Comedian, juggler, and writer WC Fields is famous for saying that a person should never work with animals or children.
Indeed, photographing families with toddlers can be particularly challenging, especially for novices. Challenging but not impossible.
If you are keen on establishing yourself as one of the top family photographers in your area, there is no workaround to photographing young kids.
Ready to face the challenge? Here are some helpful tips for you.
Preparation is key
It should go without saying, toddlers can be unpredictable. If you have kids of your own, you know that a lot of things can happen in an instant. Moreover, some of your best shots can be immediately lost if you don’t pay keen attention to your subject.
One important thing to remember is that you won’t have time to fiddle with the camera settings once the photo shoot commences. As such, it is highly advisable to come into the photo studio or shoot location with your camera settings already set.
It is also a good idea to do some scouting of the photo shoot location to familiarize yourself with the backdrop as well as the lighting. This is particularly important for outdoor photo shoots where challenges concerning the terrain and weather need to be sorted out well ahead of time.
Finally, ask your client to come to the photo shoot with their child well-rested and well-fed. Otherwise, the chances of the young tyke being tired or cranky will be higher.
Set aside everything you’ve learned about posing
It just won’t happen. Or it won’t look natural.
You see, you can’t easily coax young children to follow instructions. And if by any chance, you manage to make a young child smile or strike a particular pose on command, the results will almost always be far from stellar.
The quickest, and often, the most straightforward route toward success in a photo shoot involving kids is to let them be and let them have fun. Play. Sing. Joke around. Have fun. These are some of the ways to draw out a genuine reaction from your young subjects.
Be quick on the draw
Photographing children is similar to covering a sporting event like a basketball match — blink and the highlight reel-worthy shot has already passed you by.
Take a cue from sports photographers and set your camera to take burst shots. Set your shutter speed to around 1/250, and the aperture to 2.2. This will limit blurring and allow your camera to take in more light.
Get some help
Juggling between taking shots and coaxing out a reaction from young subjects can be overwhelming even for seasoned photographers.
Fortunately, you don’t need to go at it alone. Enlist the help of the other family members who are at the photo shoot. Most likely, they know how to draw out smiles and laughs from your young subjects, making things a bit easier for you and your crew.
Encourage the parents to bring their kids’ favorite toy or even sing their favorite songs to keep them engaged and in a light mood.
Natural light works best
In almost all cases, natural lighting works best for kids. If possible, photograph children near windows when shooting indoors.
If the natural light is weak, do not use your camera’s built-in flash. Instead, use an external flash or portable lights.
The closer you get, the better
Move closer to your subjects. This will help you capture the minute details of young child subjects. Remember, children can undergo massive changes in just a year, even in a few months. You’ll be doing your clients a great favor by capturing those fine details.
Of course, you have to consider your subjects’ mood and temperament. Keep a reasonable distance if the kids are a little antsy.
Go into program mode
Many professional photographers recommend setting the camera to manual mode. There are a few exceptions, of course; that includes photographing young kids.
Setting your camera to program mode will help you adapt quickly to changes in both your environment and your subjects, allowing you to take quick shots and not miss special moments that your client wants to capture for posterity.
Embrace the challenge
Working with kids isn’t always easy. But if you step up to the plate and take on the challenge, kids are some of the most amazing subjects you’ll ever work with as a professional photographer.
AUTHOR BIO :- Stefanie Descheemaecker is the Studio Manager at Stu Williamson Photography at The Palm Jumeirah – Fairmont Hotel in Dubai. She has been with the company for almost 3 years and is the driving force behind the success of the business. A keen amateur photographer, Stef combines her natural creative eye with a strong business acumen to help Stu Williamson Photography become the most trusted and successful photography business in the UAE.