Like many parents, I got into photography as soon as I realized I was having a baby. We invested in a Canon EOS Rebel XS, and I promised my husband I’d learn how to use it. By the time my daughter was born I sort of knew how to get out of full-auto mode, and I had a couple of lenses. Seven years, one more kid, a few cameras, and several lenses later — it’s evident I fell in love with photography.
My go-to camera bodies now are my EOS 80D and EOS 5D Mark IV. I love keeping my ultra-compact 40mm “pancake” lens on for outings with the kids that may or may not present a photographic moment. It’s light enough to keep in my purse and not feel much of a difference. When I’m going out and know I’m going to be taking photos, I prefer using my 24–70mm lens because I like having the option to zoom with my feet instead of my lens. And then in my home when the light isn’t so great I really like to use my 50mm f/1.4 lens, so I can work better in low-light situations .
With photographing kids it’s a balance between getting them to do what you want, or capturing them doing what they want you to see. I do love the treasured posed photos of my kids where they’re both smiling at the camera, but I really enjoy taking candid photos of them doing things they love. Sometimes I try to be creative and ask them to jump, or spin around as fast as they can together. They wind up laughing and smiling and I can snap my shot.
When you let go of expectations and what you hope they’ll do for you, and focus on capturing them as they are, things can really get fun.
When I’m trying to capture candid photos of my kids I try to keep a few things in mind:
- Stay aware of where the light is coming from: I like to put myself between the window and my kids so that the light is shining on them instead of behind them, causing more shadows.
- Use continuous drive mode: When kids are being kids they may or may not repeat what they’re doing again. I set my camera to continuous shooting mode so I can take a burst of photos at one time, and I have a better chance of getting a good one.
- Set a high shutter speed: I make sure I’m ready to freeze the action by using a faster shutter speed for active candid photos. I like to shoot at a minimum of 1/400th of a second, if not faster.
I believe it is so important to capture these moments with our kids now because they grow up so fast. In the seven years I’ve photographed my kids I’ve taken countless photos and captured priceless memories and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Want to learn more from Jennifer online? Check out her Canon Online Learning class, "Child’s Play: Simple Tips for Photographing Children."
Want to learn with Jennifer in person? Learn about her Destination Workshop, “Capturing the Essence of Childhood.”
Tips for great back to school photos
- Let your child choose the outfit: The first day of school is a special occasion. Mark it with a special outfit picked out by your little one his or herself.
- Don’t be afraid to stage it: It can be stressful worrying about getting that perfect “back to school” photo the morning of the first day of class when you’re already rushing and have a dozen things on your mind. Take your photos a couple days before with some books, or their backpack near the school or their bus stop.
- Freeze the routine or a new tradition: The first time waiting at the bus stop, or your kiddos holding their new lunch boxes as they walk past the crossing guard on the way to class.
- Size them up: Find a mural, a sign or doorway you can photograph your child next to at the beginning of the school year then again at the end so you can easily admire their growth.
- Get in the picture: Don’t forget to get yourself in the photo with your student to mark the special occasion. Hand your camera off or use the Wi-Fi® feature to remotely fire your camera, using your compatible smartphone as a remote control device with the Canon Camera Connect app*.