FAQ: photography edition, part II!

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as requested by so many of you, today’s post is all about photography! i’ve already shared a post with all the information about what sorts of cameras and photo equipment we use, as well as the back story to both josh and me being self-taught when it comes to all things in the photography world (read that post HERE first if you might have missed it). but today, i’d love to talk more about getting the shot.

so let’s start with candid photos.

i’m going to focus this post on taking candid photos mainly of kids, because my children are my favorite thing to photograph, and i’ve found some really helpful tricks over the years when it comes to capturing them in a photo.

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TAKING CANDID PHOTOS OF CHILDREN

i think the biggest thing when it comes to taking a successful photo of a little one, is to try to capture the best side of your child. this usually mean capturing them in action, in their element, doing their thing. having them hold still, stand in a certain spot and scream “cheese” at you often doesn’t really translate well, since their smile or body language might not seem as natural or authentic… it’s usually not as fun for everyone involved, either.

i feel like i’ve learned this through a lot of trial and error. josh and i have this joke actually, that whoever is holding the camera and taking the photos (since we both switch off so often), is that whoever is holding the camera “can’t be a jerk.” i am definitely guilty at times over the years of feeling like i have to get a certain shot, or even the “perfect shot” (whatever that means) and everyone needs to come stand here and smile now or whatever, but it’s never fun for anyone and just stresses all of us out. so josh and believe that the best way to capture the best photo of your child is to just be ready with your camera…. get down low, step back and away as they play or do their thing, wait for it, be patient and not overbearing, and basically, just don’t be a jerk. ;)

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i have found that i gravitate towards images that capture movement in some way. i find they tell such beautiful stories, and i love seeing my kids mid action having a great time. i think sometimes we might feel like we have to wait until everyone is paused or holding still to take the photo, but i think movement is a beautiful thing that children do so well, and some of my favorite shots from over the years with our family involve a lot of activity and movement within the frame.

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something else i think can be useful when capturing the best side of your kiddos, is to take photos from all sorts of angles. down low, up high, they are always on the move and it’s nice to change up the perspective.

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i know i already said my peace about how i love the candid shot over the posed, but this photo of eleanor backstage with the rockettes is a great example of that. i love that her face says everything as she looks up in awe at these rockettes and it’s the photo i prefer over the one where they are all looking over at us and saying cheese. everyone has a different preference for what makes a photo special to them, but this is definitely mine.

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and if you are wanting to get a shot with all your kids, or a group of kids together, but still want it to feel fun for everyone and not so structured and rigid, we have found that being silly while doing so keeps the mood happy and light and the smiles more playful and real.

our kids are so into making up their own knock knock jokes, that we’ll share one or ask them to share one right as we take the photo. something else you can do is have another person beside the photo taker make silly ears on whoever is about to take the photo, say a funny word or bunch of made up words, or just do a silly motion towards them having the camera person pretend they have no idea what is happening. somehow, this is gold in our home.

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another thing worth noting when it comes to taking photos of kids when they are moving, is to try using a setting like a burst (where it’ll take several photos at once). most phones have this now and on our canon DSLR camera, it is called the high continuous shooting mode. it makes all the difference with capturing something in action!

another great tip if you’re using a DSLR and your subject is moving (like kids running around!) is to use the AI focus or servo mode which will help keep your subject in focus as they run or move quickly while you take several photos as once. this way you don’t have to refocus the frame before every photo you take. OR try a higher f/stop for a smaller aperture and deeper depth of field, so basically as your kids move closer to you or farther from you they will remain in focus for longer (opposite of a portrait setting).

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i think at the end of the day, capturing photos is all about preserving a memory and we are so fortunate to have such high quality cameras these days accessible on even our phones! i think the biggest key is to just not stress about it, and pull it out when the moment feels right, but also know when to sit back and just enjoy. you want those moments where you do pull the camera out to be fun for everyone, so make sure everyone is comfortable with it. there have been times where my kids don’t feel like a picture, and i always try to listen and respect that and put down the camera. ironically, there are also moments where i don’t even have the camera with me and they ask me to take a photo of them or something they are doing, because they know this means we’ll have it documented forever and they love looking at our photo books and family videos frequently. since photography is such a big part of our lives, we’ve also gotten the kids their own little cameras and they love documenting our travels through their own eyes which we always love seeing afterwards. lately, eleanor and samson often want to take photos with our bigger DSLR as well, and after i get over the nerves of them dropping it, it’s fun to see how interested they are in taking more photos and videos on their own.

i hope these tips are helpful! we have learned through so much trial and error and while we still have much to learn when it comes to photography, we are sure grateful for cameras and the chance to preserve memories!

i am already working on a a few other photography posts for you, including our photo editing process, since that is another big question we have gotten quite a bit (it’s also my favorite part). so stay tuned for a separate post on that, but let me know in the comments if there is anything i might have missed within this section you’d like to learn more about! or if you have tips you’ve found helpful when photographing little ones, please share!

