We may not be able to be with one another right now, but we can still share photos and videos to brighten a loved one’s day.
To help you take great photos you’ll want to share, we’ve compiled our top tips for taking great portraits of your kids and pets—because, well, some folks really love their grandkitties and grandpups. We’ve also put together a list of activities you might do with your kids which would make for great photographs.
Look for unique angles that can make your photos special, such as shooting from below your child on a swing set. Photo by Jamie Horton
In this image, the bubbles add to the artistic look of the photograph as they’ve filled so much of the frame. Photo by Jamie Horton
Zoom in close and fill the frame. Whether you’re taking photos indoors or in the backyard, filling the frame puts your subject front and center.
Let your kids get in on the action. Do you have a swing set in your backyard? Get creative with your angles. For example, hold the camera low down and shoot upwards as your daughter swings toward the sky or hold the camera up high, looking down as your son slides down the slide. Many Nikon cameras have a swing out LCD or one that tilts up/down. They make it easy to take photos from high and low angles.
Look for opportunities to elicit natural smiles from your kids. Ask them to repeat a funny-sounding phrase or tell a silly joke. Instinctively they’ll smile more naturally than if you held up the camera and told them to say “cheese”. Photo by Diane Berkenfeld
Along with photos that you set up, look for sweet candid moments like this one, of a youngster blowing bubbles. Photo by Kathy Wolfe
To bring out natural smiles, take a tip from the pros. Oftentimes they’ll talk to their subjects while snapping photos. As your subjects—in this case, your kids—get engrossed in the conversation, they’ll relax and smiles will look more natural. It’s at that time that you want to press the shutter.
And, because you’re photographing your own kids, you know what makes them smile or laugh. Sing a favourite song with them. For toddlers, make funny noises that you know will elicit giggles.
A nice portrait, ideal for framing and gifting to the grandparents. Photo by: Dixie Dixon
Taking another tip from the pros, use a fast aperture lens. That’s one that has a wide aperture of f/1.8 or f/2.8 or even f/4. Set the camera on Aperture Priority and select the wide aperture setting. The camera will select the appropriate shutter speed for correct exposure. By using a wide aperture, you’re blurring the background which will give more emphasis to your subject. The blurred, out of focus areas of the image are known as bokeh and using this technique is one way to make pretty portraits ideal for framing.
Not sure what shooting mode to set the camera to, Program mode (P) lets the camera do the work of choosing the right settings for correct exposure. If you don’t want to think about making any picture taking decisions at all, turn the mode dial to the Green Auto mode. Then all you need to do is press the shutter.
Pictures of your cats and dogs
Many people look forward to seeing what their grandpets are up to. This includes folks with grandchildren too.
If you’re photographing cats, you might want to turn off the AF Assist Lamp. Since cats often enjoy chasing lasers and other light sources, kitty may see the AF Assist Lamp as a toy. You can find it in the Custom Settings Menu.
To capture a sweet portrait of your cat—who might be the aloof type (aren’t most cats that way) wait till she’s curled up in a favorite chair or lounging by a door or window, taking in the sun. Then get close or zoom in for a frame filling shot.
If you’ve got a Z 6 or Z 7 mirrorless camera, make sure you’ve updated the firmware to version 3.0 which adds Animal AF Detection. This feature makes it super easy focus on your favorite cat or dog’s eyes. When shooting video, the camera makes it easy to focus on your cat/dog’s face.
If you’re using a flash, you’ll want to bounce it off the ceiling or a wall for a nicely lit photograph, the same way you’d do when photographing a person.
One tip to making a photo of your dog or cat with a clean background is to stand over your pet with the camera pointed downward, which turns the surface of the ground into the background. Once you’ve got the shot framed, call out to your pet to get him to look up at the camera.
10 Activities that are ideal for picture-taking
We asked some of the moms and dads we know, who love taking photographs of their kids, to tell us what they’ve been up to lately. Below is a list of activities that have been filling their days and are making for great images.
- Taking a walk together as a family.
- Talking the kids into wearing matching pajamas makes for a cute “staged” photo.
- Blowing bubbles is a favourite of the kids and with warmer weather, it’s a great outdoor activity that can be done in the backyard or the front stoop.
- Homeschooling the kids. Since they normally go to school, we’ve been able to take some unique photos of the kids doing their work at home.
- Playing video games or board games is such a fun activity to do as a family and it’s a perfect time to take candid photos of the kids smiling and laughing.
- Getting the kids to dance to music is great exercise and makes for cool video clips.
- Kids playing outdoors with sidewalk chalk—just photographing kids being kids. And having the kids lay down and become a part of the chalk drawing!
- Since we’ve been baking and cooking together more, it’s been a great time to grab some photos and video clips in the kitchen.
- All things puppy! Our family got a new doggie addition a few months ago so anything and everything we do with him is ideal for picture taking. We want to document him growing up as much as we do the kids.
- Since we’re giving the kids haircuts ourselves, we’ve taken pictures during these special “spa days”.
With birthdays we’re doing the best we can to make it special since we can’t have a party. A birthday hat for my son, a little tiara for my daughter, a cake we baked together and opening gifts are some of the photos we’ve taken to celebrate my child’s birthday. The grandparents really appreciate these photos since they can’t be with us right now. A lot of teachers are taking to driving by their students’ homes, honking their horns and holding signs and balloons to help bring a smile to their student’s faces. This is something so special that we captured it on video to remember.
As everyone tries to make the most of this time we’ve found ourselves in, many of us are enjoying the opportunity to spend quality time as a family. Taking photos and videos to share with family and friends is one way to stay close even when we can’t be with one another. So share those photos and videos whether it’s via email, text or uploading to your favourite photo-sharing or social media site; and print the really special ones to display on the fridge or frame them to display on a wall.