6 Tips for Better Pics

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The following is a guest post from Alex Maldonado:

Having a house full of kids has its ups and downs. Some of the downs include the hours of 12-3AM. Some of the ups include impromptu dance parties and tons “kodak moments”.

Being a full-time dad means it’s easy for me to “capture” these moments. Being a full-time photographer means it’s hard for me to appreciate them without making them technically perfect. When I first started it seemed like the harder I tried, the worse the picture came out.

I’m pretty sure my 8 year old still has mental scars from me yelling “SMILE!!! HEY, LOOK HERE!!!

Little by little I’ve been able to find a balance in how to photograph my kids so I thought it would be fun to share a few tips with you. But before we start though, let’s bust one myth. You absolutely do not need a $5,000 camera to take “good” pictures of your kids. In fact, (almost) every photo below was taken with my iPhone.

1. Don’t Make Them Look At The Camera

So much of what makes kids adorable is their ability to get lost in a moment. Then we come along with our big giant camera and force them to look at us. It’s no wonder they hate being photographed. Next time you are about to take a photo, stop and think if having your child’s face pointed directly to the camera is really necessary.

2. Moments Are Everywhere

One day as we were walking into our grocery store, I spotted some lawn chairs. It took about a minute to stop and snap this shot. We spend so much time as parents moving these kids around: we often miss the photos along the way.

3. Get On Their Level

Wanna know how your kids sees the world? Get down on your knees. It’s amazing how different everything looks four feet lower.

I walked in and saw that my son had fallen asleep with an iPod touch. (Don’t judge.) Rather than just snap one as I walked past, I took the time, bent down, and got real close. Getting on their level is an easy way to make a photo interesting.

4. Strangers Are Your Friends

The tricky part about being a “photographer” is that I’m always on camera duty. Over the years I have learned to take turns and let my wife shoot more.

But, even beyond that, I have learned to ask others to shoot for us. Anytime we go on a big outing, I ask another dad if they want to trade shots. Again, I don’t care that all the kids are not smiling and looking at the camera. I just love having a shot with all of us in it.

5. Your Photos Are Allowed To Be Messy

Sometime last month I walked into our living room and found this scene. I laughed out loud and then ran to grab my camera. (I cheated and used my “big” camera on this one.)

The moment was just perfect. Kids everywhere, couch in shambles, dinosaurs on the floor. This is real life. This mess is as much a part of our life as anything.

Regular everyday moments are some of the ones that we often forget to capture.

6. Back It All Up

It’s easier now than ever before to take thousands of photos of your kids. I should know, our photo library has 77,636 as of today. The scary part, though, is that it’s easier than ever to lose all of those photos. Hard drives crash, computers go bad, and phones get lost.

Please have a back up of your photos.

The best way to do this is to get an external hard drive. They are like 50 bucks and super easy to use. You basically just plug them into your computer and then copy all your photos to it. Once you have done that take it to your friend’s house and leave it there. If your computer gets stolen or something happens to your house, like a fire or flood, it will be a huge relief knowing you have a disk with everything somewhere else.

That’s it for now. Now stop reading and go take more pictures!

— AlexM is a Texas-based wedding photographer. He specializes in buying lots of expensive gear for his “clients” and then using it at home to take better photos of his kids. Visit his website or shoot the breeze with him on twitter

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  1. Love this blog and its easy to follow tips on taking better pics! My personal fav is #1 – don’t make them look at the camera! For my own kids, posed pictures rank right up there with cleaning their room….done grudgingly and certainly not with a smile! And its a great reminder to ask someone else to snap the picture…recently I went on an amazing trip with my daughter and came back with maybe two or three pictures that I am in with her. I wish I had that to do over!! But most important of all, thank you for the backup reminder! Its an often forgotten step but without it we take a chance of losing our photos (and stories) forever.

  2. Thank you so much for these tips! I bought a $200 digital camera for the very purpose of taking pictures of my kids and posting them BUT I rarely catch a “good one.” This has encouraged me to try some new things! (now, how to stop the “shake”?)

  3. Every September I try to take at least one photo everyday to put in a scrapbook. I get some really fun photos of life. You can only put so many posed photos into one scrapbook so you have to get creative wtih it. Thanks for the tips.

  4. 1 additional tip – if you want the kids looking at you giving a big cheesy grin and say cheese (I am exactly like this dad, so my kids are all tuned to me saying “Okay, say Cheese!”) I first take the shot with the kids (or everybody!) looking in different directions – than after I’ve snapped off a couple of those, than I go for the “Cheese!” Shot. I use to shoot ONLY the instant shots – nobody posed, everybody moving and doing their own thing. Than when I tried to make a photo calendar of my Mom for my Dad, or a photo calendar of the kids for the grandparents – I would have NO pics of any one actually grinning at the camera! After that I started shooting off my 1 – 2 first shots, an than ruin the moment by asking everyone to say Cheese. My family has learned how to be good sports about it, since I’m taking thousand of photos of them all the time anyway – and they have also learned to just look up and grin – not necessarily stop what they are doing!

  5. I loved this guest post! I have learned some of his lessons the hard way – screaming at my kids is really not the point! 🙂

    And I love the messy living room picture. I could probably do that shot every single day… 🙂

  6. Love the tips, and I love the pictures, especially the lawn chairs.

    I’ve learned over the years to take a ton of pictures of my kids just to catch that right moment, the right expression. I still keep all the rest because to me the whole session tells a story.

    I’ve recently been getting down at their level to take my pictures, and I love it. I didn’t realize how much I missed until I was at the kids’ level.