So you love children you say. You also love taking pictures. You would be thrilled if you could incorporate your love of both children and photography into a rewarding, money-making business. Well, it is possible and you can make money and be rewarded all at the same time! Keep in mind that photographing children (especially those at a young age) is no easy task. If you don’t love kids, they’re going to know the minute you point the camera at them making it almost impossible to get that "perfect shot".
Tips to help are: The techniques used in most other fields of photography do not always apply in child photography. The phrase "hold it" or "freeze" carry very little weight with children. They typically do as they please and if they please. Your assignment is to anticipate what a child may be about to do and capture it.
As children will not always cooperate with what you want, you need to use your imagination to get them to be at their best. Use their behavior to your advantage. If a child is being uncooperative, try telling him to do the opposite of what you want, expecting him to try to thwart your plans. There is nothing wrong with tricking a child as long as you get the shots you need.
Image courtesy of SXC
Before even beginning a photo session with a child (or children), you have some work to do.
First, you need to make sure you know your camera inside and out. You then need to know what role you play in getting the best pictures possible. The child or children you are photographing will require 100% of your undivided attention- you have to ask yourself if you’re capable of delivering that. You won’t have any opportunities for wasted time- a child won’t stand for it. They have very little attention spans and what they do have, they will be watching you to see that you are focused on them at all times. If you try and get the pictures as fast as possible, that won’t work either; the key for that all important photograph is getting the child’s cooperation.
Know your subjects – With children, you must expect the unexpected. At different ages children are capable of doing different things. The more you know what they typically do during some of these stages, the better images you are going to capture. And the happier you make your clients – which, in turn, makes you financially happy.
Image courtesy of SXC
Unlike most other fields in photography, when taking pictures of children, you can expect to obtain a wide variety of poses, expressions, and behaviour during the session. Be aware of different age groups: a 4-month-old baby will act differently that a 14-month-old one will. Learn how children of different ages respond. The more equipped you are to handle children of varying ages, the better pictures you will get.
Listening to the parent can help toward a successful session. You can learn specific things about their child that will make it or break it:
- Are they afraid of certain things or sounds?
- What are their special likes? Do they like books?
- How comfortable are they with a stranger approaching them?
You do NOT want to spook a little one; the scheduled time may not allow for you to win their confidence.
Image courtesy of SXC
Make sure your camera is at the ready at all times- with children, you likely won’t get a second chance to capture something they did unexpectedly.
Forget about the use of a tripod in a photo session with a child- it will only get in the way especially as things start to happen quickly. Make sure your camera is on a fast shutter speed (to prevent blurring) at all times; you never know what a child is going to do next and you must be ready to capture it no matter what.
When photographing children, there is no need to take the standard picture (unless you are asked to do so by the parents). Be as creative as possible; photograph them on a horse, coming down the slide in a park, running after a ball. There are so many possibilities!
The more experience you gain taking pictures of children the more you will know what works best for each child and each situation.
There is no question that photographing children is a challenge. And just when you might start to feel comfortable doing it, along comes a new challenge – multiple subjects. Dealing with twins, triplets, etc. will really test your skills as child photographer! But don’t worry, this is part of the job and over time you will learn tricks to keeping all your subjects engaged.
Parents can be quite helpful during the photo session. Children often are more confident with a parent nearby. Also, do not overlook the value of older brother and sisters. They have a relationship with the little one like no one else! Often they can get their little brother or sister to giggle, make faces, hold things and a host of other things that may be exactly what you need.
Plus, you have the opportunity of including more subjects in the photos, which translates into a larger photo package for the customer!
Image courtesy of Photoxpress
As you advance in child photography you will want a lighting setup and a backdrop. A three light setup – consisting of a main light fill light and a background light – is ideal. However if you are just beginning you can do great photography with a lot less.
Experiment, and add as needed. If you are using a backdrop keep the child at least four feet from the backdrop (if possible). This eliminates shadows and prevents the backdrop from competing with your subject.
The more advanced you become as a child photographer, you will need to include both a lighting set-up and backdrop in the pictures. Typically, a three-light set-up (consisting of a main light and back light) are the best way to go.
If you are still a novice photographer, you can still take quality photos with less. You can experiment as you go, trying out what works best to eliminate certain things such as shadows [if using a backdrop].
Be creative when photographing children: go to the beach, the park, or the backyard.
There is no rule that says you are required to stay in the studio. Taking photographs outside eliminates the need for lighting; as long as you choose open shade, nature will do the work for you. Finally, keep a variety of items on hand to further capture the interest of the child or children you are photographing. Depending on the age of the child, toys, stuffed animals, snacks, hats, mirrors and dolls are just a few of the items that can a go a very long way in keeping the child’s interest. Use your imagination, the possibilities are endless.