Capturing photos of your kids is easy. We all have thousands of photos of our kids stored on our phones. But are you capturing photos that make you want to print and display them in your home? Do you want to step your Instagram game up a notch and take consistent photos for a cohesive feed? I’m going to share some of my tips for taking and editing Instagram-worthy photos of your kids, family — and anything else you want to share.
6 things to consider before taking the photo
Lighting — What time of day are you taking photos? How much natural light do you have to work with? Lighting makes a big difference in the quality of your photo. Try to use natural light over artificial light when possible. If you’re in a dimly lit space, use window light to light your subject. If you’re outside in midday sun, look for open shade and natural reflectors like sidewalks to reflect light back onto your subject. This will help you avoid raccoon eyes that make your kids squint and will provide a nice evenly lit photo.
Pro tip: Try converting photos with bad light into black and white and adjusting the exposure and contrast. I do this often and it still looks like a great photo.
Non-busy backgrounds — Remove distracting elements from a photo that don’t provide context or add to the story your photo is telling. Look for backgrounds that are clean and simple so that the focus is drawn to your subject. If you’re outside, be cautious of trees and light poles growing out of people’s heads.
Convey a feeling — Wait for the moment. While I love the traditional posed, smiling photos, I love the in-action shots just as much. So before you click, tell your kids to do something. Give them a task and wait for the moment. Wait for the smile after they take a big lick of ice cream and get it all over their face. Wait for the moment after you tell them to give hugs and kisses. Wait for the moment that they jump into a puddle of water. Let them be kids! Then after you’ve put them to bed for the night, scroll through your photos and bring back all the feels.
Context but not faces — Try taking photos of your kids but don’t include their faces, or have them not looking at the camera. Maybe it’s a tiny hand stealing food off of your plate or tiny hands putting a puzzle together. Or maybe a shot of your kids running by, but only from the waist down. Try a silhouette. Get creative.
Respect their privacy — I’ve been thinking a lot about this one. It’s so easy these days to want to document and capture every single moment possible. Kids growing up now won’t have to guess what their childhood was like or fill in the gaps by recalling memories. They’ll have an overwhelming amount of visual documentation of what happened daily as a child. I think it’s fine to document, but stop and think it through before you share it anywhere (including text messages). Once it’s out there, it’s out there, and you never know where it may end up! Personally, my husband and I agreed not to share photos of our daughter on the potty.
Refrain from oversharing — Along with respecting your child’s privacy, refrain from oversharing. Choose one great photo to share instead of 8 “just-for-me” photos. Edit your options down and choose one or two. We don’t want or need to see six of very similar photos — just pick the best one! By curating what you share, it’s more likely that someone might stop scrolling to see your photo or leave a comment and engage with you, instead of your photos joining the noise.
Now that you’ve taken the photo, let’s talk about how to edit them.
Apps I use to edit photos
- Filmborn — This is the app I use to edit all of my IG photos as well as my professional work (created by Kirk Mastin of Mastin Labs). I love the film look (my entire wedding was shot on film!) and the timeless, clean, and classic feel of my images after editing with these presets. I typically apply a preset, adjust the exposure, white balance, and contrast just slightly, and boom — all done.
- A Color Story — This is another great editing app with a wealth of tools that give you greater control over your editing (hello curves!). The app also has tons of filters and fun stuff you can add to photos if you wish, but I choose to keep it clean and simple. I typically use A Color Story when I need to brighten a photo but don’t want to tweak exposure even more.
- VSCO — This is the app I used before Filmborn made its debut. I typically use filters in VSCO at 50%, just enough to make photos pop but not to make it look like filter-overload.
Where to print photos
Now that you’ve taken beautiful photos, let’s get them printed, shall we? Our screens can’t be the only ones that enjoy what you’ve captured. Here’s a list of IG-friendly sites and companies that make it super easy to print your photos. I have personally used and loved all of these except Framafoto. I have yet to try them, but maybe someday soon.
- Chatbooks — we make vacation books and annual Father’s Day books
- Inkdot — my favorite are the square prints
- Artifact Uprising — I love the calendar
- Framebridge — Grabbed a Valentine’s Day heart-shaped mat frame
- Framafoto — can order/print all from the mobile app
Finally, don’t forget to get in the photo. Our kids need pictures of their parents, too, so whatever is preventing you from being in a photo, get over it and hop in. Even if it’s after you take the IG-worthy one, grab one for your personal archives so they can remember that you were there, too. A smartphone tripod is helpful in these instances. Or, ask a stranger to snap one for you.