Top tips for getting great shots of children
Most of us love to take photos of our families but it can be hard to get the youngest subjects to play along for long enough! Whether they are dancing and running around out of shot, refusing to smile or pulling over-the-top gameshow style grins, the old adage about not working with kids or pets tends to spring to mind! However all is not lost – our tips for photographing children will help you to get the perfect shot.
1. Don’t force it
Kids will respond much more naturally to a photograph if you follow their lead. Remember, if you ask them to stand in a certain place and smile, they probably won’t. Instead, encourage them to roam and interact with props and their surroundings. This will allow you to capture natural expressions and smiles as they happen – rather than ending up with a stilted and forced image.
2. Forget the smile
Don’t get obsessed with capturing smiles – just look to show off their personality with all the other expressions on offer! Children look wonderfully natural when they are just interacting with the world around them, rather than being forced to smile on demand. Try to capture those grins, frowns, grimaces and quirks that show exactly who they are. If you are struggling to get an expression, ask them a question – how far can they jump? What makes the colour red?
3. Make them feel comfortable
Kids hate feeling as though they are performing to specification, so just allow them to feel at home. There’s no reason to be indoors either for their portrait; get outdoors to a location that is special to you both, whether that’s the park, a garden or the beach. Familiarity and fun are both key ingredients to a great child-centred shot.
4. Keep holding the camera
You’ll always miss the best photo opportunity as soon as you put the camera down, so just make sure your energy matches that of your subjects! Keep watching, shooting and experimenting with the creativity of the occasion and your fantastic subjects. You’ll find too that if they begin by being silly and pulling faces, they’ll eventually drop the act and suddenly show their real selves.
5. Drop down a level
Adults are big! So drop down to their level, quite literally, and you’ll suddenly be less threatening and more approachable. You’ll find that the perspective works much better too and removes any odd angles.
6. Be fast
You’ll need to use your camera on its fastest shutter speed alongside a high ISO. This will allow you to ‘freeze’ those moments which play out at high speed. Auto cameras will usually show these as options for a high-speed or sports shot.
7. Mix things up
Take head shots, body shots, moving shots, and focus shots on hands, faces and feet. Keep moving around and being fluid as your subjects change up their poses, activities and pace. Remember too that by being flexible yourself, you can catch sneaky shots just as your subjects forget about you – leading to some beautiful truly photography that tends to occur when children are suddenly completely immersed in what they are doing.
8. Don’t stress
If it’s just not working for whatever reason, don’t force the photography session. Above all, photography of children should be fun for the kids and the photographer alike. Don’t be afraid to reschedule to a better time without stress or drama; it will reinforce to the kids that they are in control and help them to view the experience as something that is fun and an extension of their everyday playtime. You’ll love the results when they are in the mood!