Taking photos of children is not an easy deal due to the fact that they are always on the run. Children always jump and spin fast, so you should have a ready wit and be very patient.
The main peculiarity of taking photos of kids is that you should catch the moment when they are not looking at you but playing with passion and discover the world. Moreover, many children are shy and they can't demonstrate their emotions and feelings at the request. So, use the photo camera when children take care of themselves and you'll take natural and sincere photos.
And remember that this tender child standing in front of you will soon become an adult, so try to catch precious moments of life of this little human.
And you shouldn't think that baby-boys and girls are too little for strong feelings and they have nothing to show in front of a camera. Kids are always pure and touching and our today's collection of photos of children in love is the striking proof of this statement.
We celebrated a 6th birthday here recently and, of course, one of the aims of the day was to get some nice photographs. But how does one go about getting good birthday photos? Well, here free of charge, are ten tips for you:
1. Have a designated photographer (or two). Get someone who is not in charge of putting the candles on the cake, keeping the dog away from the kids, paying the magician, and keeping track of which present came from which child, to keep a camera in their hands and use it often during the party. If you can get two people even better. If there are specific moments you know you want shots of let your designated photographers know what they are before the party starts.
2. Start early. The party preparation can make for some great photos too, especially if the kids are helping set up or if a family member is baking the cake.
3. Get the light right. If you're having the party indoors try and arrange key moments like blowing out the candles and opening presents to be in an area with good lighting. Forward planning is the key here, set up the table and chair for the birthday child's shining cake moment before the party in area where you know there is good light.
4. Practice. If you're having the party in your own home practice taking shots inside before the party and get the settings on your camera the way you want them. Then either leave the settings as they are or write them down so you'll remember them when the time comes.
5. Shoot continuously. Kids move fast. And pretty much constantly. This is even more true when sugar and the excitement of a party are involved. Your best bet is to put your camera in continuous shooting mode and let the memory card fill up!
6. Don't just photograph the people. The cake is an obvious feature you may also want to photograph. The set up of the party area before the kids get at it, the pile of presents, the balloons, and all sorts of other little festive details make for a great addition to the birthday photo album. Especially if it's a themed birthday party.
7. Photograph the birthday child looking their best. That is, before the cake is smeared on their party clothes and the face paint has gotten smudged. A little while before the party starts get the child all dressed up in their party clothes and then take a photo, preferably outside, before they have a chance to get dirty and too hyper. A crown or birthday hat are also a nice touch to these kind of shots. You may also consider starting a tradition of photographing the child in the same spot each year on their birthday.
8. Get on your hands and knees. Kids tend to be short so get down on their level to get photos of the action that include more than the tops of their heads.
9. Photograph the friends. Try and get a group shot of everyone together, let them make silly faces or wave streamers to keep it fun. These photos make good thank-you cards to send out to everyone later.
10. Let the kids have a shot. Buy some disposable cameras and let the kids have at them. You'll get some really interesting photos from a totally different perspective!
If you get it right photographing your children can produce pictures you'll want to treasure for years to come, whether it's snaps of their tenth birthday displayed in a professional coffee table book or the embarrassing shot of Timmy wearing his underpants on his head that you choose to keep lovingly displayed where all your visitors can see it. But it can be a frustrating process, children are rarely still for any length of time and as they get older often get either camera-shy or obsessed with making that face that involves rolling their eyes back into their head and sticking out their tongue.
If you've got little ones you want to photograph here are a few tips to help you avoid those blurry, monster-face shots being the only thing in your memory book.
1. Make it fun. This is the golden rule of photographing little ones. If you want to have photographs of your children having fun, smiling, looking happy and adorable then you will need to let them have fun while you're photographing them. Standing still for ages while you tell them how to pose is unlikely to appeal to them as fun. If you want posed shots make a game out of it, encourage your little one to dress up in different outfits and play model, let them make up some poses of their own too. If you don't want posed shots let them engage in their favourite activity while you photograph them. Make it easier for you to get good shots by setting up the activity outside in good light if possible. For example if your child is an avid finger painter set them up with their paint and paper outside on a sunny morning or evening (when the light is generally better for photography than the middle of the day).
