Whenever we head out on a new adventure, I love to take the camera along and to document our memories. However, photography with kids isn’t always easy, even when the adventure is fun. But taking the time to capture the moments is so important to me, because I love having the memories to look back on! So I have put together my top tips for adventure photography with kids that have helped us make the experience enjoyable for the whole family.
If you are wondering where to go on your next family adventure, use this guide to find local adventures in your own backyard!
1. Lower Your Photography Expectations
Taking photos with kids rarely goes to plan. It might start off all good, but even the littlest of problems can turn your adventure photography shoot into chaos. So the first tip I suggest you take on is to lower your expectations. Don’t expect your child to be smiling pretty at the camera or doing the pose you had envisioned.
However, still come with a good idea of what you would like to achieve and simply be willing to adapt to suit your child in the situation. Sometimes, this might mean taking a step back from putting together the shot and letting your child take the lead. You may be surprised by the photos you achieve when kids have the opportunity to show their personality!
2. Kids Don’t Care About Photography, Just the Adventure
Lets be real here, kids don’t care about photography. They just want to go out for a fun adventure and would be more than happy to leave the camera at home! So, with that in mind, it is important to make photography a fun event for your kids.
Whether it is something as simple as throwing rocks, dancing or collecting shells, play into your child’s character and keep them happy with an activity. This is also a great way to capture candid photos that don’t feel posed (more on this in point three) Overall, photography with kids doesn’t have to be challenging, it is something that should be fun for the whole family!
Snacks are also a helpful way to keep your child happy while you take some photos. You can either give them something to eat while you take photos or use it as an incentive to capture the photo you have in mind. It is also good to know when to put the camera away if children are not enjoying themselves. Whether it is because they don’t care about photography, are getting tired or hungry, don’t let your dream photo be the reason you ruin the memory.
3. Photograph Candid Adventure Moments
By focusing on capturing candid moments of your kids interacting with the environment, you can capture the memory of your family adventure! This means focusing less on posing for photos and more on the adventure you are on.
Not only does this encapsulate your memories, but no more feeling awkward as you stand in front of the camera. Simply continue what you would normally be doing while someone else captures the moment.
If you are someone who feels awkward in front of the camera, or quickly runs out of ideas for your next photo, I have created a FREE guide on how to pose with your kids for adventure photography. This is completely free, so why not download the guide and check out my creative pose ideas!
There is even a quick guide included at the end of the guide with the 12 pose ideas that you can save on your phone. This is great for photography on the go, so you can easily refer back to it while on your family adventure.
4. Tell a Story of Your Adventure Through Photography
By capturing candid moments of your child you can use your photography to tell a story of your adventure. Through your photos, you can capture your family memories that are great to look back on once you are home.
To take photos that really tell a story, you need to focus on details other than the subject alone. Capture your child in the landscape of your destination and the activity you are doing. For instance, maybe you are on a hike along a stunning coastline? Take a photo of your child in the hiking carrier as you walk the track, from further away so you can include the views you are seeing!
You can also tell a story by photographing the smaller details of your adventure. Take a photo of your child’s dirty toes as they run around barefoot or a close up of them splashing in the water. These photos are just as important for creating a story of your adventure through photography.
For the best story telling photography, capture your adventures from different angles. This could mean taking a photo from your child’s perspective, from higher/lower or simply by turning around and taking photos from another direction.
5. Compose the Scene First, Kids Second
Before you even get your kids ready for a photo, get everything else ready. Have your scene composed, choose the best angle, frame your shot and have your camera settings right. Once everything is in order, bring your child into the shot and quickly take the photos before they get cranky.
When getting your framing correct a few things to take note of include: getting the horizon straight, making sure there are no other people in your shot and no objects that will obstruct the view of your child. These are simple things to implement, but will improve your photography significantly!
If you spend too long taking a photo it is likely your kid will be ‘over it’ before you even capture the photo. By having the shot ready to go, you can spend more time focusing on capturing the best moments.
6. Learn Photography on a DSLR
Taking photos on your iPhone or point and shoot camera is a quick and easy way to take photos. However, if you want to be more creative with your photography you should learn how to use a DSLR camera. So many people own a ‘fancy’ camera but never take the time to learn how to use it. Knowing how to operate the settings is a great way to improve the quality of the photos of your kids!