  1. Carly

    You guys always take the best photos! I’ve really enjoyed watching your photography style evolve on this blog. Thanks for the tips!

    We’ve started taking candid photos instead of posed photos for our blog and I prefer them so much more. It definitely requires taking 10X as many photos and sorting through more photos but the final result is worth it.

    Have a wonderful week!

    Carly from http://www.AModernMomBlog.com

  2. Breanne

    Love this post! Super helpful. In time, could you also share how you store all your photos? Thank you!

  3. Alida

    Thanks Taza, it’s very generous to give all these tips for free! I have learned that the photo’s I love most are the ones that capture a moment or emotion.

  4. Jessica

    I’d love to know how you organize all your photos/store them. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Sierra

    Such a great post! I am the same way, having my boys get together to say cheese or bribery, (although fruit snacks sometimes do the trick ;) doesn’t really work. I’d much rather capture them in their element having fun than a staged pic. Such great memories you capture of them. Sierra~Beautifully Candid

  6. marine

    thanks a lot for this post!
    but unrelated to this, when is the kids bedroom reveal? :)) I’m dying to see it, as I am in the process of renovating my own children’s bedroom and you are so inspiring!!
    Thanks

  7. Hello Naomi! I have been following your blog since, well nearly the beginning! At the time it was just Eleanor and Kingsley. You acturally inspired me to create a blog to document my family adventures. One thing I find very challenging, is getting photos of myself WITH the family. I am usually the one taking the photos, of the kiddos and my husband. What tips can you recommend for snapping photos of the whole family? Especially when a photographer is out of the budget? I have the Canon 5D Mark III.

    • TAZA

      oh my gosh. i just drafted an entire blog post about this and i’ll share it later this week! i so hear you on this so stay tuned!!!!

  8. Allie

    love this! you are so talented… thank you for sharing. are there any iphone apps you use to edit your pictures? if so, which ones?

    • TAZA

      yes! i’ll tackle all the editing questions in an upcoming post, but i really love VSCO and a color story apps for my iPhone photos!

  9. Mary

    Thanks for all the great tips! I’m definitely prone to waiting for the “right” moment to snap a picture… which is pretty impossible with an 10 mo old! I’d also love to hear different ways you store your pictures (print them out, make photo books, etc) I love having prints but feel like I just have TOO many to print out!

  10. Jordyn

    I’m really needing help with the organization and storage part. How do you store and organize? How many backups? It’s all so daunting and I’ve lots photos before so I’m learn how to best tackle that part. Thanks for all the tips!

  11. nanette

    these are such great tips! we just bought our first “big” camera, so i’m so excited to put it to use! one of the things i love about your photos is that they’re so casual, and the kids are just doing what they do. you guys are so good at capturing moments. i hope to so the same with my girls. thanks for all the great advise!

    • TAZA

      thank you, nanette! good luck with your new big camera! so exciting!

  12. Sarah

    thank you for sharing – right now it’s my two little nephews I try to capture well and can’t wait to test out your tips!

    an additional question (or 2): what does your family do for saving the “keeper’ photos? you mentioned photobooks – do you create annual books or one from each trip etc.? and also digital storage – i’m looking for a good solution for keeping all of my photos organized (and backed up) on my computer! many thanks!!

    • TAZA

      whenever i’m downloading photos, i download them straight to an external hard drive. everything is filed away there by date, and year. this can get complicated though, since a lot of the hard drives are constantly changing with technology and a few of our older ones feel really dated and struggle to keep up when i plug them in now. i’m in the midst of trying to transfer things on the older ones. we also print out photos into books for the kids to go through during the year!

  13. ma

    Thank you for sharing!!! yours photos are really inspiring

    kisses from France

  14. Hannah

    My dad took loads of photos of my brother and I back when we were little. I love looking back and knowing that my parents loved us very very much. Your kids are so lucky to have all their best memories recorded for them!

    http://www.chausadventure.com

  15. As a “photographer” with a “degree” I think what your photo friend told you is garbage. I’m so sorry that it echoed for you over so many years! I understand where she is coming from as I share a similar frustration with people calling themselves professional before their work is marketable and quality, It saturates the market. But the thing is – you’re not IN the market – you’re producing your own work for your own family and business! It doesn’t apply at all! I am 100% behind ANYONE who wants to take beautiful photographs of their family — and maybe eventually someone else’s for a profit. I love your images – they are from the most perfect, loving point of view that us hired peeps try to recreate in an hour session. As your children’s parents, your images are so much more valuable because they are so much more genuine. Your kids are lucky that you’ve invested your time, practice, and money into making quality photographs that they can keep forever.

