Meet Danielle Chassin, the woman behind the @hippieindisguise Instagram account: self-taught hobby iPhone photographer, adventure-seeker and mama to the beautiful Ro and Sen. We were recently acquainted with her through her Instagram feed and were instantly attracted to the gorgeous candid photographs she posts of her children in unique settings (99% of them taken within walking distance from her downtown Ottawa home!).
This week, we were lucky enough to have Danielle share some tips on capturing great photos of children…
Capturing great photos is about actively looking around you, learning to spot beauty in the everyday. I don’t travel great distances to perfect locations, I make the most of what’s around me. Capturing great photos of children is about ensuring children are happy and comfortable around the camera; this will let you take candid or natural-looking photos, with a range of facial expressions. Here are some of my tips for capturing great photos of children.
- Look for beautiful features in natural and city landscapes, such as a flowering bush, or in infrastructure, such as murals. In wide landscapes you can get bright colourful backgrounds, like grass, gardens, and trees; their natural beauty will only enhance your photos. With natural beauty surrounding the children, your photos will look much more compelling. In the city, you can find beautiful and simple back drops, such as a brick wall or a mural on the side of a store. If you take adventures on foot in your city, you will find that lots of alleys and buildings have murals, stone work and other interesting features.
- Walk around your city, actively look at your surroundings, explore new streets, parks, fields and alleys. You will start to notice all kinds of beautiful backdrops for your photos, like a building with ivy growing on it, a bed of flowers in front of a government building, fruit and vegetable stalls at the market, or an old stone wall.
- Try to isolate a dominant or single aspect of the landscape to be the background. If you are at a park with treed areas, a play structure, and fences, this makes for a busy background that may draw attention away from the children, who should be the focus of your photo. Choose a simple background, for example, have the child lay back on the grass, this way the simple background of green texture, will allow the eye to focus on the subject of the photo. This tends to be particularly important when shooting with a basic camera like a phone, since you cannot adjust the depth of field and blur out busy background features.
- Remember that good framing can make an ordinary setting interesting. In parks there are often fences in the background; I like to make sure these aren’t in frame, as they distract from the natural landscape. Try a close up shot that cuts out the fence or ask the children to stand in front of a tree trunk or bush. However, if you can’t find an interesting angle that cuts out the fence, then use the fence to your advantage: make it the dominant aspect of your background by asking the children to stand in front of it. Being in a new setting, like a new alley that the children haven’t been in, will probably make them curious, they will be interested in their surroundings and will likely be less aware of the camera. They will interact with the space, and this will give you nice natural photos.
- Try different angles. A photo can draw a lot of interest by taking an extreme angle on the subjects. This means taking the photo from high above the subjects and aiming the camera down or a much lower angle and aiming the camera up. Try to experiment with angles; most people shoot straight on, this can make a beautiful photo, but it might not be unique or interesting.
- Take photos from behind and from the side, especially if the children don’t want their photo taken. This is a way to get a photo without their facial expression affecting the quality of the image.
- Adjusting the cropping your photos after can make them more interesting, or eliminate flaws, such as unflattering facial expressions or blur. With most people taking digital photos, this is easy to do.
- Don’t let the children know you are taking photos and/or Don’t ask the children to look at the camera. This is my number one tip. When children are asked to look at the camera and smile, or they know a photo is being taken, they often become too self-aware, they over-smile, or make a stiff pose. These photos don’t often look very good. I always take a set of photos with the children looking around, doing whatever they want, and then a final few frames with them looking at the camera. I call their name to get their attention, and they look toward me, with a natural expression.
- Take lots of photos. You will are more likely to get something beautiful or interesting this way.
Danielle works by day as a Government Advisor. Her passions are her children, adventuring, writing and photography. You can see more of Danielle’s photography by following her on Instagram or VSCO, or on her soon to be launched website.