You are facing one of the most risky situations that you or your photographic team are going to face. You’ll see your physical and mental integrity exposed at every moment, you’ll drag yourself across sandbanks between shovels and threatening rakes, you’ll stumble upon pieces of layman, screaming dolls, you’ll leave your precious camera on top of a piece of chewed biscuit, or somewhere less than a meter and … Zas! on the floor.
You’ll see that face, that emotion, that gesture, that look that no one knows better than you, that no one knows how to immortalize better, you’ll grab your battered camera and full of chewed cookie, and you’ll return to this work as full of danger as it is absolutely fascinating and wonderful to photograph children.
And since you risk your physical integrity and that of that precious camera that cost you so much effort to obtain … At least it is to obtain wonderful images of those small, imaginative, fascinating souls that are children. To do this, we go with a few tricks and tips to photograph them with great results.
Get Inspired Before You Begin
If you’re tired or tired of always making the same images, if you don’t find inspiration wherever you go, I recommend two options:
Analyze your images, what have the ones you like and what are missing or surplus to those who do not? What do you want to achieve? Analyze it, interiorize it and once you have it clear, go out and look for it.
Look for inspiration in others. There are many online photo galleries of children’s photography, and a lot of information on the net. I’m sure some image fascinates you and motivates you to try something similar.
Choose Appropriate Scenarios
Whenever you can, look for places where children know they’re going to have a good time and also provide you with a photogenic environment: The forest in autumn with its millions of coloured leaves scattered on the ground, a field in spring full of flowers, a path full of puddles and good red water boots (Watch out for the camera!), the beach or the river in summer and so on.
Study The Location Of The Session
Preparing and knowing the place before you start taking pictures of children will help you know the best places to have a good lighting, the best backgrounds, and the different possibilities. So if you don’t know him before, before you start portraying the kids, take a look at him and plan the best scenarios.
Find the place and time with the best lighting. Make sure you have enough light (if not you can open the diaphragm, increase the ISO or use the flash).
Keep an eye on the background; remember that it should complement the action, the story, but not distract attention from the main motif of the image. If nothing is added, close the frame or open the diaphragm to defocus it.
Choose The Appropriate Shooting Mode
Depending on the situation and the results you want to obtain, you will have to choose between the different modes provided by the camera. Children’s photography is pure action photography, a good option is the speed priority mode, in which you choose a minimum speed in which you ensure that your images and your protagonists will not be moved.
Shoot In Burst
It is not superfluous to configure the camera to be able to shoot in burst, especially if you foresee an accelerated and uncontrolled session in the open air.
During The Session
You have to look people in the eye, in the mirror of the soul, and children are not going to be any less, right? We always emphasize the importance of the eyes in any portrait, the important thing is to focus them well unless you consciously want a different result. Since they are naturally lower than us (for the moment), the only way to frame them with a normal point of view is by crouching, throwing yourself to the ground, squatting or whatever you can think of so that your target and their eyes are at the same height.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t use other angles, the minced images, counter-pictured images, zenithals, etc. will also give you other interesting points of view.
Don’T Make Them Pose
There will be someone that you can make pose more than a minute with good results, although it is not usually the norm, especially in the smallest and most restless. So the best option is to let them unwrap themselves, let them play and have fun, the images will be a thousand times better than if you force them to pose, to make strange faces or forced smiles.
Not Only Smiles
Although children’s smiles are some of the most magical and photogenic things that exist, you should not limit yourself to showing just one part, a bias of their character. Don’t limit yourself to looking for the smile, look also for everything that is part of them, the crying, the concentration, the eyes exorbitant with emotion. These images say as much as her smile, and they complement her and make you get a complete portrait of her fascinating personality.
Plan And Un-Plan
If you had planned something before starting the session, by now you will have realized that nothing is going as you wanted. Don’t despair, planning a session with children is almost like wanting to plan a rain session. But that’s not why you’re going to stop getting wonderful and spontaneous images, you just need a little patience, perseverance and desire to have a good time.
