“How do I get sharp photos of my kids when they won’t.stop.moving?!”
That’s one of the single most asked questions we get about photographing kids in our community. And the good news is your camera can nail it, you just need to know how… and we got you!
Read on for our top tips then head out and start taking razor sharp photos of your non-stop-moving kids!
Shutter speed is the element of manual mode that freezes or captures motion, depending on the effect you’re after. The faster your subject moves, the faster the shutter speed you’ll need to freeze that motion.
It takes time and experience in manual mode to know intuitively what shutter speed to choose for a particular speed of motion. But until then, start with around 1/500, take a test shot and adjust if necessary. If it’s still blurry, increase your shutter speed to 1/640. Still blurry? Go to 1/800… and keep going in the same direction until the motion is sharp.
The following article explains it in more detail, including a shutter speed guide for common activities you might want to capture.
Related: Shutter Speed for Sharper Photos
Normally when you take a photo, you half depress the shutter, the camera grabs focus and locks, then you shoot. The problem with this method is your camera often locks focus on something other than your subject, putting your subject out of focus.
The good news is you can control this completely simply by switching your camera to manual focus point selection mode. This enables you to choose the focal point that the camera uses to focus, so then you can choose one that sits on your subject’s face, and get sharp focus exactly where you want it.
The following article explains exactly how to do it.
Related: Master your Focus
So assuming you read the article above… now you know how to toggle through your focus points to control where focus lands. Go you! It’s a total game changer isn’t it?!
But what about this scenario… you frame the shot, choose your focus point, lock focus… then your little one moves! Maybe they’re just a wriggler, or maybe they’re a runner… but either way, your subject has themself on a different focal plane to where you focused, and now they’re blurry!
In those situations you need the focus point you used to refocus if your subject moves… and that’s a thing!
It’s called focus tracking, and different cameras call it different things. For example Canon calls it AI Servo, Nikon calls it AF-C, so check your user guide to find out what it calls its focus tracking drive mode, and how to change it on your camera.
Then aim a focus point at your subject’s face, half depress to grab focus then push it down and hold it and just keep shooting. As your subject moves if your chosen focus point moves off their face, you will need to slightly adjust your framing to get it back.
Your camera might also offer different focus zones especially for this type of shooting, which enable you to use more than one focus point at a time and increase your chance at getting a sharp photo.
It can be a tricky technique to master and it does have a higher miss rate than normal shooting. So use it combined with burst mode and take a LOT of shots to give you more chance of getting a handful of sharp shots among them.
Now go forth and capture some action!
Let’s face it, toddlers and preschoolers are professional wrigglers! If you’re not confident using continuous focus mode (or you’re just over it and want some photos where they’re firmly in place for more than 2 seconds!)… you have a few options.
In the photo below, his mama gave him a camera, and what a gorgeous shot it makes!