are loads of tools out there to help you tweak your shots. Try some free downloads from the App Store and get editing!
Snapseed – Use this app to crop photos, improve the contrast or change images to black and white. This lets you scroll through a choice of filters and choose your favourite! It’s as simple as tapping your screen!
Photoshop – If you’re feeling brave, get a copy of photoshop and experiment with professional editing. This program allows you to do virtually anything from erasing wrinkles to swapping out backgrounds.
Share your photos – Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are great social media sites are to share the odd photo with friends! Gallery sharing sites like Flickr or Photobucket are also popular — you can create private galleries to show loved ones far away who can then download and print the photos themselves!
Now that you have all you need to get started, charge the batteries, put your little ones in their best outfits and get snapping!