How to Take Self-Portraits with your Kids and Why it’s Important
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Motherhood is incredibly busy and we wear so many hats every single day. We tend to be tasked with the role of ‘Family Photographer’ among all of the other responsibilities we have. It’s easy to get so busy taking pictures of our husbands and kids that we don’t end up in many photos or self portraits ourselves.
Why You Should be Taking Self Portraits with Your Kids
It is so important for us as mamas to get in the frame. Our kids are going to want and need pictures of us someday. It’s important that our kids see that we were there too. They should have pictures that capture how we loved them and cared for them at each stage of their lives. It’s also important for them to see who we were and where they came from.
As moms and women, we need to see pictures of ourselves. Motherhood changes us. It changes our hearts, our minds, and definitely our bodies ? Motherhood isn’t always the most confidence-boosting time of our lives.
But it should be.
Mama, you are so beautiful. You have the best job in the entire world and you give every single piece of yourself to serve your family and your kids. You are strong and you are so, so loved. Your kids ADORE you. You deserve to have pictures that capture this love and adoration.
Don’t let lies, fear, or insecurities keep you hiding behind the camera.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised that the more often you get in FRONT of the camera, the more confident you’ll start to feel.
It may mean that you need to go put on a bra, slap on some mascara, and wear real pants – whatever- just get in the dang picture!
The Technical Stuff Really isn’t that Bad.
Don’t let fear of the technical side of self portraits get in the way. Taking self portraits is much easier than you probably think, especially with smartphone cameras!
Whether you use a DSLR camera or a smartphone, this post is for you. I use the same type of gear and techniques regardless of which camera I’m using. I explain how to use both below.
(I currently use an iPhone X for my phone photography)
Shutter remote – If you’re using your phone for self-portraits there are a few items that can be really helpful. My favorite thing is a shutter remote. For the longest time I didn’t even know they made remotes for phones, this is a great one and the best part is – it’s only $9!
In the past I used the built-in self timer on my phone to take self portraits, which you can totally do, but a shutter remote is much easier. It makes the whole process faster, which is really helpful when kids are involved.
My heart is for you to have images of your everyday that you take yourself, with whatever camera you have available to you, whether it’s an old iPhone or an entry level DSLR camera.
If you love taking pictures of your kids but don’t have this whole photography thing totally figured out – I created a free course just for you!
I set everything up before I ever bring my son onto the scene.
In my phone’s camera app, I still use the self-timer setting in conjunction with the shutter remote. This gives me time to click the button on my remote and hide it before the phone takes the photo.
Depending on your phone model, you can set the self-timer to take more than one photo which will increase your chances of getting a good shot (especially if you have a wiggly baby like me).
While I’m setting up, I usually give my son something to play with to keep him busy. I get the entire shot set up and ready to go – then I grab him.
My DSLR setup is exactly the same. I use my Canon 6D with my tripod and shutter remote.
How to set DSLR Focus:
Nailing focus for a self portrait can be tricky when using a DSLR and it may take some practice but I promise it get’s easier.
There are two simple ways you can get sharp focus with a DSLR:
You can let the camera auto focus by leaving your camera on the Auto Focus setting (this is a switch on your camera lens). After you click the shutter remote, the camera will take a few seconds to find focus and then it will snap the photo.
This is actually fairly accurate most of the time, but the camera may occasionally focus on something other than you. This is also the slower option because if your kiddo is wiggly it may take a long time for the camera to find focus.
You can set the focus manually by place an item in the frame where you are going to be sitting or standing. Focus your camera on said item (in the example below I stacked pillows on our office chair and focused on the top pillow).
At this point, you can turn your camera to Manual Focus
(this is a switch found on your lens) to prevent your camera from refocusing. Now remove the item and get back in the frame.
Every camera model is going to be different, but you need to set your camera to the shutter remote function. A quick google search should tell you how to do this for your specific camera model.
If you don’t have a remote, you can use the self-timer. This just means you’ll have to run back and forth every time you want to take a picture.
Getting sharp focus takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts result in blurry photos. You’ll get the hang of it quickly! And don’t discredit all of your blurry images. Some of my favorite images are one’s that have ‘imperfections’ in them. Sometimes an accidental blurry photo can actually end up being a really artistic image.
Take a few practice shots of yourself to make sure your focus is correct and all of your settings are good. Once everything is set – bring your kiddo into the frame with you.
How to interact with your kids during self portraits
I try to make it fun for my son and always have a toy nearby. By having everything set up before you bring your kiddo in, you can make it a really relaxed thing. Just grab one of their favorite toys or a book and play with them like you normally would while you discretely snap pictures.
For older kids, use the same concept and make it quick and laid back – try making a game out of it. In THIS post, I share how to get kids to cooperate during pictures, how to get natural images, and how to avoid frustrating them.
I’ve listed 5 ideas of things you can do with your kids during self portraits below.
5 Ideas for Self-portraits with your kids
1. Sit in your favorite chair and read books together.
2. Play on the floor with their favorite toy.
3. Dance in your kitchen.
4. Jump on the bed together.
5. Ask your kiddo to touch foreheads with you or give kisses!
Wanna go all in?
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Portraits of Us is a comprehensive online course that will walk you through every step of how to take pictures and equip you to take beautiful photos.