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Check out our new eBook – CLICK! How to Take Beautiful Photos of Your Children
How should I photograph my children? This is a question we’re asked a lot at DPS and so I thought I’d put together a few Child Photography tips.
I’ve outlined them below in two parts – ‘settings’ and ‘the shoot’. Keep in mind that it reflects how I photograph children and by no means do I have a monopoly on the only way to do it – feel free to add your own tips in comments below.
Photograph by thejbird
Lets start by looking at some tips on how to set your camera up when photographing children.
OK – so we’ve talked camera settings – lets move on to the shoot itself.
Image by darkmatter
Before I give some specific tips about the shoot, I think it’s worth saying that you want to get the children that you are photographing as comfortable with you and the camera as possible. Showing kids photos after you’ve taken them, letting the child look through the viewfinder and even take a few shots (if they’re old enough), spending time with the kids before taking shots – all of these things can help set the child at ease. The more relaxed they are the better.
Location – Where you shoot will depend a lot on your situation – but try to think of a 2-3 scenes/settings that you could go to before you start shooting. If you have a few hours – pick at least one outside (a park perhaps), one inside (in their bedroom or play room perhaps) and try to find a spot where you have a fairly simple background (something with color can be good) for a few posed shots. Choose places where your kids have fun, where you can show them in their natural playful environment. If you’ve got the time go to the zoo, beach or some other fun place.
Photo by Brian Hathcock
Candid Approach – I try to shoot candidly with kids as much as possible. Get them doing something that they enjoy and just start snapping. You might ask them to stop/pause what they are doing every now and again and to look at you (at the top of a slide for instance) but over time you’ll find lots of moments in the normal run of their ‘play’.
Image by Jeff Kubina
‘Posing’ – With older kids you might find that they respond better to ‘posing’ moments. I find with little kids that they don’t often have the attention span for this (and they tend to pull the cheesiest smiles they can).
Photography by Larryboi90
Get down on their level – You’ve got young children so unless they’re very unusual they’ll be half your height. Shooting from an adult’s perspective looking down on kids will leave you with average looking shots. Get on their level, make the camera level with their eyes (or even slightly below) – do this and you’ll get much more intimate shots.
Photograph by carf
Alter Your Perspective – Having said that – sometimes you can get a really great shot by breaking this ‘get on their level’ rule. Shooting from directly above or below can also give a great result!
Picture by bass nroll
Photography by ToniVC
Get close/Zoom – you’ve got a lens with reasonable focal length (I’d probably prefer something a little longer myself) but you’ll want to get in reasonably close in order to fill your frame with your kids. At times it’ll be good to zoom out or step back in order to get their context – but your parents want to see your kids faces – so make sure they dominate the shot rather than their environment.
Photograph by thejbird
Focus Upon the Eyes – Pay particular attention to your kids eyes. If you’ve got the single zone focusing switched on – choose eyes as the focus point. You can get away with other facial features a little fuzzy but the viewer of an image always is drawn to the eyes of the subject.
Photograph by Herve Kerneis
Backgrounds – pay a lot of attention to the backgrounds of your images. A background can give context to your shots but also can be a real distraction. Before you start shooting clean up any distracting items. Make at least one of your locations a place with a fairly undestracting background. I like to try to find a colorful wall or even to set up a sheet/background for a few more posed shots with the child just standing there in front of it. Alternatively light your subject in such a way that there is no background.
Photograph by carf
Get Abstract – mix your shots up with a few more abstract shots. For instance take a picture of their shoes, zoom right in on their hands or eye lashes, get them framed so only part of their head is in shot. These more playful shots can be a lot of fun and will add variety to the end results of your shoot.
Image by melinkita
Photograph by mpisti
Clothes – my motto with clothes is to choose some that the child feels comfortable in and that reflects their personality. If you put them in their Sunday best but they can’t move freely – your shots will look stilted. The only other advice on clothes is that sometimes bold, plain colors can work well. Perhaps have a couple of outfits on hand that you change them into between locations.
Photography by Wazari
Shoot in burst mode – for at least part of your shoot switch your camera into burst mode (where the camera shoots a lot of shots fast). I actually usually shoot a whole shoot in this mode – but particularly when shooting outside or at a park where your kids are on the move it can be very useful. Look for ‘series’ of shots that might go together in a multiple image frame on a wall OR which you could put together into one image with photoshop (a child running, sliding down a slide, on a swing, doing a dance, riding a bike…) – these can be a lot of fun.
Images by Diyosa
Photography by Glenn Loss-Austin
Include other People – one good way to help relax a child if they’re a little tense and to give an image a little more context/story is to add another person into the image. Whether it be a sibling, parent, friend – adding a second person into a shot adds another point of interest and introduces the idea of ‘relationship’ into your image. It can also distract the child from you and help them to be a little more relaxed.
Image by dlemieux
Speaking of fun – do your best to make the shoot as much fun as possible. Show the children some of the shots you take, ask them to do funny things, be funny yourself – all of this will bring energy to your shoot, help the child to relax and capture some of their spirit. The more fun they have the more genuine and engaging the shots will be.
Photo by Todd Baker
Check out our new eBook – CLICK! How to Take Beautiful Photos of Your Kids
These are just some of my tips for Photographing Children – what would you add? Got some great kids portraits already? Share them with us in the Share Your Shots section of our forum.
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