In the past few years, taking photos of children has become a highly politicised act and there is a lot of public fear surrounding the situation. But in appreciating the joy that a child brings to their new family, there should be no hesitation in taking delight in documenting their offspring's childhood.
This is easier said than done, and there aren't any rights and wrongs when it comes to photographing kids, but hopefully the tips below will help you get better results. In years to come you can all look back at those treasured memories!
Step 1. Keep It Natural
My favourite way to photograph children is in a completely natural environment, in a place where the child is happy with their surroundings and the people present. This will generate a far easier environment to take photographs in, as the child will be happy and playful.
In this scenario, keep equipment to a minimum, as you may need to more around a lot and work with the lighting you've got. It might be beneficial to have a nice quick lens to capture those split second facial expressions. Try to position yourself well and have quick reactions to capture that smile!
Step 2. Grab Their Attention!
Kids aren't the easiest subjects to work with, they can easily get distracted and may not really understand what's going on, but try to give them a focal point to evoke a reaction from them.
You could try letting them play with a favourite toy, but if you want them to look your way, trying pulling a funny face or telling a joke, grab their attention in some way so their focus is on you.
Try to get down to their level so you're pointing the camera at head height and to enhance the interaction between you and the child.
Step 3. Be Patient
Children behave unpredictably, one minute they are smiling and jumping around, the next minute, they're in tears and hiding away, so as a photographer you have to be very patient and just go with however the child is reacting.
Having mum and dad close at hand can be a real help - especially when the child needs comforting, but also as a point of interaction that you may even want to include in the photo. Kids will react to those around them, so if you're not getting results you wanted with the child on their own, try getting someone else involved for those wonderful moments of interaction.
Step 4. Formal or Informal?
The other option when taking photos of children is to set up a scene and take it more like a portrait shot. This can produce great results if you can avoid it looking too staged, and keep the child engaged with the shot.
Most children aren't particularly good at following instructions, so it can be very difficult to get them to position themselves as you'd like. You've got to take your chances and be ready to catch that beaming smile!
Think carefully about the location of the shot - if you're aiming for something more formal, don't take them to the playground!
Step 5. Have Fun!
Most of the time, children are delightful to be around (if you've got the energy!) and you should be able to capture some great moments and expressions that you can share with family and friends and look back upon.
In the same way that you'd incorporate a person's character or occupation into a portrait shot, you can try and do the same with a child. If they're bright and bubbly, see if you can capture the essence of that energy in the photo. If they're slightly younger or a bit shy, don't worry - try and exemplify that quality!
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