Ensure before you begin to photograph your child that you have all your equipment with you. Ensure you have picked your spot and set up your props if you are using them. Props will help keep the younger ones entertained, especially if it’s their favorite toy or a toy they have never seen before.
Ensure you have tested your camera settings and are ready to start taking photographs—or you are at least very close—before you get your child into the position to be photographed.
While older children might have the patience to sit still for a few minutes while you prepare yourself, in general the younger ones will not. All interest in your little corner will be lost before you even begin if you are going to be more occupied with technical camera settings than you are with keeping them entertained.
I find it always helps to start out with an image in mind. That’s not to say you don’t take an image that does not fit in with this plan. Sometimes you won’t get the shot you set out for at all. A photo session with a child is not like a photo session with an adult. Direction is often ignored, and in these situations, the more direction offered the more it will be ignored, especially if the photographer is also the parent. It’s best to have a loose plan in mind and then try your best to work around this plan. However, some days children just don’t want to cooperate at all. In these situations, rather than getting frustrated it’s best to put the camera away and leave it for another day.
Toddlers are wonderful to photograph. Place them in nice light and play with them. This will keep them interested in the moment, and they will reward you with wonderful facial expressions totally unaware of the camera. But be aware, they have very short attention spans and move quickly, so if you don’t keep them entertained they will be off.
Picking them up at this point and placing them back where you want them when something else obviously has caught their attention can end in disastrous consequences. You just might be better off trying to work around this new location you find yourself in.
Newborn babies are not that difficult to shoot, especially if they are asleep. They do not move much and even if they do, they can’t move far. They are however difficult to photograph well. Your setups will be very limited. They can not hold their heads up, body movements are not very coordinated, and they can’t see very well, leading to a kind of gazed spaced out look.
Skin can also be a problem; it’s often blemished. Turning the image to black and white or using color correcting techniques in Photoshop are often the easiest ways to combat these skin blemishes. With a bit of patience in Photoshop, scratches can easily be reduced to nothing.
Once your baby can hold their head up and focus their eyes, you have the potential for having much more fun photographing them. Sitting your baby on large sofa not only props them up but gives an impression of size—or lack of it. If the sofa is made of a white/reflective material all the shadows on the baby will be softened with reflective light.
From about 3 years old onwards, photography gets a little more difficult but can be very rewarding. Especially if you plan to have the photo session indoors. You need to find activities to keep them entertained, like painting, dressing up, blowing bubbles, etc. I find it much easier to let this age group outdoors and just follow them with the camera in hand. Try to play games with the child; enter their world, and you will rewarded. Play games like peek-a-boo behind a tree, or go on an adventure to Africa from your own backyard or local park. The added bonus is these little adventure games are good for your child and good for the bond between you both.
Playgrounds are also a very good, too, and provide ample opportunity for photography. However, they can be a bit more of a challenging location. Some of the issues I’ve experienced with playgrounds are other children getting in the shot and poor quality of light. Quite often playgrounds are not situated in the best lighting locations. By this, I mean they are generally in very open areas, and if it’s a sunny day open areas don’t make for great photographs because of the high contrast range of the light and the shadows created from the high overhead light.
So at this point, I wish you the very best of luck and would like to remind you to have fun. You will be rewarded with natural photographs capturing not only the essence of childhood but the true personality of your child.
About the Author
Specialist in stunning Wedding Photography. I’m a wedding photographer living in Skerries, Co. Dublin, Ireland.
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