Anticipate And Move Quickly
If you want to get good images of children, I can make sure you don’t still get them, so move around, stand up, squat, lie on the floor, come closer, move away, focus, wait for the right moment, and repeat as many times as you need to be satisfied with the result. Little by little and with practice you will learn to anticipate certain situations and make the most of them.
Try different shots and don’t forget the close-ups and details, which are the ones that will allow you to highlight and focus attention on his gaze or the gestures on his face.
Take Care Of The Composition
Yes, I know that it is enough to try to obtain a single unmoving image of your children, an image of the face and not of the child’s back running in the opposite direction to you when catching their ball… But taking care of the composition is still as important as ever. Think that once you have the image in front of you you can do it not so well or, for a little more effort, (I move the camera slightly to the right, to the left, up or down, down, I look for the third, I don’t look for it because I don’t like it, I’m a breaker, I’m classic…) you can have a great image. It’s the last and decisive step, a little obturator touch and Voilà!
A child photography session in which you are alone at the mercy of the children becomes something complicated. If you have to watch over them and try to immortalize great moments, things can get complicated. So the best thing is to use someone to keep an eye on them, distracted and, if possible, funny. While you devote yourself exclusively to chasing them with the camera trying not to intrude and go as unnoticed as possible.
Since to a greater or lesser extent we are all social series by nature, do not forget to photograph the boy or girl, whenever you have the opportunity, with the people around him. The complicit glances between two children, between them and their parents, grandparents, etc. will provide you with precious images. Especially when they have forgotten that you are there and give you the essence of that magical moment.
Tell A Story
Try to go beyond a beautiful image, try to express something else, tell the story of an emotion and a unique and unrepeatable moment. Make that the one who looks at your image can follow the threads as if he were reading the page of a novel or a book of stories. You can do it in one image or in several, the important thing is that they transmit your version of the story.
Take Some Treasure To Surprise Them
It usually works well to take a little detail that encourages them to play and that is also photogenic, balloons, soap bubbles, costumes, streamers … Whatever comes to mind. In this way you will be able to anticipate those moments of emotion that follow the initial surprise and while they are distracted and fascinated with their new treasure, you can start photographing with relative tranquility.
After The Session
Take a deep breath and plug the memory card into your computer, and you’ll probably have more wonderful images than you expected. If the kids had a good time, I bet you did, too. And most importantly, I’m sure your images are 100% reflective.
Make A Good Selection And Erase The Rest
It costs, but with time you will thank, surely you have many similar images, be selective, you do not need images of every second of his life. You’re not gonna be a worse mother or father or person in general because of it.
Protect Their Privacy
We all like to see and share the goodness of our children with the world, the problem is that rarely do we take care of the amount of people who will have real access to those images. So think carefully about what material you’re going to hang on the net before you do it.
- Do not publish images of children naked or with very little clothing.
- Don’t publish images of your children in easily recognizable places (name of the school, name of your street…)
- No images that can publicly humiliate them. Don’t do to them what you’d like them to do to you, you don’t want to see it shared a million times all over the planet, do you?
- Never hang RAW files from images, it’s like giving a film negative to a stranger.
And very important, if they are not your children or the children of relatives and friends of whom you have their consent:
Ask Permission To Take The Photograph
If you’re going to publish them you’ll need (or I recommend) always have written parental permission, you can find forms online.
And lastly… keep the camera in places with a height of more than fifty meters.
If you are lucky enough to have the best model in tiny version at home for your use and enjoyment, congratulations, you are going to learn and enjoy infinitely. If not, your friends, cousins and everyone around you with a child will be happy to lend it to you for a good photo shoot. So take advantage of the opportunities you have nearby, because what they say about growing very fast is a tremendous truth.
Each moment that passes is unique and unrepeatable, and with children it is even more true if possible. So let yourself be infected with imagination, purity, savagery in a pure state, put on comfortable footwear, some stretching … And so on! Luck be with you.