LilSugarSource: Shutterbug: 11 Tips For Photographing Siblings
Ever see a friend's photo of siblings hugging each other lovingly and think to yourself, "My kids never break from tearing each other's hair out long enough to smile for a picture." Yeah, me too. And that's where the answer to beautiful sibling photography resides. You don't need a picture of both tots smiling in order to convey the loving relationship between siblings. Rather, you need the right atmosphere to make their true personalities shine. Photographer and mom Jennifer Little, founder of Sugar Photography in Fort Collins, CO, recently shared some of her favorite pictures of brothers and sisters with us, and through those images, we've gleaned 11 tips to help fellow parents get better pictures of their kids together (without having to Photoshop a smiling face over a crying one).
- Capture Your Tots' Natural Interactions: Do your children sit quietly next to each other, smiling and hugging? Probably not, so why would they want to do that in an unnatural setting with a photo? You love your children for who they are and how they act (most of the time!), so that's how you want to capture them - curiously looking over the other's shoulder, playing tag, teasing each other, etc.
- Let Them Have Fun: The objective in most sibling photography is to get a shot that most adequately captures the kids' personalities. The best way to do so is to let them have fun. The natural smiles on their faces - even if they're not perfectly formed smiles - will communicate their personality when they are doing what they enjoy most.
- Look For Ways to Stabilize Them: Let young tots into the great outdoors, and you may be running around in circles trying to bring them back together again. So when photographing outside, try to pick a spot that has something they'll both gravitate to - stairs, a slide, a bench, a jungle gym, etc. - and encourage them both to hang out there. They might not be willing to spend an hour there, but they'll likely stay there together just long enough to get a few key shots - just be sure your camera's ready!
- Click Away: The best moments tend to be those that are not scripted, so it's best to just keep clicking away throughout your "session." Even if you can get your kids to pose together, the most precious moments can occur when the tots think you're not paying attention anymore - that's when you secretly get the "money shot"!
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- Yes, It's OK to Take a Few Posed Shots: Natural, photojournalistic-style photography has gained in popularity over the years, but grandmas still request the head-on, posed shot with the kids smiling for the camera. So go ahead and take a few - just realize that until the kids are beyond their toddler years, it won't be easy to achieve.
- Don't Be Afraid to Use Props: Ever notice how many props there tend to be at a photography studio? They're not just there to look cute in pictures but to help put the kids at ease. The same tactic can be used at home. If you don't want toys in your pictures, consider something bigger - like a piece of furniture - just be sure it doesn't take the focus away from your beautiful subjects!
- Both Kids Don't Have to Be Looking the Same Way: With younger tots, it's even harder to get both kids looking in the same direction, so wipe that "perfect" image out of your head. Just ensure you can see a good portion of both kids' faces and you can see just how happy they are, something the eyes tend to communicate.
- Capture Them Teaching Each Other: One of the joys of being an older sibling is teaching your younger sibling a thing or two (and not always the things mama wants you to share). Simultaneously, lil ones tend to hang on their older bother's every word. This connection - which some consider to be the definition of siblings - makes for a great photographic moment. They won't be looking at the camera and they won't be focused on the photographer, but rather they'll be focused on each other. And that's something mom will want to look back on in the future.
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- Photograph the Real Moments: Part of being siblings is teasing each other and having fun at the other child's expense. Just because someone's making a silly face or puts rabbit ears behind the other's head, doesn't mean it's time to put the camera down. Rather, it's time to start snapping away because those instances truly capture what it means to be siblings.
- Let Them Get Comfortable: Kids are often more comfortable with an object they can focus on - a toy, a chair, or even the ground - something that makes them feel less self-conscious about the camera focusing on them. If you don't have such an object around, don't fret - the ground can easily serve as that barrier between child and camera. Just tell them to get low (and you do the same) and see how quickly they warm up to your photo session idea.
- Play a Few Games: Simply telling tots to smile just isn't going to work in most cases, so playing a few games with them can help. Tell them to get moving - to spin, roll, etc. When the giggles ensue, ask them to hug or kiss. If an older child is willing to cooperate but a younger one isn't - enlist the older one as your assistant and ask her to whisper something funny to her sister. Sometimes having another child act as the intermediary is all it takes to get the lil one to warm up to the camera.
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Photos courtesy of Jennifer Little | Sugar Photography