Advice and tips on how to photograph children
Try to start your shoots with something simple, something you and your subject is familiar with. You need to make them feel comfortable and excited about what they are doing. You wants them to have fun. The best images are made when children are really into the thing they are doing at the time, only then can you begin to make the image more theatrical.
Using the moment, seeing what happens, making the most of mistakes or highlighting something. You want clean emotion and a clean moment.
When you does see something developing, you should encourage it rather than start off with a very strong idea of what you might want to do. Your aim is to emphasise the strength children have.
I believe one of the most important considerations is to be yourself. Children can see when people are behaving in a fake way, so be you in a way that is truthful, fun and accessible to them.
More often than not, try shooting with a waist-level height, which is helpful because it gives a much lower view point and makes him closer to the subject’s eye level. Try not to be looking down at a child and don’t use a tripod you have more freedom to try different things. Looking up is even better as it makes the subject a little bit bigger, a little bit more heroic. It’s important the child sees your face throughout the whole process, that they see a human being rather than your face hidden by a black box with a round hole in the front. If I am photographing a baby, I sit on the floor and the camera is in my lap. I may not even look through the camera and look directly at the baby.
Even if you shoots with 35mm, try to sneak above the camera and not just look through the viewfinder. You might prefer the freedom of manual focus; knowing instinctively just how much your hand needs to turn to go from a tight portrait to a full-length shot. Human contact is the biggest consideration.
Let the camera become this tool between you and the real world through which you select that bit of the world you want to see and understand.
One thing that makes photographing a child easier is having someone to help you keep the situation going so you can take a step back and assess and decide what to shoot or what to encourage.
Technical knowledge is useful, but photography of the moment cannot be recreated. Being true to yourself and understanding the needs of your subject will draw out the unique elements that come together to form a great image.
- Never hang your camera around your neck by a strap. It will swing from your neck and hit children in the head.
- Make your own memories. When making images of your own children, consider photographing day-to-day occasions as well as the big events such as birthdays. I have photographed one of my daughters on the same swing at the same park on many occasions, and after five years I have an interesting set of pictures. It’s also life-affirming for your children to know you were always there as a parent.
- Particularly with little ones, try to shoot them in backlight so they do not have direct sunlight in their faces. The lack of shadow can help to make the light on their face nicer, but ensure you take an exposure of the shadow area and not the average.
- It’s amazing how children, especially toddlers, react when they see their shadow for the first time. If you witness this moment, use it in a photograph. It makes for a beautiful image.
- Backlight helps to keep the background simple. By using it, you won’t have strong shadows in the background.
- In the age of digital, don’t be scared to shoot as much as you like. This allows you to experiment with different viewpoints and angles. You can always edit afterwards. Also, experiment by not looking through the camera. You are more likely to capture a moment that is unexpected.
- Never take the last frame. You never know what is going to happen in the next moment.