Childhood pictures are a fantastic way to preserve family memories, and often become a treasured part of family life. Of course, it’s not always an easy process. As well as excellent timing, you’ll need a lot of patience and some basic photography skills to give your snaps a real lift.

There are no real rules in photography, but we have put together technical tips and examples of great photography to inspire you.

Robin Schwarz has been taking photographs of her daughter Amelia for more than 15 years now. In every picture she has been exploring Amelia's relationship with the world through animals and dreams.

Robin Schwarz has been taking photographs of her daughter Amelia for more than 15 years now. In every picture she has been exploring Amelia’s relationship with the world through animals and dreams.

– Choose your photography background

A basic rule of photography, and one of the first things you will learn on any photography course, is how to choose an appropriate background. For a child portrait, choose a clutter free background to make sure the main focus of the shot stays on the subject. As well as looking more professional, leaving a blank background gives your plenty of scope for carrying out some creative editing.

Photo by our tutor Ion Paciu

Photo by our tutor Ion Paciu

– Choose your shot

By choosing a low focal ratio (f number) – a high aperture for your photography, you will put subjects at one distance in focus. What this means in practice, is that the subject of your portrait will be in focus, whilst the background and foreground will fade in to an attractive blur.

Photo by our tutor Giulia Bianchi

Photo by our tutor Giulia Bianchi

Photo by our tutor Ion Paciu

Photo by our tutor Ion Paciu

– Tweaks and editing

Many photography workshops can teach you the basics of photo editing – a fantastic way of giving your photos a vibrant makeover. There are some basic tricks you can try on any child portrait though, which can quickly and easily make the photo stand out:

• High contrast – by ramping up the contrast, you give a vivid colour boost, highlighting the light, bright areas of the photo.

Jill Greenberg did a project that upset many in America. She took photographs of children after having removed a lollipop from them. Than she used photoshop to enhance their features.

Jill Greenberg did a project that upset many in America. She took photographs of children after having removed a lollipop from them. Than she used photoshop to enhance their features.

• Vintage postcard effect – add a sepia tinge, or change the gradient on photoshop to add this attractive finish. You may also like to add an image frame to this, to give a postcard effect.

Photos by Sally Mann, "At Twelve". Sally Mann has made a career as fine art documentary photography taking photos of children. What makes her photographs so special? The wonderful black and white, the details provided by the large format camera, the psychological complexity of her portraits, a special gaze at her own life in countryside Virginia. These photos bring us in a different world of innocence and memory.

Photos by Sally Mann, “At Twelve”. Sally Mann has made a career as fine art documentary photography taking photos of children. What makes her photographs so special?
The wonderful black and white, the details provided by the large format camera, the psychological complexity of her portraits, a special gaze at her own life in countryside Virginia. These photos bring us in a different world of innocence and memory.

• Black and white – a dreamlike black and white glow can give a stunning finish to any photo, add a black and white/mono filter to achieve the best effect.

Photo by Martin Parr. Martin Parr is famous for his irony in showing simple society behaviours. Remember: breaking the rules can create an interesting image.

Photo by Martin Parr. Martin Parr is famous for his irony in showing simple society behaviours. Remember: breaking the rules can create an interesting image.

(featured image: Portraits by Martin Schoeller)