Kristin Potenti Photography


Photographer based in South Florida specializing in Travel, Portraits, Event & Commercial Photography

Tips Tuesday | Two of the Most Important Camera Settings When Photographing Children

I photograph a lot of children. I love photographing them because if you get through to them you can easily capture genuine expressions. I find it's much harder to get adults to relax so it's more difficult to capture the natural expressions that I love. In my experience with children all you have to do is talk to them a bit and they loosen right up. Getting children to relax for photos

Besides connecting with children there is the technical aspect of knowing how to use the camera in order to capture great photographs. The two most important technical factors to me are shutter speed and aperture. The shutter speed is often labeled as S on the camera dial. For photographing kids you want to make sure the setting is on at least 250. This will ensure your kids movements will be frozen in time, in focus and not a blur. I was able to capture the little girl below who was running and even captured her winking at me! The shutter speed was 250.

Changing shutter speed to capture children in motion

Aperture is how wide open the aperture mechanism is in your camera lens and this controls how in focus or out of focus the image background is. The aperture setting range depends on the type of camera lens you use. My first dslr came with a lens whose aperture ranged from 3.5-5.6. This range is fine for tack sharp photos but if you're looking for that beautiful blurred background you see in a lot of portraits it's not going to happen with that lens. My favorite lens for portraits is a 50mm 1.4 lens. The 1.4 is the aperture setting. The lower the number of the aperture setting the more blurred the background will be. You can also achieve a more blurred background with a telephoto lens (100mm and over) by standing far back from you subject and zooming in. The image below was taken with a 50mm lens at aperture 2.2.

Blurred Background Sample Image

Don't get all upset because you take most of your pictures with your iphone or point and shoot and you think you can't possibly change these settings or get decent pictures. There are many accessories (including camera lenses) and apps for the iphone that will help you create amazing images. With a point and shoot camera, half the battle is taking charge of the settings. Don't be afraid to change the settings to A (aperture), S (shutter speed) or even M (manual). Your pictures will turn out much better if you tell the camera what you want to do instead of letting it guess (which is what it does in auto). If you have any questions I'm happy to help so please comment or email me at

Best, Kristin