Those fleeting moments of childhood slip through our hands every day – but photography is one way to ensure they’re never forgotten. This incredible snapper has managed to make an art form out of capturing her kids in everyday moments – and now she’s revealed her top five tips for photographing children.
The stunning photos Elena Shumilova takes of her children, either playing in the Russian countryside, or at home, tend to send the internet into a spin. Because they are just so beautiful. The lighting, the stories, the beauty is undeniable.
Although Elena’s images of her children playing on snow-covered hills look utterly magical, there’s something just as endearing of the photos she takes of her children just playing at home. It’s all about capturing a moment, rather than mocking up a photo.
She’s put together a really handy list of tips, aimed at giving the best chance to take beautiful photos of your children.
1. Ensure your children are familiar with the camera. Elena recommends photographing them every day, so they get used to having their photos taken.
“To get the most genuine photos, I try to catch them in the moment — when they’re playing with each other and have completely forgotten about the camera.”
2. Choose simple clothing. Elena says the clothing the children are wearing shouldn’t be distracting.
“When I started pursuing photography seriously, I actually replaced all their outfits. This took quite a while to do, but now I know that anything I pull from their closet won’t interfere with the photo.”
3. Taking photos of children at different ages requires different techniques.
Elena says as the parent, we have the advantage, as you know your newborn better than anyone. You know the best time of day to capture calm photos.
“Let your parenting instinct help you choose the right moment.”
The Golden Age: between two and four years old
Elena thinks she’s pinpointed when children are at their most photogenic – between the ages of two and four.
“Kids around this age behave very naturally. They don’t care that someone is looking at them, they don’t care what others think, and they don’t care that a camera is pointed at them.”
Age five and over
Any parent will tell you that around this age, children’s self-awareness begins to increase, and this of course influences how they respond to their photo being taken.
“The key here is to be very patient. Let them play while you disappear into the background. My best photos always happen at the end of a photo shoot, when my kids have forgotten all about the camera.”
4. Getting good photos of children and their pets can be tricky. Just like children, some pets don’t like being photographed. Elena says there’s no magic trick to solve this issue. She says she’s spent many hours observing animals, to see how they move and what angles best suit them.
“I’ve also tried bribing pets with food, but it doesn’t work. It’s almost impossible to get a good picture when they’re chewing or licking their paws. So I’ve learned the hard way not to feed our pets during photo shoots.”
5. Elena’s final tip is not to give up. Her example is this stunning image above, which has been viewed online more than 10 million times.
“Before I took this photo, my confidence was at a pretty low point. I had tried for a photo of my son and dog 14 other times — not 14 other photos, but 14 full photo shoots, all failures. I was convinced that my hands were too clumsy, or my dog was not the right dog for it, or my kid was not the right kid for it. I was just feeling desperate that day and didn’t even want to bring my camera.”
Thankfully she did, and on that 15th day she managed to take the image that’s propelled her into internet stardom.
Do you love taking photos of your children? Do you have any tips for capturing amazing images of children? If you’re after more tips on taking top photos of your children, check out our guide to taking fabulous photos of babies and kids.