There are so many great suggestions and tips out there to assist in photographing children, and I will share some of my own that seem to work for me.
1. GO WITH THE FLOW….there is nothing worse than trying to force a situation or an idea onto a child. It immediately frustrates everyone involved. Sometimes, letting the child lead and giving the child control over their circumstances, relaxes them and allows them to have fun…in no time, you’ll be getting some great images, because the kiddo is actually enjoying the moment, rather than having it forced onto them.
2. TIMING….it’s important to understand that little ones are just like us adults…we have times during our day that work better for us than others…children are the same. It’s important to be sensitive to a hungry, or sleepy, or grumpy child. Pick a good time that works for them and you’ll have such an easier time of capturing a cooperative child!
3. RELATE! Some children are quiet, some are loud and ostentatious, some are shy and some are outgoing….it is our job as the photographer to be very in tune to this and be able to relate to them on their level. Make yourself small, get on the floor, on the ground, lay on your tummy, sit indian style and get on their level. Try to understand their personality before even photographing them. Once a little bit of trust is established, you can then get some great interactions between the child and your camera.
4. ENCOURAGE! I ask a child their opinion, I ask for their ideas, I ask for their direction. THEY LOVE IT! And there is no such thing as a wrong opinion or a bad idea when it comes to the child’s answer! I also encourage them to be them! I want to always encourage that during a session.
5. HAVE FUN! Kids love fun, I do too! I want it to be a win/win situation. So, this is always the goal! Play a silly game, tell silly jokes, and have fun with the child. A photography session should be about fun, especially where children are involved. Learn a few knock, knock jokes and remember them! ( I can never remember any jokes, so I am working on this one myself!)
Technical tips….When photographing children, I take a lot of pictures! I try to keep my camera always up and ready as well, because AFTER the “posed shot”, ALWAYS comes the” better shot”. Be ready to catch the in between, because this is where the magic lies.
I like to keep my gear very simple, so I can move fast and along side the child. I usually pop on my 50 1.2 lens, and go for it! I can then get close in without too much distortion, but I can also get a nice pull back shot with a lot of surrounding detail. If I’m indoors, I might be more apt to use my 35 1.4 lens for a wider angle. I usually never use a reflector, or flash or any other items that could inhibit my movement or missing a shot.
I like to engage the child in a simple activity. This helps them focus on something long enough for you to get some very still shots. I will ask them to count the blades of grass, play with a ladybug, or I’ll ask them a very in depth question that they have to ponder for a few moments. I’ll also ask them if they see any frogs or flies or cows on my head?! It always works, because they always look up at you…unless of course, you’re MY children, where they simply say…”probably?” without even glancing my way! So this brings me to my next tip…keep your material fresh…kids are the hardest audience to win over!