While it’s pouring outside (again!) here in Boston as I’m writing this, we can all take comfort in the forecast for the upcoming weekend: 70s, 80s, sunshine – Yes! This time of year is perfect for outdoor portraits. It’s warm enough to dress nicely, and the trees and ground are still pretty colorless, making them an ideal backdrop that doesn’t distract the eye from the subject in the photo. Green grass in particular can be very intrusive, and while magnolia blossoms are gorgeous, if there are a cloud of them (in focus) next to your child’s face, you don’t know where to look.
Some tips for taking outdoor photography portraits of your children
If you want to take outdoor pictures of your kids, here are some pointers to make them great:
- Try to pick a neutral background
- Brightly colored clothing helps focus the eye on the subject
- Shoot in the shade or on overcast days if you can – this seems strange, but it makes for much more even lighting
- For one child, keep the aperture at 7.1 (for two 9.0) at a minimum to ensure all important details are in focus
- Zoom in on the face (instead of walking up closer) to create a closeup headshot with blurry backgrounds
- Focus on the eyes. As long as the eyes are in focus, it doesn’t matter so much if the ears are slightly out of focus. The other way around creates a photo that goes in the trash.
- Shoot at as high a shutter speed as possible. Kids move around and this will help freeze the action.
- If you want to take a few posed photos, take them at the beginning of the session. Before you know it, someone has tripped and is dirty and crying.
- Once you’re done with the formal shots, let the kids run around and just follow them with the camera. You’ll be guaranteed to get some fun, spontaneous shots.
- Take LOTS of pictures. If you have a digital camera, there is no reason to limit yourself to one shot here and there – keep shooting until your memory card is full (then change the card and continue). For each portrait session I do (be it people or pets), I take hundreds of photos.
- Don’t stress out over details – you can get great photos even if you’re in the sun, the background is in focus and your child has ice cream on his/her face. Just have fun with it and create fantastic memories.
Here are a few photos I took of a friend’s kids just last week using some of these techniques: