Children’s photography is both challenging and enjoyable. What makes it challenging is that children aren’t happy all the time, never take instruction well and are hardly ever concerned about their personal appearance. (Think food on the face, boogers or mud.)What makes children’s photography so enjoyable is that it demands you slow down and live in the present moment. You have to be interested in your child (they insist on this) you have to cater to them (they also insist on this) and you must be open to the possibilities and the story that your child is telling right there in front of you. Here are three practical tips to train your eye and your heart so that you will make better (and yes even really great) pictures of your children.
Tip #1 Slow Down (way down) Children live in the present moment. When a child is happy? She is happy. When a child is sad? She is sad. If you’re taking photographing a child, it’s important to remember to slow down your speed of thinking and moving in order to be in step with your child. It’s a zen thing. And, get this, it really works when if you’re the parent. You know your child’s moods better than anyone. You know when they’re tired, playful or bored. Slowing down and ‘knowing’ your child is your ace in the hole when it comes to getting great pictures of your children.
Tip #2 Get On Their Level A real effort must be made to get on their level. If you’re photographing with a portrait lens or a wide angle, a great way to do this is to drop down to one knee. Another great way to do this is to increase the space between you and your camera and the child, typically with a longer lens. Really good pictures of your children can be achieved both at eye level with them or by using a longer lens.
Tip #3 Talk To Them, Not At Them This is one mistake I see more than any others by parents. It’s tempting to tell your child to sit for a picture i.e. “Go over there by your grandma and smile.” Now that may be an important picture for Grandmother, but let’s just change the wording and the dynamic for a second. What if you said, “Do you want to play a board game with Grandma? I will make a “special treat” and a take a couple of photographs while you play. How does that sound?” I guarantee the change in wording and tone will improve your photographs. Try it and see.