Photographing children can be infuriating and rewarding at the same time. Get it right and you will end up with wonderful photos that can captivate the viewer. The great thing about photographing children is that often they are at their most animated when a camera is pointing at them. How many times have you tried to take a photo of a child and they have pulled a funny face? But photographing kids can also be incredibly challenging. Their short attention span will soon have them looking away and feeling bored. So here are 6 tips for capturing great photos of kids.
Make sure you ask permission
Needless to say that unless you are photographing your own children, you should always ask permission from the parent of the child you are photographing. Understandably people are protective of their kids and will be suspicious of people taking photos of their children. To avoid embarrassment and confrontation, be honest and speak to the parent and explain why you want to take their child’s photo. Offer to send them a copy via email for their use and if they don’t want their children’s photos taken, respect their wishes and move on. Most people will be flattered and will have no issues with you taking photos.
The saying goes “never work with children or animals” and as a photographer, it is easy to see why. Anyone who has attempted to even photograph their own children knows only too well how frustrating it can be getting them to stand still even for a second. So if you want to capture great photos of kids you have to be willing to be patient and wait for the right moment. It would help if you could make the whole process fun. For example, if there are other kids around get them to interact with each other and capture these moments. If they are distracted you may find it easier to photograph them then trying to get them to pose for the camera.
Get down to their level
One of the best ways to capture candid and personal photos of children is to get down to their level rather than standing over the top of them. By getting down to their level, you’ll see the world through their eyes and your photos will look far more unique. Try to either catch them in their own world or set up a scenario that you could see them in. For example, they could be bending down to look at a flower on the ground or just being captivated by a bug on a leaf.
Focus and sharpness
If you are taking a portrait then the most important part is the eyes. They need to be sharp and in focus otherwise, the image won’t work. If you are taking more of an environmental portrait then the eyes are less important. Generally, you should try to use a wide aperture (i.e. f/5.6) as that will blur the background and help your subject stand out more.
Depending on the situation, you will have to adjust your shutter speed accordingly. For example, if the child is playing or moving around you will need to have a faster shutter speed to freeze the action and avoid blurred photos. How fast your shutter speed needs to be will depend on the available light and how fast your subject is moving. Don’t be surprised to have to use a shutter speed of 1/250 sec or faster to capture the action.
Give it context
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 looking up at a giant tree? Or walking in next to a huge rock? These sort of images can look extraordinary and really give your portfolio a variety. They also give the viewer a glimpse of how the world is seen by kids and tell intriguing stories.
Kids are all about fun and so if you really want to capture great photos of them, try to have fun with them. Show them their photos and you’ll see the smile on their faces. Get them to take your photos and you’ll probably find that they are more co-operative when you want to take theirs. Put yourself in their world and you’ll end up with far better photos than you would do normally.
Photographing kids is difficult. But it can also have wonderful results. The most important skill for photographing kids is to have patience and be willing to accept that things will often not go according to plan. Learn to just go with it and enjoy the experience. You never know you may end up with great photos and enjoy yourself too.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.