Ever paid for a professional to take photos of your kids? Perhaps a newborn photo shoot, or a few headshots for your holiday cards? (yep, we’ll even count those ones from Sears). Well, we’re here to put an end to that mamas, because we’re about to turn you into a fancy pants photographer with just a few, easy-to-understand steps. So grab your cameras and let’s get started!
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See the beautiful blurry background in the photo above? You want it, right?
It makes the subject (in this case your adorable child) super crisp and pop right off the page, while turning any clutter in the background into a soft buttery blur. It turns your so-so amateur-looking photo into a yaw-dropping professional wonder. It turns your disaster zone of a house into a gorgeous watercolor backdrop. And, it turns all your friends into total groupies (prepare yourself – they will ask you to take photos of their kids…which you’ll happily oblige now you’re a rock star photographer!).
We’re telling you, it is the secret ingredient to amazing photos of your kids.
But let’s cut to the chase, how the heck do you get that blurry background?
It’s all about 4 easy steps which we’ll explain without any fancy-schmancy photography term dropping. Seriously. You won’t find an aperture, depth of field or focal length anywhere here. Just simple terms we can all understand. Phew.
Note: While these steps work best with a DSLR camera like our favs the Canon EOS Rebel T6, Canon EOS 70D, or the Nikon D7100, if you only have a point-and-shoot camera, you can still utilize most of these tips to significantly improve your pics!
And pssst – we have a special bonus for you at the end that will teach you how to get a blurry background AFTER you’ve taken a photo! Don’t miss it!
4 STEPS TO BLURRED BACKGROUND GLORY
STEP 1. PLACE YOUR CHILD AWAY FROM THE BACKGROUND
This seems kinda like a no-brainer, but if you consciously think about it next time you’re taking your photos, it’s something that can make a big difference. No matter what equipment you have, if your little one is leaning up against a wall, there is no chance you’re getting the buttery spread in the back. Just ain’t gonna happen. So do your best to position your child at least a few feet in front of the background. The further they are away from it, the more blur you will get (whether you’re shooting a DSLR or not).
STEP 2. TURN YOUR CAMERA OFF AUTO
We know this can be tough, but take a deep breath and turn your camera off of Automatic mode. Exhale. Now click the dial over to AV (Canon) or A (Nikon). If you don’t have these modes, try looking for a SCENE selector where you can choose “Portrait”. There, you did it!
STEP 3. LOWER YOUR F-STOP
Huh, the f-what?! Well, luckily for you my friends, you don’t really need to understand this term, you just need to know that this is the magic number. The lower your f-stop, the blurrier your background will be. So f/22 will result in both your subject and the background in-focus, whereas f/1.4 will give you that coveted blur you’ve been dreaming of.
See the pictures below, the one on the left was shot at f/18 and the one on the right at f/1.4. The difference is mind-blowing!
Now the type of lens you have will ultimately determine how low your f-stop can go. The kit lens that comes with most DSLRs usually bottoms out around f/5.6, which can still offer you some good blur if you follow the other tips (positioning your child far away from the background, and the camera close to your child). However, if you want an even better effect like the one you see in the photos here, we suggest upgrading your lens (we’ve recommended a few of our favorites below…one which is only $125, score!)
STEP 4. POSITION YOURSELF AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE TO YOUR CHILD OR ZOOM-IN
You want to get as close to your child with your camera as you can. The closer you are, the more blur you will get. However, if you have a zoom lens, this changes a little because you can be further away while zooming in…this will create even more blur. And we wants da blur!
TO RECAP ALL THIS BLUR-INDUCED FABULOUSITY
You want to turn your camera off Auto and onto AV or A mode. Then lower the f-stop. Position your child away from the background, and the camera close to them (or if you have a zoom lens, zoom-in as much as you can without sacrificing picture quality). And that’s it! Easy peasy right?!
In no time you’ll be getting gorgeous shots like these:
Can you believe there are people in the background of this picture?! Doesn’t even matter with your beautifully blurred background, your child is the star of every photo.
Ever wonder how to get those magical holiday lights in the background? You can easily get this affect with these tips!
The background seems to dance with color!
OUR RECOMMENDED GO-TO LENSES FOR ANY PARENT
As we mentioned earlier, you want that magical low f-stop number, but the only way to change how low you can go, is to invest in a quality lens. But if you’ve ever tried to research DSLR camera lenses, you’ll understand that it is totally overwhelming. There’s all these crazy mm numbers with fs and ISOs that will make your head spin.
But ‘cause we’re almost besties at this point, we’re here to help you out and have listed our go-to lenses for parents (a.k.a. for taking pictures of your kids. Because we’re certainly not taking pictures of each other anymore). Our recos come in a range of prices, so pick what you’re most comfortable with and get ready to take professional quality photos! Yeehaw!
50MM F/1.8 LENS
For under $200, a 50mm f/1.8 lens will give you that bokeh effect (that’s fancy for blurry background) you’re looking for without you dipping into junior’s college fund. Although this lens doesn’t allow you to zoom, it is the perfect length for taking those portraits of your kids, and results in super crisp professional-grade photos.
50MM F/1.4 LENS
Now, one step up from the 50mm f/1.8 is the lens that is on our camera right now, the 50mm f/1.4. For a little extra money, you’ll amp up the colors and background blur even further. If you like the look of the photos featured in this post, they were all taken with this Canon 50mm f/1.4. It is stellar.
24-70MM F/2.8 LENS
Now if you want a killer lens for getting that blurry background that you can also zoom with, then you’re starting to go into big bucks territory. But if you can swing it, the 24-70mm will take your photos to new levels. There’s no possible way you will be disappointed, the photos you will take with this lens will blow. you. away.
Look at it this way, your photos of your kids will serve as memories for the rest of your life (and theirs), and investing in a quality camera and lens will allow you to perfectly capture their moments that can never be recreated. And with one of these lenses (and the steps you learned here), we promise you will never, ever have to pay for a professional photo shoot of your kids again – over time, it literally pays for itself!
The one thing we can’t help with: getting your children to cooperate with your new-found photography skills.
Good luck mamas, and follow us on Instagram @whatmomslove and use hashtag #whatmomslove with any pics you’ve taken using our tips! We’d love to see them.
Bonus! Want to know how to create a blurry background in your photos after you’ve taken them?
We’ll send you a full step-by-step tutorial (with screen shots and examples) for 2 apps that you can use after you’ve snapped a pic. These are amazing apps that are simple to use and can make your regular iPhone photos have that buttery soft backdrop. (1 of them is even FREE…the other is just $0.99 so a teeny investment compared to a DSLR lens!)
You’ll also get access to our full library of exclusive resources including 10 Screen-Free Toys for Guaranteed Quiet Time, our Printable Birthday/Holiday Coupon Book and 35 Healthy Food Subs & Swaps For Family Meals. Sign-up below!
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