I have a huge extended family, so I’ve been taking pictures of children for a long time. I’ve done everything from newborn portraits to high school graduations, taking pictures of solo subjects and whole families. While there is no wrong way to take pictures of children, there are definitely ways that can make things easier for you. Here awesome things that I have found makes the job less stressful and more fun:
- Small kids like props. Balloons are always good because they tend to look up at them instead of down at the floor. I have also found stacking blocks to be very helpful, as it keeps kids in a specific place and as the tower gets higher, their eye gaze changes so it can help you get that great shot. Nearly anything they can throw in the air—things like streamers, leaves, flower petals, or soap suds end up looking pretty amazing, too.
- Don’t force anything. Some kids take longer to warm up to you, or in some cases the camera, and so you just have to wait. Eventually, they will decide to ignore you and start playing, which will give you the great active shots you’re looking for, or they will accept small directions. Then you are off and running! Keep things light and fun, and you will be surprised at how easy it ends up being.
- Be prepared to crawl around or kneel, or whatever it takes to get on their level. Kids are going to be shorter than you are so their eye level will be much lower. You have to get down to their level or all your photos will be of the top of the child’s head or from afar. Once your subject is comfortable with you, get right in there. You’ll get excellent shots that way.
- Unless they’re going to be IN the photo, tell the parents to back off. They can make the child anxious, or coax them to smile, or any number of things that will disrupt the natural flow of the session. Let them just hang back and enjoy the time “off” without acting like a stage parent. Assure them that if you need help with the child, you’ll ask for it.
- Address the child directly if they are old enough to understand you. If they are hesitant, ask them questions. Find something out that they like from their parents beforehand, and ask them about it. You would not believe how many princess/superhero/video game conversations I have had with kids. But their faces glow and their smiles widen when they are talking about something they’re passionate about, and it can really help you both get good shots and warm them up to you.
- Be sure you have the right lenses and use the correct shutter speed. Kids are fast. They can run far. Depending on the size of the venue you’re using, it can be impossible to get clear, focused shots if you aren’t prepared. Plan ahead. And bring extra batteries.
That’s it for now. I wish you the best of luck, and remember: have fun! It will definitely show in the final product!