As I have progressed on my photography journey, certain things have become apparent to me. One of which is that I have often found objects and landscapes more intuitive to photograph. It took me a while to realise why this is - they allow me more time to make an infinite number of adjustments until I achieve the results I am looking for.
People, on the other hand, are a totally different ballgame! The way that light hits skin, and the different hues that skin can have ... colour casts from clothing, surroundings, reflections ... It's something that requires a lot of study, practice and training to feel like you're starting to get it right.
Talking about this with a friend recently has spurred me to put together a short list of tips for portrait photography - things to do/ try/ be mindful of regardless of the camera (or smartphone) that you're using and your level of experience.
So if your kids are happiest playing with their toys, building Lego, weaving loom bands, reading, climbing trees .. let them do something they enjoy and snap away. You'll capture a far more natural moment.
Bright, midday sunshine is very harsh and the light from indoor lights can be very unflattering too. Try positioning your subject close to a window and if there's bright sunshine streaming in cover the window with a white bedsheet. This will 'diffuse' the light, making it much softer and more flattering
This was taken on a very sunny day - a diffuser was held above the subject and a white board was in front of her to reflect light back towards her face
If you think of kids wearing brightly coloured clothing in a ball pit ... It would be very easy to 'lose' their bodies and for them to appear as disembodied heads! Much better to have bright, plain colours against a muted background, or pale, unpatterned clothes in a brightly coloured location.
By this I mean the forced, cheesy expression that can result from the off-camera wave, smile and calling out "Hey Bobby, smile for the camera!!". Either try to pose your subjects properly for the camera or let them 'ignore' the camera for a more relaxed, natural picture
If you photograph 'down' on someone you are 'belittling' them, whereas if you photograph 'up' on someone you are 'empowering' them. This is why photographs at the same level (or lower) for children tend to work far better than those taken from an adult's standing height.
For this, I was kneeling on the ground, the subject was slightly uphill from me and the church in the background higher still, adding a sense of depth and perspective.
I hope you find these hints helpful - I'd love to hear your thoughts and if you'd like me to write some more posts like this.