Seven tips for capturing engaging video with kids

Kids are going back to school and another year of memories are waiting to be captured. Parents always remember to take the required “first day of school” photo, but often don’t think about recording video memories. This quick guide will help you get the best video clips of your child.

Be steady

First, nobody enjoys watching shaky video. Some cameras and phones have built in stabilizer functions that can help keep a steady shot. You should take advantage of them, but remember to turn them off if you want to perform camera moves, as the stabilizer will sometimes cause jumpiness in your clip.

There is also a variety of gear to help you stay steady. Simple and inexpensive two-handed grips are available to hold your smartphone. Small flexible tripods allow you to go hands-free. If you’re planning on shooting more often with your phone, motorized gimbals start at around $100. For cameras, a simple monopod can often do the trick, but other forms of stabilization are available for more serious users.

Horizontal or vertical?

Know what you are recording for. If you plan on sharing video clips with your family on a computer or TV, shoot horizontally on your phone. However, if your child wants you to record them for TikTok, shoot vertically. Learn the ways your social media channel of choice presents videos so you can properly shoot for you desired channel or need.

Horizontal video is recommended, unless you have a specific reason or social platform need.

Always keep recording

With storage on today’s cameras and smartphones, there’s no need to be stingy. Kids are often unpredictable, and it would be a shame to stop recording before something spontaneous occurs. Cutting recorded clips down to size is easily done in software or even on your phone’s editor, so keep rolling!

Get in position

Don’t be afraid to position your body to get the best shot of your child. You don’t always need to shoot down upon them … get on their level. Move around to frame your shot in a more artistic manner or get a different background angle.

Get close

If your camera or phone has optical zoom, use it. Digital zoom is basically using less pixels and magnifying or interpolating pixels to make up for it, so it causes a fuzzier image.

If you don’t have a good optical zoom, you can always zoom the old-fashioned way … by getting closer. As you change your distance from the subject, your focal point changes. This is where autofocus settings can help.

Get close, but watch out for potential lighting issues.

Proper lighting

When it comes to video, lighting is important. The more light, the better (within reason), as it helps avoid grainy and dark video. Avoid backlighting, such as when your child is in front of a bright source like a window in the midday sun. When outside, remember that a midday sun can create a lot of unwanted shadows and you may want to shoot in the shade.

Don’t forget about audio

It’s easy to concentrate on getting the shot, but audio is an important part of video. When looking back upon these clips, the audio will help stir up memories of these captured moments just as much, if not more, as the video.

Your default phone or camera mic may be OK to capture audio if your child is close and there isn’t much surrounding noise, but inexpensive mics are available to plug into your camera or phone and obtain crisper audio.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then perhaps video of your child is worth more. Enjoy capturing the memories!