A Guide to Photographing Children
Photographing children can be both challenging and fun at the same time. Especially if you know as a photographer the best practices in capturing great photos of children which we will be listing down here.
Show Kids in Action
There will be certain events and days that any parent would want to preserve in memory. If this is a public or group event, you would like to see the child stand out from the crowd, like being one of the flower girls in the wedding if you are a documentary wedding photographer. If possible, use a telephoto lens with the capability of zooming in, ensuring a clear view of the child in the center of the frame. Keep the background out of focus by choosing a shallow depth of field. Choose sports mode if it is a fast moving event and take a series of shots and avoid blurs.
Capture their Innocence
Innocence is one of the things we associate with childhood – why not capture this? It could be an innocent expression or a moment of childish fun. Let the child play, or perhaps talk to them about something that makes them think. You can ask them to think of their funniest joke or if they have a secret. Choose a shallow depth of field to keep the child the focus of the shot and a shutter speed that compliments this.
Children are full of expressions and creativity. Try to capture everyday things but rather than asking your child to pose, let them have fun and do their usual thing. Bath time with lots of bubbles usually leads to mischief and fun; use flash indoors if you have a dim lighting and also to freeze the action. Be aware that if you have a lot of white and reflective surfaces, the flash may appear as a bright white circle in the background.
Take Group Shots
There will always be those special days that you will want to capture, such as the first school trip, or the first time they can go out with their friends. If you are dealing with a teen, work quickly and don’t force smiles or any unnatural poses. Get the group together and use flash to freeze any motion. Tell everyone to move in and smile but don’t take more than 3 shots as teenagers will lose patience.
Capture How Much Children Have Grown
Children grow quickly so if you’re the child’s regular photographer, it’s natural to want to capture photographs of them regularly.
Working with children means being on your feet and fast even then sometimes you just can’t keep up! If you are working with a reasonable amount of light then use a shutter speed of 1/250 to freeze action- but you can use a slower speed if you use flash. A shallow depth of field keeps the child in focus, so use an aperture of f/5 or lower, if the lighting conditions permit it.
Use flash to freeze action, either the on-camera flash or a separate one for more power. A separate, dedicated flash is useful if your subject is further away or you are photographing a group of kids. You can also buy a soft-box attachment that goes over your flash unit to diffuse the light and create a soft halo rather than a harsh burst. A monopod can be useful if you are shooting on the go and need to move around quickly.
Children are great fun to work with and will give you lots of expressions and movement. Be friendly and build up a rapport, and don’t force a child to smile or pose; they will not be happy and this will show in their face. Don’t forget that backgrounds, their clothes, their hair and general presentation should be tip top to create a photo worth keeping.