Child Photography 101

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CC Photo by maessive

Things you should know about child photography:

+ Children make for better portrait subjects than adults. Why? Not only are they completely adorable, they don’t pose. I’ve met enough adults that just won’t relax and stop posing.

+ Children can smell insincerity. They can smell fear. I used to teach kindergarten, so believe me, that’s true. I would say a prerequisite to taking good photos of children is actually liking them.

+ Choose your fastest lens, if possible. These little people hardly ever sit still. I prefer using my 50mm 1.8. I’m still saving up for an 85mm. My 40D burned a hole right through my pocket.

+ A good way to break the ice is to play with them first. Smile. Talk to them; ask them their name and how old they are. Make them guess how old you are. Laugh. You could show them your camera and tell them what you’re going to do with it, but make sure their hands are clean and your lens cap is on. I hope you never know how it feels to watch a little boy’s chocolate-covered paws heading straight for your lens.

+ Once you’ve established a rapport and gained their trust, the rest should be easy, really. I prefer leaving them alone, and quietly taking pictures of them as they do whatever it is they do.

+ Children will either look at you curiously or ignore you completely. Either works, so work it. Unless they’re throwing tantrums. Don’t flinch and run away when they do though. Take pictures of them crying. Those rock, too.

+ Laugh. Seriously. They respond to laughter. Although I have to say it does help that I’m a girl. Sorry, guys. It’s seldom as easy for you, unless you’re shooting your own children.

+ Fill the frame! I’ve seen too many shots that could have been so much better, if only the photographer had zoomed in or walked just a few steps forward. If all else fails, experiment with tighter cropping on Photoshop.

+ Get on your knee and shoot at eye level.

+ BUT know when to shoot wide and/or shoot down. When the context is just as important or more important than the child herself, shoot wide. When you’re trying to tell the story from an adult’s perspective, or want to emphasize how small they are, shoot down.

+ Have them tie their shoelaces. It makes for an excellent photograph. Let them try on an adult’s sunglasses, play the piano (you can focus on the hands), have a little girl put her bare feet on dad’s shoes and have them dance around, have the child hug mom or dad’s pant leg… you’ll never run out of picture-perfect moments if you just look.

Feel free to add anything I may have missed.

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