I just had an excellent question over on my Facebook page. One reader asked, “How easy, or not, is it to get into child photography? I don’t have children, none of my friends have children but I have a growing interest in investigating the child photography side of things.”
Well one thing’s for sure – you won’t get accused of being a MWAC! Lots of us child photographers got into this genre because we have children and our passions grew out of that experimentation. However, we can get a lot of slack in the professional arena for being perceived as nothing more than a ‘mom with a camera’. So in that respect, you may find it easier to ‘get into’ this field.
But my real answer is this: My fire for photography was sparked when I decided to start photographing my children. And it grew from there. So your first hurdle will be finding enough children who you will be allowed to photograph in order to explore this, first, as a hobby.
Before I had children, kids scared me. I was skittish around them – they made me nervous. I never knew what they were going to do or what they were thinking or really how to handle them. So I can’t imagine how I would have been able to photograph them the way I do now. That’s not to say that other photographers couldn’t have made that happen. But for me, photographing a child is a two-way street. And I don’t mean “I pose you and you comply”. I allow children to lead a session while gently guiding it myself, but not controlling them. I want honesty to come through in my images and I don’t believe this would have come across way back then, before I understood children.
So we can take this scenario and apply it to any genre, really. Asking how to get into child photography without having children is like asking “how can I photograph a wedding when I’ve never had one?” Simple: go to weddings. Find a photographer who will allow you to come and assist them. Get immersed in weddings as much as you can so you can get in the position of photographing them. Want to be a pet photographer but don’t have any? Go to puppy romps, volunteer at a kennel, go to dog shows. Familiarize yourself with the subjects you’re considering as a possible genre of interest.
So my answer is the same for child photography. If you want to explore this genre but don’t have kids or friends with kids, go get immersed in kid culture. Volunteer at a play group, babysit for someone, fall in love with kids! And eventually, once you’re a part of that culture, the photographic opportunities will begin to arise.