Seven “C”s for Photographing Children
“Every child comes with the message that
God is not yet discouraged of man.” R. Tagore
Whether you’re a parent, grandparent or friend; amateur or pro, chances are you’ll find yourself working to present someone’s precious child (or your own) in the best possible light. Here are some simple suggestions to insure that you make the most of what can sometimes be a challenging photo opportunity.
This is one of my favorite photos of my favorite kid, our granddaughter Elisabeth. Beyond her being the most beautiful child ever born (me, prejudiced???), I think it’s a good example of how important color can be in creating a “keeper” photograph. If you’re shooting someone else’s child, suggest ever so nicely that they choose colors that flatter the child but also show well, such as the primary colors of the color wheel.
2. CAPTURING LIGHT
Like all photography, light is especially important when photographing babies and young children. Georgia, my friend’s granddaughter, was only a few weeks old when I shot this photo so flash was not an option. Using a fast, high-quality lens is critical, as is positioning so that natural light falls softly on the subject. In these conditions, black & white can be a lovely option vs the colors suggested above.
Remember when you were a kid? Did you like to pose for photos? Sure you did, and you had one of those awful fake smiles that you used every time. Get creative with props, location, games – anything that will move the child’s attention away from you and on to the things they love to do. Your photos will be much the better for it.
4. CROUCH DOWN !
Children, you may have noticed, are shorter than we are. Once they’ve become comfortable with you and your camera, get down to their level and show them from the perspective with which they see the world. You’ll be glad you did.
5. CAPTURE CONTEMPLATION
In real life, children are not always smiling. Mixed in with happier shots, capturing and reflecting other emotions can be a powerful tool for showing the breadth of their personalities.
6. CLOSE IN
There are lots of ways to capture photos of adorable children. My favorite choice is to get as close as possible without making the child uncomfortable. A good zoom lens such as my trusty Nikkor 70-200mm zoom lets me shoot wonderful portraits without infringing on the subject’s personal space. With today’s technology, even point-and-shoots can give you enough range to shoot close-ups from a bit further away.
7. CATCH SOME MOTION
Kids are always moving. Do your best to capture them while they’re at it! If your camera supports it, shoot at a higher ISO and/or use Shutter Speed mode to be sure you capture motion without blur (unless you WANT blur, which you can create using slower speeds). They’ll be busy concentrating on what they’re doing and you’ll be free to shoot away without bothering them.
- The Sunflower Kid: Nikon D/50, Nikkor 70-200mm lens @105mm, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/30
- Sweet Dreamer: Nikon D/50, Nikkor 70-200mm lens @105mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/50
- Getting Silly: Nikon D/300s, Nikkor 18-200mm lens@ 28mm, ISO 400, f/10, 1/20
- Happy Family: Nikon D/300s, Nikkor 18-200mm lens @ 55mm, ISO 500, f/9, 1/125
- Unhappily Handsome: Nikon D/300s, Nikkor 18-200mm lens @82mm, ISO 800, f/11, 1/60
- All Wrapped Up: Nikon D/50, Nikkor 70-200mm lens @ 105mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/60
- Score!: Nikon D/80, Nikkor 70-200mm lens @200mm, ISO 125, f/4, 1/1000