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One of the most helpful tips that I was given in my early days by a friend (and that I pass on regularly) when it comes to photographing children is to give them something to do while you’re photographing them.
While older children might have the patience to sit still for a few minutes while you set up your gear, get your camera settings all right, adjust your flash and then get them sitting just right – in most cases children just don’t have the attention span.
Not only that – sitting or standing in a posed situation can lead to shots of children looking unnatural, uncomfortable and obviously ‘posed’.
A more natural way to photograph children is to set up your camera and lighting in an area where they naturally play and to photograph them while they do so.
Set them up with some paint and paper, put our their building blocks, take them to a playground, give them some balloons, capture them playing with a bubble machine, give them some dress-up clothes to get into, introduce a pet into the situation or get them involved in some other activity that they enjoy – then start shooting.
This will lead to shots with a more natural and candid feel to them. You can still call to them to look at the camera if you’re wanting a shot where they engage your viewer by staring down the lens – but you’ll find that in most cases their smiles will come across as a lot more genuine as they’ll be actually having fun.
As we’ve suggested in other ‘photographing children’ posts previously – remember to get down to their level when shooting, fill the frame, shoot in burst/continuous shooting mode and to be playful in your own style and the angles that you shoot from.
A couple of other tips on photographing children: