Youngsters are back to school, and you know what that means—annual school portraits. School portraits can be challenging for both the kids and the photographer. Here are a few tips to hopefully help school picture day run a bit more smoothly.
1. Talk to the Kids
Many of them will be frightened, and a conversation can make them feel more comfortable. I know this is obvious to most people, but it matters. Try to befriend them while you install your setup. Making friends with some of the kids can earn you a VIP card. Make jokes! (But only if you’re certain they will understand and like them.)
2. Don’t Neglect the Children Waiting in Line
Ask all of the kids to participate, show them the images, ask for their help.
Watch how they play when waiting, and catch some of their laughs. Even if those photos don’t make it into the graduation album, they will be successful and will boost their self-esteem. Small kids can have big egos, too, so be respectful.
3. Bring Your Favorite Lens, But Also Pack a Telephoto
The zoom will allow you to stay further away and get a glimpse of their play while being less intrusive.
4. Don’t Over-Polish Them
Make sure the kids brush their hair and clothes, but don’t overdo it.
You want to capture their essence and inner beauty.
5. Arrive Early
It will be a long day, so getting there early will be helpful, especially if it’s an outdoor session. Last time I had a school session, the temperature was upward of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so we started at 8am.
6. Find a Comfortable Location
Unless a studio photo is a must, try to shoot in a spot familiar to them—perhaps outside or in their classroom.
Twenty years from now, the background will matter more than the photo itself. Try several places. Some kids will be happier in the classroom, and others will act natural on the school’s field.
7. Get Some Group Shots
Remember – the teacher is very important to primary school kids.
Don’t overdo it, though. If the teacher is omnipresent, some will feel intimidated.
8. Use Bursts
Facial expressions will change often, and you don’t want to miss the perfect shot.
9. Use a Higher ISO
Any movement can result in blurriness—fast shutter speed can also help.
10. Go for a Wide Aperture
Remember to always check your background.
Don’t rush to choose f/1.4 or f/2.8 if you have your models posing in a line. If one of the kids is moving along that line, his/her face will be blurry.
11. Make Sure Both Eyes Are in Focus
Experiment a bit.
Wide aperture is important if the background is unattractive. Choose f/8.0 if you want it partially visible. Experiment by moving further or closer to your model.
12. Choose Various Lenses and Angles
Go for a low angle if you want to increase height and make the kids look taller.
13. Shoot RAW
This is already old school and goes for any kind of photography. RAW format can improve quality and save you a lot of headache in post-processing (despite being slightly more time consuming overall and requiring more storage). P.S. You can also sell RAWs at higher prices on Dreamstime.
Like This Article?
Don't Miss The Next One!
Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current: