Five Tips for Photographing Children

We are happy to share the second in Snapblog series on photographing children at different stages of their lives. Last week we shared some tips on photographing infants, today we has some tips on taking photos of children and on Tuesday we will bring you more tips on photographing teenagers.

Photo credit: Mike Baird on Flickr Creative Commons

Capturing the joy, abandon, and innocence of childhood in a photograph can be challenging. Our desire for the preservation of the memory of this fleeting time in our children’s lives is far removed from the dreaded elementary school or department store photographs we were subjected to as youngsters. Yet the idea of chasing them around, trying to get them to stand still, and trying to get them to cooperate with a photo session may be too tiring to contemplate. Here are a handful of tips to help you capture great photographs of children, from toddlers to pre-teens.

One – Let your photo shoot be secondary to what the kids are doing. Put a long lens on your camera (for instance a 55-300mm telephoto) and take candid shots of the children from afar, as they play or interact with their environment. It is far more desirable to photograph them moving naturally, rather than sitting stiffly with a grimace on their face. Make the most of bright sunlight and a fast shutter speed to “stop” their action in mid-motion.

Photo credit: Angie Garrett on Flickr Creative Commons

Two – Shoot in continuous, or “burst” mode. When shooting children, or any action shot, set the camera to “High Speed Continuous” mode, so that pressing and holding down the shutter will capture a series of shots until the shutter button is released. This method of shooting has two benefits: first, it ensures that at least some shots will be in-focus, appropriately exposed, and well composed. There is a better chance of getting “the” shot if there are a lot of shots. Second, it creates a series of shots that can be arranged in a group to show the child in action.

Three – Become as tall (or as short) as they are. Photograph the child from the child’s perspective, instead of from high above them. Even shoot from below the child looking upward – when you’re photographing kids you can’t be afraid to get down on your hands and knees! It’s also fun to bring the child up to your height – have them sit or stand on a picnic table or rock, or low tree branch. Just keep their safety in mind!

Photo credit: Lisa M Photography on Flickr Creative Commons

Four – Use a shallow depth of field. Shoot at f/5.6 to begin with, and if you are shooting even closer to get fine detail – perhaps the face fills the entire frame, or you’re capturing specific features – use an even shallower depth of field. A 50mm f/1.4 lens creates beautiful bokeh (background blur) and softens the light quality for a lovely effect.

Five – Encourage participation. Ask the child what they would like to have photographed. Perhaps the child has a favorite activity that they’d like a picture of them doing. Maybe he or she has a favorite outfit or hat, baseball glove or stuffed animal. Don’t forget that just as the photographs are for the child’s parents, they’re for the child as well. Taking the child’s priorities into consideration when photographing them will create within the child a whole new level of enthusiasm for your efforts.