If you have heard that photographing models is tricky business, photographing kids is definitely harder! At the same time photographing children needn’t be harder than it has to be, if you put a little planning into it.
Shoot with Minimum Gear
A lot of fancy equipment and lights can intimidate a child and make him or her self conscious. It is a much better idea to shoot in the outdoors while you the photographer stays out of the way (think long lens from a distance). Also, you don’t want cables all over the place when shooting kids in a studio – they could trip and hurt themselves.
Always Ask the Parents Before you Shoot
Parents can get unnerved about the idea of a stranger taking photos of their kids, and rightly so. Always ask the parent or guardian before you shoot at public places. If you plan to use the images for a commercial purpose, you will need the parents to sign a model release form, for which they do have a right to discuss monetary benefits.
Talk to the Children
Well, if you are not shooting from a distance, it is good to communicate with the kids so they don’t look at you as an intrusion. Here’s where you need to use your people skills to get them as comfortable as they can.
Don’t Pose them Too Much
Children are usually not too self conscious, so don’t spoil that candid feeling by asking them to pose this way and that. Once they are comfortable having you and your camera around, you will probably get much better images in any case.
Get on Your Knees
It is important for the camera to be on eye-level with the child. This makes the photographs more appealing and personal – so enter the child’s world, rather than shoot from an adult’s point of view.
Shoot a Few Close Crops
While adults may not always be comfortable with very close crops of their faces, photographing tightly composed images of a child can really help bring out their best features. Children have very strong facial expressions, not put-on but genuine; try and capture those expressions with close crops of their faces.
Props are Always Good
Give the kids something to do! A Teddy bear, a soft ball, a water pistol? Children easily get engrossed with their favorite toys, and that’s when they stop caring if somebody is taking pictures of them.
Why not try and capture different emotions of the children by giving them enough reason to change facial expressions. A fairy tale could work well with younger kids, while instructions on how to make a pancake could interest older children. Get creative with what you tell them, and you’ll get all the expressions that you want!
Most children love being outdoors more than being stuck inside. Try shooting when the sun is not too high up, and you will get a nice warm tone on your photographs. You could also plan on a few action shots of the kids playing outdoors.
Work on Your Own Patience
Photographing kids is definitely not easy, but you need to keep at it until you get the right images. Even if it means putting off the shoot to another day! Children simply cannot be forced to pose for photographs when they are not in the frame of mind to do so.