Wondering why you should learn to shoot with manual settings? This article provides 5 great reasons to make the switch from auto.
If you are wondering where to start, the 3 most important settings to know about are: aperture, ISO and shutter speed. The best way to learn is to play around with the different settings in different lighting situations until you learn what settings are best for the amount of light.
Aperture: a lower number means more light, but less focus (it will focus on a smaller area leaving the background blurry) If taking a landscape photo, you will need to increase the aperture so that everything is in focus.
Want to know more about aperture? This is a great blog post that explains it in more detail.
ISO: the higher the ISO setting, the more light but more grain in your photo. I like to leave my ISO as low as possible for a crisper looking photo.
Shutter Speed: The slower the shutter speed the more light, but less focus (great for night photography or waterfalls for that silky look) A faster shutter speed is needed for a subject that moves, but will reduce the amount of light in your image.
7. Photograph Kids on Continuous Mode & Auto Focus
When taking photos of kids I always like to have my camera set to auto focus (who has time to manually focus the camera with a wriggly kid!). I also like to shoot on continuous mode, as with adventure photography you never know what action shot will turn out the best. This is also great for when your kid keeps switching moods.
Shooting on continuous mode will mean that you end up with a lot of photos that are very similar, but will increase your chances of getting an incredible shot! You will never regret the photos that you take, just the ones that you missed.
8. Use a Fast Shutter Speed for Adventure Photography with Kids
By using a faster shutter speed for photography with kids, there is less risk that your child will be out of focus. Remember, the faster the shutter speed the crisper the photo. However, increasing your shutter speed will mean less light is coming into your photo. Therefore, you do need to make sure there is enough natural light for a fast shutter speed or you will need to increase your ISO, risking lots of grain in the photo.
If the lighting situation is not optimal, you may need to reduce movement in your photo and use a slower shutter speed.
9. Find the Best Lighting for Photography
As already mentioned, lighting is very important for photography. The best time for adventure photography with kids is during golden hour, not sunset or midday. Golden hour is the hour or two before sunset and is best because shadows are soft and the light offer a subtle glow.
Alternatively, an overcast day also offers relatively good lighting, as it doesn’t create the harsh shadows that a sunny day would. When shooting on an overcast day the light is dispersed by the clouds, making the lighting even.
However, understandably there are times where you would like to take photos and the lighting is not in your favor. Here are some quick tips for these lighting situations:
At Sunset: While sunsets are beautiful, the vivid colors actually create very challenging light for photographing people. So instead of trying to capture the details of your child, photograph their silhouette. Just make sure that their outline is against the open sky, not blocked by trees or poles.
Sunny Day: I am very often taking photos on sunny days, as we love going to the beach when it is warm! The trick with a sunny day is to reduce shadows on the face as much as possible. You can also try increasing your shutter speed and aperture to let in less light so your image isn’t overexposed.
No matter what the lighting situation is, it is always useful when it is consistent. This will save you from having to change your settings between photos. To keep the lighting consistent, you may need to shoot in one direction or avoid partially cloudy days.
10. Underexpose Your Adventure Photos
My last tip is to underexpose your photos rather than overexpose. This has to do with the post processing of your photos. Simply put, you can’t bring back detail from an overexposed image, but you can when it is underexposed.
However, when underexposing your photo, you only want to drop the exposure a little. If you make it too dark your photo will have lots of grain when you try to bring back the details.
Underexposing your photos also gives you a little room for getting the settings right when there is not enough natural light. This may mean that you don’t have to increase your ISO or use a slower shutter speed.
Adventure photography with kids doesn’t have to be a challenge. By knowing how to use your camera and making it fun for your kids, taking photos on your adventures can be enjoyable for the whole family!
It is also important to put your camera away and enjoy time as a family! You shouldn’t be using your camera the entire time your on an adventure. I like to take photos when we first arrive and then put the camera away, only taking it out if I feel inspired or have a particular moment I want to capture.
On top of this, I would really like to encourage you to get in the picture too! However ‘camera shy’ you might feel, you are a part of your family adventures and that should be documented as well. Your kids will also love that they have photos with you as they grow older and look back on the family adventures.