Capturing Childhood - Taking Better Photos Of Your Kids Part 2

Following on from Part 1 the other day which you can see here, this post is all about composition and creating depth in images. Hopefully these tips will make your photos pop, and help to capture the essence of your kids and their little characters!


It's not the easiest thing to think about composition when your kids are racing around, but it does help your photos stand out. It's not always about positioning your subject in the middle of the frame looking right at you (although this can look great too), images can be wonderful with the subject positioned  to one side of the frame with lots of negative space.  

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You can have a quick Google at the rule of thirds if you're not familiar with this one. I wouldn't sweat over it, but it sometimes helps. Also, look for natural frames, a frame within a frame, we love looking for these.

Yorkshire Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography


One of the first things we say to folk when they ask for help with photographing kids, is to get down to the child’s level. I have what I call my photographer’s knee, all my jeans are slightly more worn on the right knee, as this is where I bend!

Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography

Or sometimes you’ll find me lying flat on the floor too. Try standing over your child too looking down. 

Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography


Sometimes images can look a bit flat, and don't quite turn out how we're seeing with our eye. One tip for this is to create some depth in your images, use lines like paths and trees to lead into your subject.  

Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography

You can also shoot through things too like grass and leaves, by having them in the foreground and your subject further away - this gives the image another dimension.

Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography

These tips are certainly not exhaustive, but we do hope they help in some way. In the next post we'll have a look at photographing details, movement, and finding your style.

And if you're interested in any of our training courses, please do let us know so we can put you on the mailing list. Our next retreat is Capturing Childhood on September 22nd & 23rd this year. Do you want to take better photographs of your little people? Are you just setting up your portrait photography business and want to take beautiful emotive shots that really make you feel? Our Capturing Childhood weekend offers a unique opportunity to learn new skills and techniques to create photos of those real moments that make your heart skip a beat. There's a link to more information about the retreat here.

As always, if you'd like to share any of your photos - we'd love to see them!

You Can't Please Everyone.


I often think back to an incident that happened quite a few years ago now. I had been asked by a wedding venue in the area to take photos for their new brochure. The shoot had gone well, and I was really pleased with the photos, so I went to the venue for a meeting to show the wedding coordinator my images. As I was waiting, one of the volunteers at the venue came up to me. He had seen the shoot unfold and was curious about my images. He asked if he could have a quick look at the photos before the coordinator arrived, so I took my laptop out of my bag and started to scroll through the images I'd taken. At first there was no response as I clicked through images of the couple, the details of the bride's dress, and the flowers. And then came a long 'Mmmmm', I knew it wasn't a satisfied retort, that long drawn out consonant was low in tone. 'Well you missed the focus on that' came the next line. The photo was one of the bride in the foreground and the groom in the background, I'd used a shallow depth of field to get this effect deliberately. 'Oh, you cut their heads off' came the next grumble, it was a photo of the couple holding hands, and I'd decided to focus on that. It carried on for a few more minutes, 'I wouldn't have taken it like that', 'why did you take it just of their shoes?'. It really knocked me for six. I started to feel really uncomfortable, my stomach churned, palms were a little sweaty, and then the coordinator walked in. Convinced I had absolutely missed the mark, I was really nervous showing her the photos. At the end of the viewing came the reassuring response 'these are exactly what we've been looking for'.

I know taste is such a personal thing, and I'm sure everyone has had similar experiences in their lives. In that moment I was really worried, but I am for ever grateful to this man at the venue. I've talked about this incident in our photography retreats as we chat about finding our voice as photographers. It's such a vivid moment for me still. I'm grateful to him as it absolutely made me realise that I couldn't please everyone with my images, and if I tried to do this, it would dilute any style I was trying to build. In that same week when I was showing the venue their photos, I was getting passport photos ready for a family and taking photos of some guttering for a couple who were having a dispute with their builder. I was trying to do so many things, to please everyone, and actually to the detriment of where and who I wanted to be.

