One of the earliest things you realize when you make the jump into more professional camera equipment is that there is a lot of lenses out there. You can choose to accumulate a few lenses, but if you really want to increase your photography skills you can focus on using a single lens and a few tricks to turn out great kid’s photos.
Great images start with good lighting, which gives you more flexibility to work with faster shutter speeds. Find natural light, either indoors or outdoors, and use it to your advantage. While flash can come in handy in a pinch, natural light will give you better kid’s photos.
For under $50, this handy item can help fill in shadows on faces for portrait shots. If you can find a nice location with natural light, the reflector can be placed on the opposite side of the light source to balance out the light on your kid’s photos.
Lenses in the 50mm to 85mm range are the popular choice for portrait photos. If you can get a prime lens in this range with a wide aperture (f/1.2 to f/2.0), even if it’s from a thrift store, you’ll have the most essential tool for taking great kid’s photos.
The benefit of prime lenses is that they generally offer larger apertures than zoom lenses. That gives you the opportunity to create “bokeh” – the lovely softening of the background. Switch to aperture priority and choose a large aperture to see how it works – but you have to make sure that you get perfect focus on your focal point, which is generally faces (or eyes, for close ups).
Not matter how great your equipment is, or how cooperative they are, your kid’s photo won’t turn out if you can’t achieve sharp focus on the parts that matter. Practice using manual focus points, and use continuous autofocus to help maintain focus when your kids get jumpy. Remember that the larger aperture you are using, the less room you will have for error.
It can take a lot of concentration to focus on getting the right settings on your camera, leaving your kids feeling ignored – and soon they lose their focus too. This is where practice can come in handy. If you get used to getting your camera settings ready, get focus, and take shots quickly, you’ll have more time to spend actually taking photos, which means your photo shoot will be completed faster.
When you have a handle on your camera settings you’ll be able to engage more with your kids. Talk to them, tell a story, or sing a song. If you have to focus on the photography, give your kids a few props to keep them busy, for fun faces.
You can have lots of fun with one lens, and the more you use it, the more you’ll learn about photography – rather than worrying about the best lens for kid’s photos. Explore, create, and have fun!