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Freeze the action in Kids Photography

Canon Photographer, Jenn Cooper reveals three simple tips to prepare for taking great photographs of your children on your DSLR wherever you are.

The great thing about kids is that they're always on the move. I really like taking portraits of kids where there are trees and I'll often find somewhere that's shaded for a nice, even, lighting.

Three steps to taking portraits of your children at play

1. Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the action

One of the most important tips is to use a really fast shutter speed to freeze the action because you don't have a lot of time to capture the right shot with children. For example, when capturing the kids among the trees, set your DSLR to shoot in TV mode and try a shutter speed of around one 1/400 sec. Use the camera in burst mode as it will allow you to take three frames per second and hopefully get the right shot. 


2. Get down to their level with a telephoto lens

A telephoto lens will enable you to get a little bit further back for great candid shots. Using our earlier tree example, as your child is climbing down from the tree, try getting down low. It's always important to get down to their level and to have fun with them. It helps you see the world through their eyes and helps them feel comfortable. If they're relaxed then you can get some really genuine smiles out of them – but whatever you do, don't say smile. 


3. Try a portrait lens to capture candid moments

Once you've captured some great images at different angles, try using a portrait lens like a 50mm f/1.8, which really helps with a shallow depth of field. This will allow your subject to pop from the background. Consider where you are positioned – can you see your child? If you're having trouble getting their attention, lift the LCD screen around so they can see themselves. It really helps them play it up for the camera and delivers great candid images. Don't forget you can flick it into movie mode, to really capture the kids in action. Sometimes this is more helpful than taking still photos.

Children's portrait photography can be challenging, but it's also incredibly rewarding. So, have fun. Let your inner child come out, and you'll be sure to get some great shots.