2. For toddlers and pre-schoolers, especially several of them, you may have difficulty keeping them in one place. One option is to put them in a small space, for example a laundry basket:
It sounds ridiculous but the kids will view it as a game and you'll have them one spot for 5 minutes!
3. Get down to their level. If you photograph from your height chances are most of your shots will show not much more than the top of their heads and make them look really short. Get down on their level and photograph them there. Having said that, there is of course an exception to the rule. If you're photographing a small child standing directly above them and having them look up at you it can make a nice composition. Just make sure the eyes are in focus.
4. Take lots and lots of shots. Often what you think will be an outtake will be an instant favourite and what you think will be the best shot of the day will end up being deleted. If you have a digital camera there's no reason not to take a lot of photographs and have plenty to choose from, just make sure you do go through and delete some or your hard drive will soon be overflowing! And remember to be patient, the photo you're really hoping to get may be the 150th photo of the day not the first.
5. Focus on the details. Of course you're going to want whole body shots and close up face portraits of your child but as your little one grows to be not so little you may find that you appreciate shots of those little fingers and toes, eyes and ears. Get up close and personal and photograph the details of your little one.
6. For the camera shy child choose a location they are comfortable and familiar with so they won't be upset by their surroundings as well as the camera. Let them get into an activity before you start photographing and don't get too close. If you have a child who seems to be permanently camera-shy you may want to invest in a zoom lens so you can photograph them from a bit of a distance. Try and stay away from instructing camera-shy youngsters to "look at the camera!" or "smile!" Similarly if your child always pulls silly faces for the camera play down the cameras presence and try to photograph them when they're engaged in something else or from a slight distance.
7. When your subject is racing around wildly try putting your camera in sports or action mode, if you're using the automatic settings. If you're going manual turn on continuous shooting, choose a reasonably high ISO and a fast shutter speed. Make sure your batteries are charged, there's plenty of space on your memory card and you have the lens you want on the camera. You'll miss the action if you have to mess around changing batteries, memory cards, and lenses.
8. As your little one turns into a not so little one don't stop photographing! As your baby turns into a teenager they may be less enthusiastic about having their photo taken but chances are you'll both want some memories of this period of their life in ten years time. They're also now at an age where they can have fun modeling for you. Let them choose the location and spend an hour together taking some photos, encourage them to bring along some of their close friends - in a few years time they'll be trying to remember who their best friend was when they were 12.
9. Don't forget the everyday. Photograph in the places you visit everyday, record the moments that make up the routine of your day-to-day life. Think about the composition a little bit and you'll probably find that photographing the everyday from the right angle makes an artistic picture, and they'll be some of your favourite photos years from now when you've forgotten what life was like when Timmy was only two.
10. Look for inspiration. Look on Flickr, look at photos of your friends kids, look through photography books at the local library. There's nothing wrong with seeing a photo someone else has taken of a child and trying that pose/location/idea with your own child. Just don't take the credit for the idea yourself!
And if you have any tips for getting good photographs of children please share with the rest of us in the comments.
One of my day jobs involves working with special needs children and children in hospital. I do a lot of work with children on the autistic spectrum and children with learning difficulties, as well as with at-risk youth and kids with chronic illnesses. One of my absolute favourite things to do is introduce these children to photography. Not only do I enjoy sharing my passion but for a lot of the children I work with it is a unique way for them to express some creativity.
