10 tips for taking better pictures of kids - without spending a fortune

little girl on her daddy's back - story about taking better pictures of kidsA picture's worth a thousand words, and often times a good picture of your child is worth a thousand pictures -- and if you pay a professional, worth plenty of cash, too. While we can't turn you into a pro overnight, we can share a collection of tips to help you take better pictures of your kids without shelling out for a new camera, photography lessons or a professional photographer.

Professional photographer Tamara Lackey shared the following tips for taking better pictures of kids from her upcoming book and DVD, Capturing Life Through (Better) Photography. All of these tips can be done with a standard point and shoot camera so there's no need to run out and spend $500 on a digital SLR to take better pictures of your kids.

How to take better pictures of kids:
  1. Be a Mirror -- Children should mirror parents as they interact -- turn it into a game by getting children to sit, stand and pose like their parent.
  2. Be Spontaneous -- Say anything but CHEESE! Use silly expressions to get children genuinely laughing and smiling and eliminate that pre-conditioned "cheese" smile.
  3. Location, Location, Location -- Try photographing children in new locations, whether it's a different room in the house or a new scenic location near home. By picking a new venue for a photo shoot, parents can bring new life into photographs.
  4. Match Their Personality -- Consider how location fits a child's personality. If a child is full of energy and active, a shoot in a bustling downtown would work, while a shy or reserved child may prefer a park or quiet setting.
  5. Life Stage -- Consider how location fits a child's life stage. If a child is in the middle of potty training, an open field without any bathroom nearby is probably not a good idea.
  6. Snap, Snap, Snap, Snap -- Keep snapping photos. Don't put the camera down after you snap the first shot – many times the best photographs are taken in the seconds after the "big smile" moment.
  7. It's all in the Lighting -- Turn off the flash and use natural light as much as possible for more natural-looking imagery.
  8. Steady Now -- Use a simple mono-pod to steady shots when shooting at soccer games and indoor, poorly-lit school plays. This will make a dramatic difference in minimizing motion blur.
  9. The Little Things -- Remember to photograph the little "fine art" scenes of life -- not just the children, but their scattered shoes on the floor, a bunched up wet towel, their overflowing book bag. These things may drive parents nuts now, but they'll be fondly remembered over time.
  10. Have Fun! -- Parents should show they are having fun. Kids can tell when adults are getting stressed out about trying to get the perfect shot. If parents loosen up then children loosen up, too.
The only tip that costs money would be investing in a mono-pod which can be found for $30 or less. If you prefer to make your own, check out this video on how to turn a hiking stick into a monopod for $15.

If you are still looking for more resources you can check out Tamara's book and companion DVD or look on YouTube where there are plenty of tips from experts and talented amateurs for taking better pictures of your kids.

Remember, you don't need to have an expensive camera and a ton of experience to capture great pictures of your kids, just a few tips and a bit of time to have fun and take a lot of pictures with your kid.
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