They don't call it the magic hour for nothing. It is truly gorgeous and makes for beautiful soft lighting and golden tones in your photos. This is the only time I will shoot; and when you start to shoot at golden hour and see the difference in your photos, you will too! This time works well for kids too because it doesn't interfere with nap time.
Golden hour is one hour prior to sunset or one hour after sunrise.
* Know your location to ensure the perfect spots to get that beautiful sun flare in your photos.
* Be sure to plan for drive time, you don't want to miss the short window
* Be aware of the location of the sunset and sunrise, whether the location is facing the East or West.
* Stick around and see the gorgeous colors of the sunset which also makes for interesting beautiful photos.
Skip the "cheese"
The temptation is to always stop your kids and pose them for pictures, but you will have better more memorable pictures if you shoot candidly.
Try to back up and watch; let them do their thing and be ready to click when the time is right.
* Posing them or disturbing them will cause more stiff pictures and forced smiles that don't always look the best.
I don't know how many times my kids looked at me with pure annoyance and to be honest those close up pictures are my absolute favorite!
My daughter for example rarely looks at the camera and smiles but that's ok with me. Her photos show her true personality (one tough cookie) and the ones that are all smiles come from a pure fun place and makes them that much more special.
* Raw emotion tells a story
* Sit focused on your child for a while until you get the shot you are looking for or until they make eye contact. Great pictures take patience and time!
Fast shutter speed
To get sharp images and freeze motion you need to up your shutter speed. Be sure your speed is above 1/200. Anything below that and your pictures may very well turn out blurry and that perfect capture might be ruined.
* If you don't shoot in manual put your camera on "sports" mode.
* Shooting in manual gives you a lot more control of how you want your photos to turn out. Whether that's bright and airy or dark and moody.
Here's a cheat sheet for manual mode:
* Get at your child's eye level
* Back away to capture the scenery
* Get up close and personal
* Use trees, bridges, rocks, ect. to frame your shot, giving it a more unique look.
* Find leading lines; like a bridge, road or boardwalks.
* Don't center your child in every photo. Put them in the corner if there is an interesting piece of nature in the frame.
* Experiment and have fun!
Keep your camera on, in hand, lens off and at the right settings. You want to be able to catch that rare brief brother sister hug. We all know these moments don't last long and children tend to move on quickly.
So always have your camera ready to shoot and keep shooting for that perfect capture.
You might end up with a ton of the same photos but it triples your odds of having a few great ones.
* Click, click, click!
* Shoot in continuous mode
Don't use flash
The flash is distracting to anyone especially kids and you don't want to disturb what they are doing.
* The flash might be to bright for a baby and could cause them to cry
* Flash might make the children stop what they are doing and turn to you
* The flash is unflattering in pictures and causes harsh light
* If you need to use a flash, use an external flash with a soft box
* Get a camera good for low light situations
Meltdowns happen and there's no need to stress when they do. Bring something that will cheer your child up in case this happens to you.; a favorite stuffed animal, toy, bubbles or a snack.
Bubbles always make for fun photos. Pro tip: get a bubble machine so you can step back and capture all those fun moments and bubbles.
* Bring a backpack with some supplies
* First aid kit; sometimes there are falls and that could really make your kiddo upset. A band-aid and kiss usually makes it all better.
* Lots of snacks!!! If your kids are like mine, you will be asked for a snack every 10 minutes and if you don't have any there is a strong possibility your child will have a meltdown.
Most important don't forget to have fun! Play and engage with your child. If they seeing you have fun, they will have fun.
* Don't go into the shoot or adventure with ideas already in your head; let the moments come to you and capture them.
* If you have a specific vision but are missing something; get into Photoshop, make a composition and watch your vision come to life.
* Dress your child for the occasion; whether that's to ensure warmth, a flowy dress perfect for twirling or colors. Every little detail makes a difference.
Want to see more outdoor adventure photos?
Visit my IG where I share those candid outdoor photos