I'm writing this now as I had an exchange at the weekend that took me right back to that nervy time of me showing the venue those wedding photos. We opened our doors for Hebden Bridge Open Studios. It was great to see so many new faces and to get a chance to talk about our work. Late on Sunday afternoon, just before we closed, a man walked in with a slightly quizzical look. He reminded me so much of the volunteer at the venue I actually felt my stomach lurch a little. He looked round in silence and then just stopped in front of one photo. 'This is my favourite'.


Out of all the frames on our wall, I was really surprised, and I had a word with myself for being judgmental. 'I love the feeling, the light, the memory it evokes, there's something almost ethereal about it'. I quickly scribbled his words down after our exchange. I've been wanting to push myself a little further to take more images like this. Like most photographers, artists, makers, I guess our work is always evolving, developing. I almost never want to feel too comfortable, there's always an itch to scratch. I guess if our heart is truly in our work, people will come on this journey with us as they can feel something too. I just know that taking photos like this really excites me, and I think back to myself in that wedding venue all those years ago and I want to be true to that voice.

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Capturing Childhood - Taking Better Photos Of Your Kids Part 1

Last year, we were asked by the lovely folk at Canopy & Stars to write a blog about how to take better photos of your kids. We wanted to expand on it this summer as many of you will be spending more time with your littles over the holidays. We thought we'd split it up into three bite size chapters for any budding photographers, or if you just want to capture your times together a little more!

Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire

Over the next posts, we'll look at things that will help make your photos pop. Hopefully some of these tips will help you take better photographs, whether you're using your phone or an SLR.


Let's talk about the technical stuff first. We don't want to clog this post up with too many things about the ins and outs of your camera, but it’s good to get chatting about it. If you do have a DSLR, we would absolutely encourage you to try shooting manually, if you haven’t done so already, and take that dial out of Auto. It feels so good to be in charge of your camera, rather than the other way around. There will be a lot of trial and error, some tuts and exasperated hair pulling moments, but it really is worth it in the end! I am pretty much a self taught photographer, and when I was learning, I just took my camera everywhere so I could try photography in all different situations. Family and friends may roll their eyes at you (or maybe that was just my lot!), as you ask them again to stop while you experiment with your settings, but just stick with it. If you don’t have a DSLR, you can still take amazing photographs. Many people are documenting their life with their phone photography, just take a look at Instagram, there are some wonderful accounts to follow. Whatever you are shooting with, we hope these few pointers will help you. 


Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire

WIDE SMILES, wind tangled hair, muddy fingers, sandy toes - for us, we love to capture the essence of childhood. We find that when kids are engaged in an activity & enjoying something they're doing, they forget about us and the camera and for us, that's when we capture the best shots. Photos that reflect character and personalities.

Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire

Photography is storytelling, documenting daily life. There doesn’t have to be a special occasion to get your camera out, maybe a trip to the market, your favourite walk, feeding the ducks, or those morning rituals!

Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire


If me and Suzi had a choice, we would probably choose to shoot in the golden hours permanently. Those times just after sunrise, or just before sunset. Of course it’s not always practical, but give it a try if you can, you will really see a difference. Sometimes we’ll battle with the harsh overhead sunlight that midday can bring. Living in the Pennies though, we do often come across those dull overcast days, and we don’t mind shooting in these at all.


If it's absolutely bucketing down, it’s probably not going to be too much fun for anyone, but try getting out just after the rain – the light can be lovely.

Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire


But if it is raining again - window light can provide lots of atmosphere in a shot. It's best to turn off interior lights.

Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire
Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire


In this digital age, it's easy to keep clicking away in the hope you're going to get a few decent shots, I definitely used to be like this. When you are manically clicking away, you can miss those beautiful moments though. So maybe try and slow it down a bit, and wait for those moments that give you the feels.

Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire
Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire

We hope you've found this first post helpful. In the next one (which we'll publish at the weekend), we'll have a look at composition, points of view and perspective.

If you'd like to take your photography further, we are running our second Capturing Childhood Retreat on Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd September here in Hebden Bridge. This could be for someone about to set up their own portrait photography business, or for people who would like to take better photos of their families and friends. We have just two places left for the weekend. If you'd like to find out more, and book your place, there's a link to the Capturing Childhood Retreat page here.

We hope you have a lovely week, and if you'd like to share any photos you take, we'd love to see them!


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