Photographing children can really be a challenge, but with a few simple techniques you can get through the session with lots of smiles and beautiful pictures. Here are ten tips that have helped me photograph children that I know will bring you success as well.
1. Establish a Relationship
Be confident and outgoing when you meet children, especially if you have never seen them before. Establish a playful friendship so that they will feel comfortable around you. Talk to them for a few minutes before taking any photos; they are more scared of you than you are of them! :)
2. Give Rewards
From the moment you meet, let him/her know that there is something in it for them if they cooperate. Of course you need to make sure with the parents that it’s okay first. If you bring props, you can let them take home one of the props when you’re done. If not, bring a lollipop or something small. They will want to do well to get the reward.
3. Ask Questions
Ask them a few simple questions. What is your favorite color? If they’re elementary age, ask if they have a crush on someone at school to get that innocent, embarrassed, giddy look.
4. Use Props
A good prop is a great distraction which will enable you to get closer—anything that will enhance your vision for the shoot. Lollipops, hats, balloons, toys, necklaces, etc.
Most children cannot stay in a pose for very long, so just play. Peek-a-boo, hide and seek, make funny faces—anything that will get them comfortable and allow you to capture smiles. If you’re so bold, bring a little noise maker that makes funny sounds and play it every once in a while to get a reaction. Move around as they play to photograph real moments.
6. Use Positive Reinforcement
If you ask them to stand in a particular spot for a moment and they do well. Praise them. Great job! You’re awesome! What a beautiful smile! High-five! This works well, especially with siblings. The other siblings waiting to be photographed will want the positive attention from you too and will most likely do what you ask.
7. Find Comfortable Poses with Objects
Objects are comfortable when there is a barrier or something to lean on. It automatically takes away some of the fear the child may have and may invite a spirit of play. If they are cooperative, suggest games with an object, a tree, a bench, etc., and encourage props as part of the picture.
8. Play “Can You See?”
If you’re running out of options, and you need a few more shots, ask them if they can see your eyeball through your lens. Make a silly game out of it. When they look up into your lens, you might find that perfect candid shot.
9. Get Assistance
Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from the parents. They can play, sing songs, or make faces with them behind your back as you’re shooting to get real time expressions.
10. Look Down
Some photographers say that when shooting children, you should get down on his/her level. That is a great angle, but I also like to use a higher angle and shoot down. It can give it a creative edge.
Be creative with the tips and make them your own. Have fun and happy shooting!
About the Author:
Born in Chattanooga, Kim Lindsey is based in Jacksonville, FL where she graduated with a BFA in photography from the University of North Florida. She specializes in event, real estate and portrait photography and wants to continue producing documentary and photojournalistic projects in order to educate.
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