Kids can be a tough nut to crack. In fact, when I first started to experiment with taking photos of children, I fell into the old traps of taking pictures in general. You know the old say-cheese-look-at-the-bird-in-the-lens mode. I think the predictable shots that resulted from those instances certainly documented age, weight, and what was in style apparel-wise, but they did nothing for the kids in the photos.
I'm now pretty much a laissez-faire photographer when it comes to kids. That is, whatever is happening in the scene, you go with the flow. I really don't like the posed, smile look. Kids can give you some pretty good facial expressions if you will just let them.
Case in point, on a visit to a local park event there were plenty of kids engaging in various activities The best time to catch kids is when they least expect it, as in the scene below with kids resting at a picnic table.
I used the same kind of thinking with the young lady in the photo below. On her way to get a drink or a hot dog at the park stand with her Dad, she was oblivious to me and everything around her. Kids make some pretty interesting faces when they are hard at work thinking.
I think if people can relate their everyday lives to what is being photographed, it makes the photo that much better.
Photos are very much the product of what a photographer's eye sees as the end result of the look of the picture. We've all seen the posed images of kids with Santa, right? How about the image below? It's of a friend's children done by a local photographer, and in my estimation one of the better photos of Santa and kids that I have seen. (Photo credit to Tammy Martines Photography)
So here are some tips when taking photos of the kids in your life:
- Give them something to do, or let them go about their business as usual.
- Don't ask or expect them to stare into your camera directly at any time, but be ready to capture a direct hit when it becomes a part of what they are naturally doing.
- If you have a camera that allows you to change your lenses, you may want to experiement with different focal lengths and angles. I used a 50mm 1.8 lens for my shots above, but would opt for a 17-40mm or 70-200mm for photos outdoors, or if the child isn't too keen on you being up close and personal with the camera. If you have a point and shoot, experiment with your zoom options for different effects.
- If you have edit software, stay away from harsh edits. Stick with soft coloring and soft lighting edits if necessary. Hazes and mists are fine for floral arrangements, but I do not particularly like them when editing photos of children.
- Most of all, have fun, relax, and enjoy the time with the kids!