The playground. You probably go there most days in warmer weather. It’s often full of other kids, and unless you’re lucky enough to live near a park in a stunning location or with a super cute Instagramable wall, playgrounds are not exactly swoon worthy locations. You probably think this make the park a rubbish location for getting great images for your blog, but I think there’s a lot of potential at the park. Think of the benefits of the park; you are there often so it’s a great place to get photos even if you don’t have anything special planned, and it’s somewhere your kids love, so you don’t have to bribe them to get some photos. Here are some photos ideas for getting some blog worthy images from an everyday location.
Frame your subject
Park equipment is great for framing your subjects. Play peekaboo with Windows in the equipment for natural expressions and colourful framing.
Canon 5d mkii Canon EF 50mm F3.2 1/400 ISO400
Parent bloggers often tell me that the reason they struggle to take great photos of their children is because they don’t stay still. Capturing busy children is tricky, but you can use the playground equipment to make it easier. They may be moving – but at least you know where they will end up. You can prepare for them coming down the slide, or for the swing moving towards you. Because of this, the park is a great place to practice photographing fast moving subjects.
To capture images of moving subjects, set your camera to continuous shooting mode. Keep your finger on the shutter button as your child comes down the slide or swings on the swing. Sure, you’ll get a lots of not-so-great images, but you’ll be more likely to get a great image too.
Canon 5d mkii Sigma Art 35mm F5.6 1/400 ISO800
In this image her face is blurry. The SOOC image was overexposed so I could have upped my shutter speed to freeze the movement.
Look For New Angles
Every time we go to the park I know I’m going to see a parent photograph their child in the swing. They stand directly in front of the child, take out the camera , and shoot. Some people crouch down a little to get on the child’s level, but mostly the image will be the same image as everyone else is taking. Move your feet to get engaging images.
Canon 5d mkii Canon EF 50mm F2.4 1/500 ISO100
In this image I climbed under the slide to get a shot of her from below. This vantage point allowed me to avoid capturing other people in the busy park, and gives the impression that she is climbing into the sky. This is exactly the look I was going for. It was her first time climbing the net on her own, and the feeling of height, plus the look of determination on her face, helps tell this story.
Create Images full of Joy
Remember the pure, hedonistic joy of going to the park when you were a kid. How fast the swings flew through the sky, how high off the ground you felt on the climbing frame. Capture those big emotions. Wide, toothy grins, no sign of the dreaded camera smile. Don’t worry if your child is not looking at the camera, that’s not the point here. The point is capturing that pure, unbridled joy of childhood. The best way to capture these sorts of images is to let your child play freely. Follow them around without interrupting their play, and the smiles will come naturally.
Canon 1100D and kit lens 1/400 sec. f/3.5 18 mm
In this picture you can barely see her face, but you can still see her smiling. This, combined with the swing coming towards the camera and the bright colours create an image full of joy.
Get Some Help
Depending on the age of your child, it’s easier to get these images when they’re another grown up with you. That way you can focus on finding the best angle for the image.
Canon 5d mkii Canon EF 50mm 1/1000 sec. f/2.5
You don’t necessarily need another grown up to get great images in the park, but in this case I couldn’t have pushed her high enough and had enough time to take the photo on my own. My husband pushed her whilst I found an angle that would avoid the crowds.
If you are bored of taking the photos in the same park, mix it up a bit with silhouettes. Action shots and park equipment look great in silhouette. This look is best achieved when the sun is lower in the sky, so Autumn and Spring are great times to do this, when sunset is not too late for small children. Place your subject between you and the sun. Then expose for the sky, so your subject is in darkness. Your subject doesn’t have to be complete in darkness for this look to work, rim lighting, where there is a sliver of light on the edge of your subject from the sun behind, looks great in silhouette.
Canon 5d mkii Canon EF 50mm 1/250 sec. f/3.2 Because your child and anything they are near will be very dark, shapes merge together easily in a silhouette photo. For this reason, action shots look great. Climbing, jumping etc. If you find the lower half of your child disappears into the floor when taking a silhouette photo, get down lower and shoot upwards.