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Photo Tip – Capturing children on the go!

Fun Child Portraits in St. Louis taken by Yvonne Niemann Photography

I get a lot of questions on how to improve family candid images and I try to answer them through my monthly e-newsletter and here on the blog. I think it’s important to capture those everyday moments to document our families – not only for us parents, but also for our children and the generations to come, which is why I like to help people make their candids that much better. This past month I received the following question from Kelly P.

“…I have recently begun branching out and trying to learn to use my camera’s manual setting. My main objects are usually my kids! What I’m having trouble with is, trying to adjust the ISO, Aperture and shutter quickly before the moment has passed. I literally look up from my camera and they have gone! Is there a trick I am missing? Some fast way of adjusting settings in manual to capture quick moments with kids?…”

Thank you Kelly for your question. Manual settings can be a bit hard if you’re accustomed to the automatic modes on your camera. I only shoot in manual and I also deal with a lot of fast moving kiddos, so I know I can give you some advice on this subject. (the images above are some images of my daughter, Lily, running around) What I do is figure out what my ISO should be first. Remember back in film days? You had to buy film and you chose the type of film for the type of setting you would be shooting in. The most popular film was ISO 400, which gave you a wide range of sun conditions from sunny to cloudy days to even indoor situations. ISO 100-200 film is for super bright sunny days and 800-3200 film is for dark conditions (or sometimes just for a grainy look/feel in your B&W images). Well, digital ISO is pretty much the same. So, pick your ISO for the type of lighting conditions you’re in and then choose an aperture. I’m not sure what lens you have, but the smaller the f/stop number, the shallower the depth of field you’ll have. I tend to shoot a bit wide open (large aperture, low f/stop number). I just love how you get separation from your subject and your background this way. This can be tricky though too, as the area that will be in focus may be very small, so you have to make sure that you’re nailing your focus on your intended subject. To be on the safe side, go with f/5.6 – or even higher. Remember, the higher the f/stop number, the more of your scene will be in focus, which is great for moving targets! Now that you have your ISO and Aperture set, leave them there and all you have to worry about is moving your shutter speed dial. Much faster than trying to adjust all three on the go. Just remember, if you have a fast moving child, you want your shutter speed to be 1/125 or faster or you’ll get motion blur. I prefer 1/250 for running children. If you find that your shutter speed is going lower than 1/125, then adjust to a higher ISO. The other piece of advice that I can give you to make things even easier, is try to find a spot that has pretty consistent light, so your lil’ one isn’t running from shade, into sun, back into shade, back to bright sun, etc…. I know, easier said that done, but IF you can find such an area, you’ll be in heaven as once you set up your camera settings, you won’t have to make any adjustments and you can just shoot away! Hope this helps! Let me know if you need anything else. Happy to help.


Athens, Georgia |