Let’s face it, photographing children and preserving their cute activities into well thought frames that will make you smile and have them delighted when they are older, has never been effortless.
Thank God for smartphones and selfies though, for they have made this task a lot easier, as many kids I observe nowadays feel much at ease with a camera pointed at them. Even so, they can still be a challenge if you would want them to act upon “your” wish or sit in one place and give you a “posed” natural smile, long enough to get the perfect shot. First, that is plain boring for them AND to look at. Second, that is so not the idea of preserving childhood, right?
Below are a number of awesome tips from some great children photographers to end your perplexity and to share with you a few of their tricks to spend less and earn more – in terms of quality.
STYLIZED PHOTO SHOOT
In our post “Cheap Photography Hacks to Save Money” we discussed about the exciting ways you can make replicas of the high end equipment you find in proper studios. If you have gone through it already, you will know how efficiently you can use that knowledge here and create studio like photographs within your home without spending tons!
Find a space in your house where you can set up props and the diy-ed equipment. It does not necessarily have to be huge, you can still get wonderful photos while working in a compact area. You should be able to know your camera settings well, catch the best light from the windows, and most importantly, you don’t even need to buy the props, you can totally build them out of the regular things you find laying around your house.
WINDOWS TO THE SOUL
People often fuss over getting the kids to smile in the pictures. While a smile can make someone’s day and a foolproof option it is, EYES are the most prominent part of our being which is why we call them the windows into a person’s soul, if you concentrate on capturing them in the right way, you will surely have a collection of extra stunning photos – smile or no smile.
Heather Swanner, a photographer who has mastered this art – you can see some of the crystal like eyes she has captured, on “It’s all about the eyes” – has some words of wisdom to share with us all.
“...I put my subject in the shade (like under an overhang or a tree) while I stand outside of the shaded area and take the picture (meaning that I am often standing in the sun while I take the picture). The area behind me is well-lit and provides a lot of light that bounces back and is reflected in the subjects’ eyes. A big mistake I see photographers make is going too far into the shade to take pictures. If your subject is shaded and you (the photographer) are shaded, then there may not be enough light to be reflected in your subject’s eyes (if you are shooting with natural light). So take a step back, put on your SPF 30, and get out of the shade to take the picture… Keep in mind that you don’t want your subject to face the sun in this set up, it’s better for your light source to be behind your subject…”
LET IT BE MOMENTOUS
“Say Cheese!” DON’T. Most hateful it is in the sight of accomplished photographers to hear people utter this downright dreaded phrase. Reason is, no one particularly enjoys looking at a picture that has little people smiling feebly and appear as if they would rather be doing something else if you hadn’t bribed them, or worse, had commanded them sternly to do so. What’s the use of such pictures?
So to make these photo shoots memorable for the children as well as yourself, be fun and silly around them, let them do what they want to and capture them in their natural self. Make certain the kids have a good time. Moments full of enjoyment and excitement will ensure that you steal those precious shots you had planned.
ALL ABOUT PORTRAITS… *NOT!*
It’s not ALL about portraits, smiles, eyes and all that. “Details” about the child’s lifestyle can lead to a bunch of very interesting images as well. Merely the things that the kid does during the day. In this case you even have full liberty to experiment from various positions and not be in the child’s way. Also, you won’t have to worry about them running away from you, because now you won’t be in any way asking them to look here and there. All you have to do is stay quiet, observe from a distance and be patient, and you’ll get a moment that is worth capturing.
TODDLERS AT REST
Toddlers become restless if you try to make them sit at one place for even 5 whole minutes. It’s natural for them to want to roll, run, touch here, go there and they have a thing for constantly looking around.
In this regard, Autumn from itsalwaysautumn.com shares some charming ways to get those adorable eyes to concentrate earnestly on you!
“…Grab a bunny ear headband from the dollar store at Easter (or a Shamrock one at St Patty’s, etc) and pop it on your head when the child’s not looking. Then keep asking them what’s on your head and how it got there. They’ll stare right at you, and probably laugh. I’ve even tied bells to my wrist and jingled them up by my camera to get a little one to look.
Also, move around a bit while you talk to the child, stand up, sit down, lean to the left or right. Your motion will naturally draw her eyes toward you, and you’ll be able to get photos from a variety of angles…”
– As said by Autumn
TIME AND SPACE
Give the kid time and space to open up to you. Practice patience, these sessions demand bonding and working together.
Sing songs and poems in front of them, ask them if they know some too or invite them to sing along, play with them for a while and let them run the show. Discuss their friends, ask them about their favorite teacher, what do they like to do in recess.
Talking about their favorite movies and characters (such as Elsa, Anna and Olaf – hot favorite for all, these days) does really good to open them up. Have them show off their acting skills while pretending they are Elsa, in the girls case, but the same method applies for boys too. Do some silly acting yourself, that usually wins some genuine giggles! But, don’t miss out on the shot!
IT GOES TWO WAYS
You definitely do most preparations on your own, if you have a certain theme in mind you want to carry out, but you must give the child some liberty of choosing too. Props, themes, outfit and location are the common things to be considered prior to the shoot. If the kids are old enough, it will be best to consult with them about how they want this experience to be. If you follow this step, you will not have to worry about getting them at ease later, as you already made them feel like it’s THEIR day. Also take note of the time when they are their most cheerful self. This way, you have made this whole thing a piece of cake!
If your props are anything like the one in this picture, you will definitely need an assistant. They will prove to be very helpful when the “prop” tries to wiggle out of the kid’s hands, or you can imagine what else such props are capable of doing. No elaboration needed!
Take small breaks every now and then so that the kids don’t get bored with the same thing going on for hours, which can make anything utterly dull. Have it either for quick snacks or just whatever they want to do. This can also serve as an advantage, for you can have those small talks and playful stuff we discussed about earlier in the post. Or you can get away and click photos of them with your zoom lens from a hidden place!
But you know what’s BEST you can do in breaks? Leave them alone.
BONUS TIP 1:
GOT A LITTLE ONE AROUND?
Who doesn’t enjoy teaching kids – even when they seem to be getting bored with all the “tedious lectures”, as they usually appear to them – we all love dropping some of those “lessons” on them from time to time. Being an aunt of adorable nieces, I am writing with experience that kids want FUN elements included in just about everything they do!
Therefore to transfer your photography skills to the little ones in a totally entertaining and enjoyable manner Courtney Slazinik has come up with the idea of turning “training” into “playful activities” that they can perform and learn from.
She has sectioned them in two categories,
- Photography for kids, ages 3-5, where the activities include, Learn their colors, Starts with… and Their name.
- Photography for kids, ages 6-10, comprises of Skill building, Story time, Scavenger Hunt and ABC’s, along with an introduction to some of the basic rules.
To find out more about this cool way of teaching photography to your kids, visit clickitupanotch.com!
BONUS TIP 2:
ONE TOO MANY DRAWINGS?
Use your Photoshop skills and layer those drawings over their photos!
For the step by step tutorial visit: http://elementaryartfun.blogspot.com
That’s all folks! Hope this post proved to be helpful.
Photographing children is one surefire way to spend a day full of bliss. That is if you manage to pull all these tricks off!