Growing Up Too Quickly: How to Take Better Photos of Your Children – Part One

Do you enjoy taking photos of your family? Have you ever wondered how you might capture those precious, fleeting moments with your children better?

In this series for the Inner West Mums, renowned local photographer Anni Payne shares some simple, achievable tips to improve the photographs you take of your family. In this first part, Anni explains the basics of composition and some ways in which you can create a more compelling composition.     
Part One: Making a compelling composition
There are lots of opinions about what can make a photo great. One of the most important elements of taking a photo, I think, is composition – that is, where you position your kids within the picture, or rather, how you position your camera around your kids.
If you don’t have a zoom on your camera then you need to move yourself and ‘be the zoom’. By stepping back a little bit, you’ll notice that you can see more through the lens. Try a full-length shot, or a wide shot, which can show the context your child or children are in and capture the general atmosphere as well.

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Reversing this naturally means that you’ll gradually come closer in. This is often called a mid-shot – from about halfway up the body – and it’s a good scale for depicting the emotion of a moment between people.

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If you go in closer again, you might fill the screen with just a face. By coming in closer, you’ll get the full impact of a close-up. This is a nice way to capture the character and beautiful expressions of your babies!

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Once you’ve got the size of the shot in mind, you might want to think about other things that will affect the impact of the photo. A classic composition rule is often referred to as ‘the rule of thirds’. The rule of thirds basically means that you think of a picture in three parts and then position the main subject in relation to those thirds. For example, a simple portrait of a person within a vertical frame will generally look more balanced if the person’s head is one third from the top of the frame (or two thirds from the bottom if you’d prefer).
If you’d like to take a simple portrait of a person within a horizontal frame, the composition will look better balanced if the person’s head is not only one third from the top of the frame, but also one third in from either side of the frame. This is also referred to as creating some negative space in a composition, or weighting the subject of a picture within the frame.

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Other topics in this series include:

  • Colours, clothing and props
  • Background choices
  • Understanding lighting
  • Having some tricks up your sleeve

Look out for these in upcoming articles and get the highlights here with this free downloadable infographic:

Cover image ©
Anni Payne is the co-owner and director of Milk & Honey Photography, a natural-style portrait studio based in the Inner West for 20 years. Anni is a judge and mentor and a Master photographer.


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