    • TAZA

      thank you, kenyon. that is so sweet of you to say and that really means so much!

  16. Katherine

    I have always loved your photographs and the way you capture your beautiful family!

    I’m excited to read the editing installment. I particularly love the distinctive depth of color in your shots. Do you use the same preset all the time? I hope you share your secrets on this!

    If you created your own presets for Lightroom – I’d buy them :)

  17. Ryann

    How do you carry your DSLR around?? I can’t ever seem to commit to lugging it around when out and about with the kids!

  18. Ashley

    Thanks so much for this Taza! One question I have is regarding storage and organization, digitally and printed. Would love to hear what you guys’ system is!

  19. Shoshanna Stein

    Why do you make that face with your nose scrunched up? I am asking because in the sushi thumbnail, it makes it seem as though the sushi was bad or not fresh.

  20. Kerryn

    Hi Taza, can you please share how you pick your photos to edit. I take my photos on burst and have 100 of a similar moment but I just don’t know how to then pick the best one!!! And end up having lots of similar photos in our annual photobook.

  21. Olivia

    As a Mother of two 5 year olds (twins 😍) I can
    Tell you, you Will have so much fun photographing them together. It’s so easy to take the cutest pictures since they entertain each other, it doesn’t Get Any more spontaneous than that. Until they’re five that is…now I did need Some advice and a Reminder to not be a jerk and keep it fun 🙈
    Now I Still have to print all these memories. Not sure yet to print them in polaroid format and put them all in a memory Box, each of them with a Note On it or in a photobook…

    Olivia

  22. Olivia

    …and 2 years ago I was diagnosed With metastatic breast cancer, Aged 28. Although I’m doing very well now and the kids hardly notice anything I do realise these pictures may be all they have one day. By looking at them they Will know how loved they were and how life was. Its not easy but it would be far Worse without My iPhone! So Yes, memories are important and for me a constant motivation, I get a little kick out of Every great shot 🤓

  23. Sam

    I love the post! I have similar sentiments about capturing candid moments and movement with people, but kids especially.

    I am curious, as it sounds are many others, about storage and organization. Staying on top of backing up my photos is so difficult. I am also curious about how to stay on top of photo books/albums and videos. Any recommendations on sites to create photo books for the home/coffee table? I currently use artifact uprising.

    Thanks!

  24. Kat

    Have always loved your photos. I’m wondering if you use any photoshop presets to edit your photos? And if so, which ones?

  25. Kelly

    Hi! I’d love to know how often you make photobooks and how you group the photos (i.e., for a trip or time period, etc). Also do you have a preferred photobook company? Thanks!

  26. Sydnee

    Your photos always look beautiful! Looking forward to reading more of your tips. Do you have a default f-stop and shutter speed you usually start with?

    Sydnee | Design by Sydnee 💗

  27. I love this posts! I have a little Q. Are you printing the photos you take and make albums for every child? or just frame a few and hang it around the house?
    Thank you!
    Lital

  28. Amanda

    This may seem like a dumb question, I may be out the loop here, how do you connect your photos from your camera to your phone?

    Years ago, if I wanted to share a photo from my camera (and I just have a simple little camera)i had to download to my computer, emailto myself, download with my phone. Lol such a hassle.

    So do these nice professional cameras have cords that attach to your phone for easy transfer of the pic?

  29. Julie

    Thanks for all the tips! Very useful. I’ve always been amazed by your photos and how simple but yet so beautiful they are. They really capture the moment so well!

    I love taking pictures of my girls too. The thing that I find quite hard is how to save them afterwards. I print a lot of them, do albums and photo books and it’s taking taking a lot of space in the house. Would you share the photo books (or albums) you are refering to?
    xxx from Paris
    Julie

  30. Meagan

    LOVE these photo posts! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned and how you do it. I have a 4 year old daughter who is very resistant to her picture being taken— trying to learn how to navigate that! Loved the “don’t be a jerk rule” and the post about how to get in the photo. I’m the only picture taker in our house and I’m always bummed to look thru a year of photos and see how few I was in. I’d love to know what company you use for printing and photo books.

  31. Rachel

    Thanks for the tips! Quick question…How the heck do you take an action picture of kids without them being blurry?? No matter what I’ve tried, I can’t seem to do it and it makes me sad because I miss a lot of great moments because they just come out so blurry. Especially on your phone (I have an iPhone and can’t for the life of me figure it out!)

  32. Katie

    This post is so timely for me! Your tip on AI focus or servo mode is super helpful… and something I have not explored. I am going to play around with this setting this week and try to get a good shot of our constantly moving toddler! Thank you :)

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