A Beginner’s Guide to Photographing ChildrenGary
1. Shooting at Home
Taking pictures at home, rather than in a professional studio, has become popular in recent years. Your home is a much more natural environment for children, as it instantly puts them at ease.
Start by moving the couch out of the living room to create an area big enough for the shoot.
If possible setup a grey seamless paper roll on a stand to create a neutral background, or failing that use an uncluttered wall for more environmental portraits.
Window lighting provides beautiful natural, directional light that you can utilise during the shoot.
White ceiling and walls are perfect for bounce flash – if they’re a different colour, use a white sheet.
Most importantly, make people feel comfortable at home. Don’t make too many changes to their natural environment.
2. Kids are Impatient
Make sure that you perfect the setup first before bringing in the kids – they’ll quickly lose patience with you if you’re not ready.
Use faster, longer lenses to defocus the background – a fast 85mm lens is great for portraits, but the long end of the standard zoom that came with your interchangeable lens camera is also good.
Position your subjects at least 6 feet in front of the background, in order to defocus background and to drop shadows behind them.
3. Using Flash
Use a flashgun to help freeze children’s movements.
Bounce the flash off the ceiling to increase the lighting sweet spot – setting the shutter speed to 1/25th sec and the aperture to f/4 is a good starting point.
Invest in a flashgun that can be tilted towards both walls and ceilings.
4. Over Here!
Try and attract the attention of kids in a natural way – talking doesn’t always work!
Try lighting a match (never fails), or use a mobile ringtone to make them look in your direction.
Failing that, draft in Mum and Dad to help, or their favourite toys.
Limit distractions – don’t have too many assistants! Shoot kids on your own if you can, or with a maximum of one parent. Too many people in the room will be a hindrance rather than a help.
Remember, you don’t always need to get children to look directly into the camera to get a great portrait shot.
5. Get Down and Dirty
Always try shooting at the kid’s eye-level, not yours – get down on your stomach if you have to – it will create much more natural-looking pictures.
Let the camera do the focusing, not you. Most modern cameras can keep up with fast-moving children.
Fill in the shadows using an inexpensive piece of 4×4-inch foam-core on the floor, rather than using a second light. Position the subject on the white flooring to create a more evenly lit picture.
Finally, go wild and let the children run free – chaos can be good and often results in the best pictures!