It’s so fun to take pictures of children! They’re spontaneous, sweet, playful and curious. Or they could be quite the opposite! It can be either easy or hard to capture a great moment of children running around. That is why you should join in any child’s activity or you can play together. This is how you are going to take emotional and unforgettable pictures!
It is the photographer’s responsibility to make the best of it. I’ll give you some tips and gladly share my experience as a lifestyle photographer.
I have some ideas about different ages. Infants are fairly easy to shoot, they don’t move as fast as adults. Make sure to notify parents, that the child should be well fed and waken up just in time for a photo session. Also, ask parents to prepare warm clothes. Finally, ask them to put the child on a clean mat or bed, where you can start making a close-up portrait.
Taking Photos Of Toddlers
Toddlers are very delicate models because they will never sit still. They behave like a perpetual mobile! You have to be ready to follow them wherever they want to, and you know, they usually have a million different things in mind, and your photo session is the last they think about. Here’s a clever trick to grab any toddler’s attention. Try to seat them down. You can use anything: a wooden horse, a kid’s chair, and even his or her electric car. If none is at hand, then give them something to hold. It may be a toddler’s favorite toy or any interesting thing. You can always go for old-school methods like making a funny noise or showing toddler a silly face. Keep in mind that it can work only for a few times at the most.
Kids over three years old are easier to work with. When you meet a kid, remember to sit down and make eye contact with him/her. Only after that you have a good chance to get to know each other. The best way to make friends is to ask simple questions about what this kid likes to play with. You may as well join the game he or she is playing at that moment. You can ask them about their favorite cartoons or movies. Additionally, you can also try to imitate the characters from the films. If you ask a child a tricky question, you will be able to capture on camera his wonderful and emotional answer. And parents will be happy to see their kids being so happy and emotional.
Now let me tell you something about my personal tips that I am keeping in mind when I am doing a family photo shoot.
Capture every interesting moment you can
Photography is a great way to show the essence of the moment. Try to catch a family’s favorite pastime: games, conversations, emotions and smiles. Every activity is a source of many memorable moments. I beg you, make only a few photos, where a family is posing. In my opinion, the best pictures show our kids way of life. In ten years time these pictures will give you a warm and nostalgic feeling. It’s the same what you experience when you look at your parents’ pictures showing them young. Follow the kids and take pictures how they play games, eat, talk, and have fun or just learn the world. Take a picture of small details like snowflakes on hair, little fingers holding a flower, lock of hair black-lit by the sun. These pictures not only give you the feeling of the day but also are very useful for a photo book that client may order.
Always look at what is in the background
This can be crucial. Any unwanted object or detail in the background may ruin your picture. If you take pictures inside, make sure to remove unnecessary toys or clothing. If the background is too bright and colorful look for another one that is more dimmed.
Natural lightening is the best
No flash light can be compared with natural lightening! If you take pictures inside at your client’s place, you can take kids closer to the window and draw up the curtains. In addition, if you have to use your flash, make sure to direct it to the ceiling to fill the room with the soft light. Finally, if you have a photo shoot outside, tell your clients that the best time to start is in the morning or closer to the evening (2-3h before the sunset). This is because you the soft light is advantageous for the work. Your models won’t squint in the sun, and you’ll be able to get more details in shadows and no overexposed faces. Also, shadows won’t be as sharp as they are at noon. It all applies to a sunny day. But if you shoot on a cloudy day, you can start a photo shoot at any time of the day.
Focus on the eyes
Focusing on the eyes is an obvious thing to do. If you have an artistic idea, you’re more than welcome to do what you want to. But keep in mind, that clients usually like more detailed and sharp pictures. If you’ve caught an amazing emotion and you’re a bit out of focus – do not throw the picture away and put it in the series!
A point of view
A classical portrait of a child requires shooting it from his/ her eye level. So prepare to shoot a lot sitting on the floor. This is the least comfortable pose to work from, believe me, but it is the best. Don’t forget to experiment, to try things out. Look for new ideas. Don’t be shy to shoot from different points of view. You never know where you’ll get the best picture of the photo shoot.
Use different shot sizes
One of the easiest ways to grab viewer attention is to use different shot sizes just like in movies. Take an establishing shot where to tell a viewer about the place, then take a medium shot to show what the model is up to. After that, you can make a close-up picture to show emotions. And for the final touch, mix it up with details.
Do not ask a child to pose for you
There is nothing worse, than a kid that tries to pose for a photograph. I feel like it is unnatural for kids to act as models. Ask them to be themselves or find out what they like to do. Also, instead of telling a kid to smile, tell something funny or ask a question, or maybe ask to cite a poem. Even a silly conversation can draw different emotions.
Always think about composition
The golden rule of photography is the rule of thirds. An image is divided evenly into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and the important part of the picture is placed at the intersection of those dividing lines. You can also use central composition, but remember eyes of a model should be just above the highest horizontal line. Also, central composition requires that photographer should capture some kind of symmetry in picture.
The more the better
Try to capture kids in different poses, static or dynamic. Ask kids to run around, jump, or even spin. You may want to take some props along to a photoshoot and engage kids to play a game with it. Kids love to play games, don’t they? So the photo shoot has to be a part of that game, the part of the adventure! Try to change scenery as much as you can: you can take a picture in a sitting room, kitchen, or garden. Ask your clients about a place that might interest them and their kids.
Finally, always stay positive, even if the weather is playing tricks on you! You can always adapt and make it a fun time for everyone!
For the picture you see below, I asked the father to fly a little kid like an airplane. Toddlers love that kind of action! I used tele lens Nikkor 80-200mm to blur the side with tiny lamps for nice bokeh. I really love the Rockshutter Prism base effect; it makes any skin soft and light. After I applied this effect, I darkened areas around the child, and then used Infinity collections Violet Rays FX for color variation, because the photo looked warm all around and I wanted to add more colors to it. I boosted the contrast a bit and made the picture a bit cooler with Color Balance adjustment layer. I removed the white line behind on the wall and that’s it. The picture is ready!