I really enjoy the opportunity to photograph my own children, but they are the most difficult subjects I have. They do not hold still like a clients child would. They are just so over the camera! Fast is key with them. For each shoot I do I get maybe one or two usable images. I have, however, learned a few tricks to make it easier.
First trick is to have your back drop/props completely set up and to have your camera settings exactly how you want them. I never do more than one set up with my toddlers in one day. I usually test shoot on a doll or stuffed animal. I use to ask my daughter to sit for me while I adjusted the lighting but by the time I was ready to go she was done.
My second trick for photographing my children is a high shutter speed. I adjust my ISO keeping it as low as possible to avoid grain, but high enough to accommodate my fast shutter. I do not have studio lighting. I utilize a small space by a window. I also shoot at an f/2.8 or higher especially when using a shallow back drop. I have begun adding back in the blur I enjoy with low aperture when I edit in Lightroom. A fast shutter and higher aperture help me to capture any possibility of a smile of eye contact with the camera. These three images are the only ones where my daughter was looking at me.
My third trick is to allow a favorite toy to be used. This bear was what I used to adjust my lighting, and it just so happened to be my son's favorite. I asked my son if he would like to take some photos with "Bear" and he did. He also made sure to growl like a bear. My daughter isn't as keen on any particular toy, but being allowed to dress like a princess was enough of an incentive.
Fourth... I bribe. Call it an incentive if you rather, but I straight up offer candy. Sit for just a second and get a skittle!
Fifth and final, I take what I get and I know not to push my luck. I have begun to enjoy photos that are the essence of my children. My babies are so over exposed to my camera that they tune it out. If they are in a setting they love, outside by water or in the woods, they relax and I can snap some candids. Sometimes they are dirty, half dressed, or making crazy faces. Once I accepted that the images I capture of them will never be the same as the ones I capture of clients the process became relaxing for me as well. Doesn't mean I never try, but its the reality of things. If you have a friend who does photography, that is always a great trade. Take turns photographing each others family.
Hope these tips help! Just know you are not alone and don't get frustrated.
Fort Smith, Arkansas photographer specializing in newborn, children and family portraits.
All images are copyrighted by Brittney Owens Photography