I thought I’d share a few of my tips for getting those on-the-go pictures of my almost nine-month-old son Wyatt. One of the reasons I got started in photography was I was tired of having my snapshots of family gatherings or events always turn out blurry or about a half-second too late. You know what I’m talking about and you probably share in my frustration. That’s when I began to learn everything I could about my camera and realized a point-and-shoot wouldn’t cut it. I started saving for a DSLR.

Don’t get me wrong, I take about 80% of Wyatt’s random pictures with my point and shoot. There are some great ones out there, but the thing that bugged me the most about point and shoot cameras was the delay when I pressed the shutter and when the camera actually took the picture. I won’t get into all the details of why it works that way, but it was my biggest frustration.

So, for today’s blog post, I thought I’d give a few pointers on how to get great family snapshots of your kids.

First, if at all possible, invest in a DSLR. Canon makes a great starter in their Rebel T3. Yes, you might feel like it is breaking the bank, but its worth the investment, plus, it comes with video capabilities. One thing I love about DSLRs is the moment you press the shutter button, the camera takes the picture. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever have motion blur in your photos, you need to read your manual and actually learn how to use your camera, but it does reduce that number.

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I’ll be completely honest here, I’ve used my Rebel XSi on auto (gasp) when photographing those random moments with Wyatt. I want to capture the moment that’s happening right now and I don’t want to take the time to set my aperture, ISO, and shutter speed to ensure the correct exposure because by that time the moment has passed.

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I shoot in auto for a couple of reason, timing, like I mentioned above is a big one. Another reason is the lighting might not be perfect where he is at and to compensate for poor lighting, I’ll need a high ISO and a slow shutter speed, which will more than likely cause a grainy, blurry Wyatt. So, with my little pop-up-flash and settings on auto, I can ensure that I will capture a mostly correctly exposed picture. I will use the auto or program feature on the fly or in the moment if Wyatt is doing something super cute.

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Now, when I’m outside or planning to take some pictures of Wyatt, I will shoot in manual and adjust everything for the correct exposure. There is no right or wrong way to take pictures of your children. You simply want to capture the moment and however you choose to do that, either auto or manual mode, is simply up to you.

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A second tip is to get low and on their level. You see the world through their eyes and it becomes more interesting. I’m always lying on the floor in the prone position trying to capture something directly on Wyatt’s level. Occasionally I do get the big picture, like him sitting on the floor in his room playing with all his toys, but I like the close up ones on his level best.

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A third tip, and I’veĀ alludedĀ this one already, is watch your lighting. Open up all the blinds and let that warm sunlight stream in. Turn on those desk lamps or the lights in the living room. The brighter your room, the better your image. . . typically. That’s not a hard and fast rule. But, consider adding some light to your house if its dark and your pictures tend to have that look of the flash. If your flash is going off for every single photo you take, that might be a sign to open up those blinds, turn on some lights and try again. I’m not a huge fan of flash, even for my candid shots of Wyatt, so I do what I can to avoid having to use it.

Lastly, enjoy the moment and have fun. It’s all about creating memories with your kids and capturing them on camera. So what if you didn’t use the rule of thirds or so what if your kid’s clothes don’t match, its about looking back on a memory and enjoying the time you have with your kids.

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They grow up so fast, I can honestly say that and Wyatt is only nine-months. I’m going to turn around and he’ll be in kindergarten. Will it really matter if my photo of him learning to walk isn’t technically correct? Will it really matter if my photo of him learning to ride a bike isn’t exactly composed right? No, because its about content over quality. That’s not an excuse to not learn your camera, but it gets you off the hook for now.

What are some of your tips for getting better pictures of your kids?