Tips on child photography for beginners

Photographing children is entirely different to photographing an adult. Some children will cooperate for the shoot, or carry on, oblivious of the camera; others may cringe at the camera or get restless and run off. This means the photographer may have to adopt a little flexibility into the photo session.

How to Photograph a Child

Successful child photography can be a satisfying experience, as children can be notoriously difficult to capture on film; but sticking to a rigid practice will not always yield great shots. Depending upon the situation, the photographer may have to plan the shoot in different ways.

Candid photos are more likely if putting yourself into the child’s world. Lowering the viewpoint is one such way. Place yourself into the child’s environment such as a garden or playroom and get snap-happy. Children are unpredictable and fast-movers, so try to anticipate what the child will do next. Focus on the child before he/she turns so that you are ready to press the shutter release the moment something interesting happens. Most children will forget your presence once engrossed in play.

How to Photograph Children at Play

When it comes to capturing children’s character, little beats photo shoots of kids at play, such as during a water fight during a hot day or whilst dressing up in fancy clothes. The outdoors is flooded with natural daylight, ideal for capturing interesting facial expressions and various skin tones. Soft sunlight on a bright, cloudy day will prevent harsh shadows and the need to use a fill-in flash. However, a flash can be come in useful if intending to create a ‘halo’ effect around the child’s hair in backlight. This can be achieved by shooting into the sun. Forcing the flash will prevent deep shadows over the child’s face.

Camera Settings for Kid Photography

Don’t be too concerned about the child being scrubbed-up for the shoot. In fact, a loose hair-braid or a disheveled coat could add charm to the shot. If the background is important for the photo, such as toys in a playroom or furniture in a playhouse, use a small aperture to optimize depth of field. This will bring background elements into focus as well as the child. If preferring to blur the background behind the child, use a wider aperture (say, around F-8 or wider) Action shots will require faster shutter speeds, but good lighting will be vital so that sufficient light is able to enter the lens during this brief period.


Children’s Portrait Photography

The photographer needs to be quick when it comes to camera settings before conducting the shoot, for kids not wait, particularly when it comes to the head-and shoulders shot. Taking too long could result in a frozen smile, a bored expression or the back of the head view. Take the light reading and focus upon the spot before the child is ready, or better still, take the shot there and then. This could result in more natural expressions. Capturing a daydream moment or a little frown could turn out to be the most treasured photo of all.

Capturing Children’s Expressions in Photos

Don’t worry about taking too many shots; unsuitable ones an always be deleted. This is why I would empty my memory card before conducting shots of children to avoid frustration of the perfect shot being eluded by an empty memory card. Sudden movement on the child’s part could also create unbalanced compositions. Empty space can always be cropped on the computer and a more balanced view achieved.

Kid Photograph Guide

Capturing kids on film requires flexibility on the photographer’s part. Don’t expect the child to wait around whilst trying to get the camera ready. Prepare the camera before the child realizes. Get down to the child’s level and wait for a distracted moment, when he/she forgets you are there. Get snap-happy and don’t worry about taking too many photos. I prefer natural daylight to a flash indoors, as interesting skin hues can be revealed. Try out different settings to bring the background in or out of focus, and try to get some action shots on a hot day. Photographing the child in context of a play area will inform on the child’s life and character. This will work to make the photo more unique.