Children photography, how to do it better
It’s summer, your kids are having fun getting dirty, or just being kids. Your camera in hand and you are ready to freeze those moments that will soon fade into the past. Sounds simple enough but anyone whoever photographed kids knows that it is a much harder than it sounds.
Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Use a zoom lens (warning: Geek talk)
Although it is not a gear related article, this is a biggy. If you shoot with a DSLR and you want to capture many great photos of your kids, get a mid-range zoom lens, period. Get one that gives you a wide angle (18mm or so) and goes above 100mm. There are plenty of excellent mid-range kit lenses that are light and affordable. Shooting with a zoom lens gives the flexibility you need for a fast pace scene when things are moving all the time. I still have my 18-135mm kit lens from over 10 years ago and it is a superb lens for a crop sensor camera.
Prime lenses (fixed lenses, they do not zoom) are great for portraits when you either have one subject in front of you (as opposed to a group of running kids), the subject is too young to move fast or is willing to stay in one place more than 5 seconds. If you are serious about your photography, get a decent zoom lens and a prime lens like the 50mm f/1.8 and you are set.
Here is my suggested lens combination – Practical tips for children photography
2. Go down to their level
Next, remember that although capturing from above can create some nice shots, generally you should be at around the kids’ height. If you are outside and your kids are running around take a low chair or a mat, plunk yourself in a place when you have a great view of their activity and start following them with your lens. Every now and then just move around and change spots.
Another great tool is a mono-pod. Get a cheap one for around $30 and save those shoulders (especially if you holding a DSLR). When the camera is on a mono-pod and at your eye level (which should be also the kids’ level), you can pan really quickly and capture great shots that otherwise would be missed. It takes some getting used to but it’s a great way to photograph kids in action.
unique point of view – Practical tips for children photography
3. Keep taking photos. Many, many photos
Yes, take lots of photos. If you wait for the right moment or the right expression you will most certainly miss it. Your kids change expressions at the same speed they play so Keep pressing the button. if you have burst mode on your camera. use it. That’s when a mono-pod can really help, the camera is always pointed at the direction of the kids without you holding it.
keep taking those photos! – Practical tips for children photography
4. Keep it natural, no forced smiles.
Your children have their own expressions, smiles, smirks etc., let them express themselves as they are. You will capture much better photos like that. Kids who try to smile usually look funny but not in the right way. To get them to smile their own way, talk to them, make jokes, throw stuff their way, engage. Ask them silly questions (depending on their age) like “what is your favorite color?” Or, “what happens if I tickle you?”. While engaging, they forget about the camera and their personality comes through. Keep pushing that button.
let them be them – Practical tips for children photography
5. Give them something to do
If you want semi pose images ask them to do something. Tell them that you want to paint a wall in the house and you want to see how different colors look like. Make them stand in front of the wall and be goofy. Soon enough they will start making funny remarks about each other or start moving in a funny way.
Dancing against the wall – Practical tips for children photography
lighting a candle or making them think… – Practical tips for children photography
6. Let them lead
We all know that many times if we aks kid to do something they say “no!” especially if they feel that they have to perform. Instead, ask them what they are about to do. Or “how much do you love your sister?” Try to anticipate what is coming right after.
Let them take inititive, you might be surprised – Practical tips for children photography
7. Vary your shots
That’s where a zoom lens can be very helpful. Get close and get headshots closeups of them in action. Full body shots with closeups make for a great combination, especially when creating albums. Dial the zoom lens back and forth constantly.
For soccer moms, here is a video tutorial of some great basic soccer photography tips presented by Adorama.