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Photographing children can be incredibly rewarding; they often seem to be at their most charismatic and spontaneous when a camera is present. Ask a child to look into the camera and you probably won’t be surprised to see them pull a weird face or stick their tongue out. But one thing is for certain; you will get some wonderful photos, which can add another element to your travel photography portfolio.
Here are some simple tips to help you when photographing children.
Always ask permission from their parents if they are around. Take the time to explain why you are photographing them and what the images might be used for. You could also offer to send the parents a copy of the photo via email for their use, and if possible ask them to sign a model release form. If the parent or guardian refuses, respect their decision and move on.
If you want to capture great photos of children, get down to their level. Not only will you see the world from their eyes, but also ensure your photos feel intimate and personal. Try not to stand over top of them looking down, and as always focus, on the eyes to keep them sharp. If you use a wide aperture (f/2 – f/5.6) that should give you a blurred background, which will pull the viewer into the child’s face.
Unfortunately, anyone who has ever tried to take photos of young children knows that getting them to stand still can be incredibly difficult. So, you have to be patient and wait for the right opportunity. If they have other kids around them they might be distracted, so be patient and try to make the experience fun. For example, showing them their photo can make the whole thing more enjoyable and they might be willing to give you more of their time and be co-operative.
Photographing children while they are playing can give you the most natural images. But, if you are going to be capturing them playing or moving around, you will need a faster shutter speed to avoid your subject being blurred (unless you are looking to capture the movement and want some blur). You should be looking at 1/200th of a second or faster to avoid too much movement.
It’s a big world for a child and sometimes showing kids in context can give the viewer a sense of what children see and feel, so think about their surroundings. Are they standing next to a giant statue? Or walking next to an enormous dog? These sorts of images can look extraordinary and give your portfolio variety.
Photographing kids can be incredibly challenging but when you get it right it can offer some wonderfully light hearted and emotional images. So make sure you keep your eyes peeled for rare opportunities.
Now it’s your turn. Share your photos, thoughts and tips below.