(N.b. There is so much great info on this topic that you might want to skip directly to my more complete and free Guide on fixing blurry kid photos here.)
The number one question I get from moms about taking photos of their kids? “Why are they blurry? They always come out blurry!”
Yup, been there. We’ve all been there. My first photos of my kids, and there are plenty of them, are a veritable study in unintentional blur and fuzziness. I blame it partly on the new-mom hormones and general shock at suddenly having a tiny human to take care of 24/7, but I also blame it on not using some of the basic techniques and tricks for taking good photos.
And what sucks most is that you can’t fix a blurry picture – once it’s blurry, it’s blurry. There is no Photoshop magic bullet, no fancy algorithm to sharpen it or pull it back into focus. It’s blurry. End of story.
But here’s the good news. Way back then, I did some troubleshooting and learning, followed by practice, practice, practice, and I overcame the blurry photo problem. I want to share with you what I learned so you don’t have to comb the internet and piece together the info bit by bit the way I did.
So here’s what I learned:
The first step to fixing your blurry photos problem is understanding WHY your photos are turning out blurry in the first place. There are a number of reasons why your pictures turn out blurry. These reasons can act alone, or together. Here are the top 6 reasons for your blurry photos.
1. You focused on the wrong thing. Oops.
Did you know each time you take a photo, your camera chooses only one point on which to focus, and that is the point in the photo that will be sharpest? Now ask yourself, how does your camera know what to focus on?
As photographer, maker of sharp photos, you need to take control of what to focus on and learn how to choose the point of focus. Focusing on the main subject of your photo is the first step to getting sharp photos. Learn more about how to do this with my free Guide: 6 Reasons Your Photos of Your Kids Are Blurry (And How to Fix Them!).
2. Your depth of field is too small. Your what?
Ok, so what the heck is ‘depth of field’? Now, above, I just told you that only one point in the photo can be in focus, but it’s a bit of a lie. Actually, everything that is equally far away from the camera as that focused-on-point will also be sharp. As points in the photo become closer to or further away from the camera than that point, they become blurrier and blurrier.
Depth of field refers to how far in front or behind those points can be before they become positively blurry. You want to make sure your depth of field is big enough that all the different parts of your photo that you want to be sharp fall within your depth of field. Learn more about how to do this with my free Guide.
3. Your subject is moving too fast.
Simply put, if you are photographing a fast moving subject (like say, a toddler), there is a good chance it will show up blurry in your photo. This all has to do with shutter speeds and light. Did you know you can ‘freeze’ this action with some basic camera settings? You need to take some steps to increase your shutter speed to stop the motion with your camera. Learn more about how to do this here.
4. YOU (and your camera) are moving too fast
This is quite similar to #3. In some circumstances, the motion introduced by that tiny, natural shake in your hands is enough to blur your subject. Again, you need to take some steps to increase your shutter speed to eliminate handshake blur. Learn how here.
5. Low light.
Low light – inside, at dusk or night, or even in heavy shadows, causes a lot of problems in photography. Your camera tries to compensate for low light but usually just ends up making your photos grainy, which can give the appearance of blur. Also, your camera has trouble focusing on things in low light (just like we do). Feeding your camera carrots won’t help. Learn if low light is your problem here.
6. Your subject is too close to the camera.
Every camera has a limitation on how close a subject it can focus on. Fixing this one is fairly obvious – step back.
The next steps to fixing your blurry photo problem are figuring out which of these above problems are YOUR problems in any given photo. Then, of course, you need to learn and apply the tips and tricks to eliminating those problems and ending up with nice sharp album-worthy results.
Now, there is too much good info here to squeeze into a wee blog post like this one, and I don’t want to break the internet, but fear not. I’ve gathered up all the tips and tricks and explanations and put them in my free guide: 6 Reasons Your Photos of Your Kids Are Blurry (And How to Fix Them!) Grab it and sit down with a cuppa while the wee ones nap, and learn how to identify and eliminate the problems that are plaguing YOUR photos.
I guarantee, great photo results are yours for the taking!
p.s. Go out and practice! Start by dragging the kids to the park and grabbing these top 8 not-to-be-missed playground shots!
p.p.s. Moms don’t let mom-friends take blurry photos of their kids. Be a good friend. Share this post.