Introducing your children to photography, whether they have extra needs or not, is a great way to encourage creativity and decision-making and can give you a new activity to share with your whole family. But how do you go about introducing children to the camera? Here are a few ideas to get you started (these tips are aimed for children from about 3 to 8 years old):
1. Don’t rush out and buy a new camera for your child’s first attempt. You’ve probably got an old camera somewhere, it doesn’t matter if it’s a film camera or an early digital camera with 2 MP, as long as it works it’ll do. If your child shows interest for more than a week or so then the chances are a new camera just for him will be used and appreciated (check out John’s post for ideas on which camera to buy). If the old camera is lying underneath that never-opened board game and once-used pair of roller blades from last Christmas, then it's probably best to wait a few months and try again. Even if you just use an old camera and end up abandoning the project don’t forget to teach your child how to care for the camera (keep it switched off in it’s case when not in use, don’t touch the lens, use the wrist/neck strap) but don’t freak him out by telling him it’s really expensive and he better be careful. A better idea is not to equip him with a camera you’ll be angry about if it does get damaged.
2. Get back to basics. You might know about f-stop numbers, aperture, and depth of field but your child probably doesn't even know how to hold a camera correctly. Start simple. Show her how to hold the camera so a blurry finger won't appear in every shot. Explain how to open/close the shutter (or use the lens cap if the camera has one) and use the view finder and LCD screen. If your child is under 6 this is probably enough information, any more and they'll tune out and be bored before they start. For older kids a quick explanation of the flash and zoom features can be included.
3. For their first foray into photography just let them go ahead and shoot. This will allow them to get familiar with the camera and also to take photos of the things they think are important (often toys, pets, and their bedroom will feature prominently) rather than things you tell them would look nice in a photo. A digital camera has the advantage of allowing a child to see the photos right away and removes the cost of processing film. But many children enjoy taking the film to a photo lab and then holding real photos in their hands (it often feels more like they’ve created something if they can hold it), so don’t be afraid to try a film camera. If you go with a digital camera put a small memory card in so that they’re limited to 20 or 30 shots (equivalent to one roll of film).
4. When you have plenty of time to sit down with your child, get the photos and look through them with him. Before you say anything remember that photography (like all art) is subjective. Just because it’s not what you would have done doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Try and find something positive to say, even if he’s taken 25 photos of a matchbox car. If he has taken lots of photos of the same thing, as him if he wished he’d had more film/memory so he could photograph some other things too. If the answer is yes it’s a good time to discuss decision-making and using limited resources (don't just hand him a larger memory card, try and encourage him to be selective about what he photographs. Then later if he's taking 25 photos of different things or using different perspectives and still feels he needs more shots you can give him the larger card to work with). And if he says no, at least you know those matchbox cars are really important to him!
5. Get some books or find some child-friendly web sites that showcase photography. Or better yet find a local photography exhibit or gallery and take a trip to see finished, framed photos. Try and look at a variety of different styles with you child and discuss which ones you and she like and dislike. Then discuss some of the different techniques used (tailor the language and detail to your child’s age level and attention span) and point out things like the angle, focus, distance, and framing.
6. Plan a photography outing either as a family, with friends, or just you and your child. You don’t have to go far, the beach, a playground, a hiking trail, or the zoo are all good places to try (although if you choose the beach be wary of cameras and water!). Encourage your child to photograph different things, landscapes, people, animals, and from different perspectives. Set and example yourself by photographing a variety of scenes and getting down on your knees or standing on a bench to try different angles. Most importantly, have fun and don’t forget to let you child share her finished photos with other people (her friends, grandparents, etc).
7. Remember not rush this. If you really want your child to enjoy photography and be able to express himself though it then it needs to be an ongoing process. Trying to cram the whole learning experience into one day isn't going to work. This is something you can re-visit and build on as he grows older and can learn new skills and techniques. And don't forget all kids go through phases so if the camera sits unused for a few weeks or months don't try to force him to use it, instead plan another photography outing for a time when you think he might be ready to try again (try going somewhere you haven't been for a while so he has new things to photograph). Or encourage him to use his previous photos in an art project, or make an album with them, seeing his work might remind him how much fun he had and prompt him to pick up the camera again.
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