Photographing Kids Indoors – How to Capture Your Journey Through Parenthood

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It goes without saying that this has so far been a rough week. And it’s Monday. We’ve got nothing to do and nowhere to go— even our favorite park is closed until further notice! As I was sitting around moping a little bit, I realized that it’s not actually all bad. Actually, it could be kind of good. And let me tell you, once I reframed it with that mindset, I felt a heck of a lot better.

Rather than sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, what if we embraced this? Let’s embrace having time to be with each other. To have nothing to do. To be able to clean out closets (check) and build gardens (tomorrow) and lay in the grass and watch clouds roll past. Isn’t that what we’re always asking for? More time?

Now is as good, if not better, chance as any to create something rad and be creative with your kiddos, and it’s an awesome chance to document your story and your journey through parenthood.

If you come across scenes during your day where you think, “Dang that would make a great picture!” but when you take out your phone, it just doesn’t come out the way you thought it would, keep reading. I’m sharing some quick and easy tips to capture this time how it is. If you’ve been feeling those quarantine blues too, I hope this helps you reframe.

TIP #1: See the light.

Good lighting trumps all else. When I come into a client’s home for their portrait session, I set the family up in the room with the best lighting, not the best decorations. Good lighting doesn’t necessarily mean even light, it can also mean dramatic light. The lighting in your image will tell the story, perhaps even more than the subject.

TIP #2: Create real depth, not faked.

A lot of clients’ favorite images are the ones with that creamy, dreamy background. The dapples of light and blobs of glow you see behind your subject in some of my images is called bokeh. If you’re shooting with an iPhone, you likely love Portrait Mode for this very reason, but for better looking photos, I recommend turning it off. Instead of relying on faked blur and artificial bokeh, pull your subject away from the background. This will give you a softer background all the way to the edge of the image, instead of creating a ring around your subject.

*If you’re using an actual camera, try shooting between f/2 and f/3— you can change this if you’re using Aperture Priority mode or shooting in manual.

TIP #3: Get on their level.

Perspective is super important. Shooting down on kids can cause them to look too small. Shooting down also makes it easy to tell that Mom or Dad took the photo, causing your story to get lost. When shooting kids, I’m eye to eye with them 90% of the time. The other time, I’m experimenting with perspective! Get high, get low, get middle-ish. How you position yourself and the camera matters a lot when it comes to story telling.

TIP #4: Embrace context.

I think a lot of us take too much time out of our day to create a Pinterest-worthy home, even though we know damn well it’s going to get absolutely destroyed the second our babes wake up from their naps. You’ve heard of embracing the chaos, right? Well, in our scenario there may be times where that “chaos” can tell the viewer the why behind the image.

TIP #5: The perfect photo is always an accident.

Last one, y’all! A lot of times parents will apologize for their children’s behavior during a session, but the truth is the best photos come from those times when your toddler does have a tantrum, your teenager is trying his best not to smile, or your baby is crying for a boob. I’m not joking! The best photos in my portfolio came from less than ideal situations. If you have kids that won’t smile, use that time to collect some details— their tiny hands, their wrinkly feet, cowlicks, grumpy pouts. These are way more important to remember than anything you get when you “say cheese!”

I hope some of these have sparked a little fire in your creative mind. I’m challenging you right now to view this time stuck indoors as a way to reconnect with your inner artist and make something rad! Capture those moments that we are otherwise too busy to notice. Share below or send me a DM @breyphoto. Can’t wait to see what you create!

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