Looking for 4th of July Photo Tips that are easy to follow? Keep on reading!
I’m obsessed with all things 4th of July. I love everything red, white and blue, fireworks, watermelon, popsicles, and BBQs. Each year I get the kids dressed up, grab a few flags and have some fun while making beautiful portraits of them.
Capturing kids can feel chaotic and overwhelming when you are trying to go for that “perfect” shot. But it doesn’t have to feel that way. As a Seattle family photographer and mother of six, I have plenty of tips and tricks for photographing kids in a beautiful, authentic, and fun way.
My first 4th of July Photo tip is to take your photos early.
With all the festivities of 4th of July, it can feel stressful trying to take them on the actual day. Planning ahead will not only allow you to focus on the photo shoot itself, but also allow you to have the photos ready to share on the 4th of July!
Next, select a location and watch your light.
What do you want as the backdrop for your photos? You can keep it simple and step out onto your front porch. Maybe you love open fields like I do, or even a spot along the river. These are all great ideas and will make great locations.
Most importantly on this 4th of July photo tip is light. I suggest going either early morning or late evening to have the sun lower in the sky. If those times aren’t ideal then you will want to select a location that is in the shade. If the sun is high in the sky you’ll have squinty kids, overly bright spots in your image, and super dark shadows.
The next 4th of July photo tip is to set your camera to continuous shooting mode.
If you’ve been following along on any of the other photo tip blog posts, you’ll probably recognize this tip. And if you’ve already set your camera to continuous shooting mode once, you’re all set!
Continuous shooting mode is like burst mode on a smart phone. It means when you press the shutter to take the photo your camera can take several shots at once. It is perfect for catching busy kids, fast toddlers, or waving flags!
Then, turn your camera’s settings dial to Aperture Priority.
If you’re not comfortable shooting in manual mode, Aperture Priority mode is a great way to get that blurry background we all love. (That blur is called bokeh, but you don’t have to know that to take beautiful photos!)
Once on Aperture Priority (this is the “Av” on a Canon, or “A” on Nikon and Sony), set your aperture to F/2.2-F/2.5 (or as low as it can go).
Another 4th of July photo tip is to have your kids stand in a line.
When my kids are all lined up, I can ensure they are all in focus and I can see them. Tell your kids to pretend they are on an imaginary line on the ground, or to pretend that they are standing right behind a window waving to me.
Now, give them American flags and let them wave them wildly.
It’s a good thing we set your camera to continuous shooting mode, because things are probably about to get silly. And that’s wonderful! I let the kids wave their flags back and forth, up and down. Let them show off their personality (while encouraging them to stay on the line).
If I want one of them a little more “synced” I will prompt them with something fun like “Okay, on the count of three we are going to yell, ‘Happy Birthday America!”’ Or I may have them yell, “Happy 4th of July!”
Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you have them yell, the practice of yelling and mom allowing it usually gets kids pretty excited.
Finally, make it a fun adventure for your kids.
Anytime I am photographing my kids where I’m making them perform a little bit, I make it fun. First, by letting them yell, be silly, wiggle and such during the photos. I keep the time I’m actually photographing them super short (5-10 minutes max), and then we do something fun at our location.
We may play tag in the field, or have a popsicles I brought in a cooler, or even playing with toy boats and tossing rocks into the river (we’ve done all of these things in the years past).
The point is that by keeping it fun, everyone will have a good experience and be up for a little photo adventure the next time you ask.
Bonus 4th of July Photo Tip: Get a parent in the frame with baby.
If you have a baby, jumping wildly or even sitting up can be challenging. So embrace it and jump in the frame (or ask dad to). If baby can hold a little flag, wonderful! If not, wave a flag near them and watch their eyes light up. Or just play with them.
The point is that just because your baby is too young to stand and wave a flag does not mean that you can’t make beautiful portraits.
One final 4th of July photo tip: Special red, white, and blue treats make great photos and happy kids too.
Don’t have any flags or need a little extra motivation for the kids? Special treats always work wonders, keeps their attention longer, and are fun to capture.
One year a grandparent gave us these lollipops and the kids were so excited to throw on matching outfits while they licked away!
Now you’re ready to give it a try for yourself. Grab your red, white and blue (a couple of my favorites places to find great outfits for kids for the 4th of July are Hanna Anderson and Alice and Ames).
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