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7 Tips for Photographing Your Kids and Their Livestock

Disclaimer before I even start. I am not a professional photographer, this is purely a hobby I've invested a lot of time (and money) in so that I can capture lasting images that I love of my own children. There are countless reasons to take good pictures of your kids, they change so fast! We all spend so much family time in the barn often time important moments are forgotten. It might feel like everyday chores to you but this is how we've chosen to raise our children. The next time you head out take your camera with you and plan a little photo shoot so you can always remember these times, you will appreciate it someday!

Real Memories

Real Moments - Real life

If I hadn't taken the photos of the lamb on the left we wouldn't have had any really nice images. I am so thankful I have started this tradition of taking photos before fair every year just to ensure I have saved the memories with the "special ones". The photo on the right is about as real as they come. Two images before this one her lamb was eating her hair. I kept snapping while she fixed things and the result is a gorgeous and very sincere smile while she casually hugs her lamb.

Prepare in advance

Think about what you want to accomplish with your shoot. I always do a pre-fair shoot with my kids so we are prepared for thank you cards post sale. In addition to that they always have those photos of the animals they've nurtured all summer and then sold, I think of it as capturing special memories.

Also decide what you'd like the shoot to look like. Casual, dressy, trendy or just a basic stock show photos. Taking pictures can be so fun, make them even more special by planning exactly what you want to do! Have you ever thought about a themed shoot? How about that gorgeous field of blue bonnets? There are so many unique opportunities, take advantage of what you have right in front of you!

Light is the most important factor

You can't have a good picture without great light! Often times this is confused with blazing sunlight but once you've realized this results in squinting eyes and harsh shadows you will quickly try to find a better solution.  You will get much better results with indirect sunlight. This is a fancy way of saying find open shade. Place your subjects just inside the shade so they are still receiving the soft, glowing light that is so flattering.

Another option is the glorious "Golden Hour". That 30 minutes right before the sun goes down. The light is just amazing and so flattering! You can shoot into the sun for a back-lit image that has a wonderful hazey glow. When you do this make sure you are exposing for the skin. You may need to angle your child so the sun is more at their  side for a properly exposed photo.

Hello Gorgeous Haze

Lighting is everything

These photos aren't perfect but it will remain a favorite. The gorgeous light is just wonderful for a gallery display in my daughters room. I wouldn't use them to sell cattle but they document our life perfectly. Photos aren't just about showing the perfect moments, don't neglect the real moments to have photos that sing to you or your child's heart.

Choose your location wisely

Never over look the fact you need to keep both kids and livestock safe. Pay attention to the surroundings and never put anyone in a position to be injured. Once you've determined everyone is safe start considering the light you have to work with and how best to use it to your advantage. Do you have leading lines you can use to draw the viewer into the image? What's the best way to compose the shot and position the person your photographing?

Difficult Lighting

How I captured this image

Know your surroundings and how to use them to your advantage. In this photo the light is so flattering. Just off of my daughters left shoulder is a huge, open, overhead door at our fairgrounds. I positioned her just inside of it to produce a flattering, soft image. It took about 15 images in this series before I finally captured this one which I love.

practice patience

Shooting kids is never easy. Add to that an animal or two, no matter how broke they are, and you are bound to have a few trying minutes. There will be eyes closed, funny faces and frustrating moments. Don't loose your cool. Step back. Take a deep breath. And recompose yourself. When you are photographing your own kids you have nothing but time. Try something new and return to the shot you are trying to capture in a few minutes. You never know when that magical moment between your child and the animal will happen.

Showcase Their Bond

This is often when the magic happens. That perfect shot where the stars have aligned and your heart sings when you see the finished product. Often times the only way to capture these is by stepping back and giving your child space to just be with their animal. They have an amazing bond, no one else means as much to that animal as your child. Give them a little space however keep snapping, among those images there is sure to be something you just adore.

Memories & Connections

The bond that can't be broken

In these images we went to the midway at the fair and had many obstacles to work around like direct sunlight. I combated this by placing the sun to the right of the subject. I let things unfold and naturally and captured some really great photos where you can instantly see the connection this lamb had to his owner. Not to mention it was such a fun location!

Move around & just shoot a lot

Try new things. Approach it from a different angles (literally and figuratively). Get down on the ground, stand on something tall. You never know what is going to be the most flattering or create the image you have seared in your mind. There is always more than one way to capture the perfect image. The more new things you try the more unique your images will be.

A Fresh Perspective

A New Angle

This image has such a unique angle which showcases her expression while still keeping the true story of the shot front and center. Don't hesitate to try new things!

Listen to their ideas

This is one of the most important things to remember when you are working with kids. They might have a vision you never thought of. Take full advantage of their creativity and see if you can make their ideas happen. The photos will mean so much more to them if they actively participated in them. 


Perfection is Overrated

Candid moments are often the most real

This picture is a classic listen to what your child wants and produced one of our favorite images of all time. This was a candid image my daughter requested after she won county fair. She pulled together some of her closest friends as quickly as she could and I just stood back and shot. The result will forever remain one of our absolute favorites. The next image in the series everyone is looking at the camera and all smiles however this image remains the favorite. Pure emotion and happiness among the group!

Angie Sandy shares her love for life with her husband and three daughters. She was born and raised in northern Colorado, the same place they raise their girls. As a family they share a passion for all things livestock. They own a small herd of cows they are constantly trying to improve on.  They've also passed on this love to their kids who enjoy showing 4H lambs, steers and heifers. Aside from these great endeavors she love spending time with her girls, riding horses, growing her budding love of photography and relaxing with friends!