Week 2: Kids--5 Way to Improve your Child Photography

6:19 AM

Welcome to Week 2 of Photoberfest 2011!

If you didn't enter last week now is your time! Just hold your breath and push send...you can do it! 

To kick off kids week I have compiled a list of 5 points to remember when taking pictures of kids.

1- Distract them!
Often times it's fun to be a little fly on the wall and photograph them just being themselves. There are a couple of ways to do just that without being noticed. The first way is to distract them. Give them something to play with or something to do. Another way is to use a long lens so you don't have to be right in their faces. For example:

playing on the beach with toys.

Capture them playing in the toy room when they don't even know you're watching them.

This was one of the best distractors...ever. a dog. This little girl did not want to stay in one spot to get her picture taken...that is until she got to hold the dog. 

And cupcakes are also an excellent distractor.

Here's an example of using a long lens (85mm) so I was able to be a good close-up shot without interfering with their play. I was probably a good 30 feet away when I took this picture. (They're pretending to put gas in the car, btw.)

2- Get Down on their level
As adults we tend to always have a downward view of our kids because obviously, they are shorter that we are. But when it comes to photography your pictures can be enhanced by getting down to the kids eye level. Then your photos take the perspective of the child. For example:

For this one I was sitting on the floor in front of him.

Here I was crouching down to her level.

And for this shot I was actually on my stomach.

3- Build a relationship
It's so important to have some type of connection with the child to really get a great picture. Kids are perseptive. They know if you're being fake with them. They want genuiness. (not sure if that is really a word...) And if you don't have the child's trust, it will show through in the pictures.

If it's your own kids that you are photographing try and have fun with it. Try not to be crazy momzilla who is forcing them to act and look a certain way just to get a good picture. It will backfire. Believe me, I know. More times than I care to admit I've tried to force them to "be happy", "be natural", "hug your brother like you mean it"...and those pictures are usually the ones that don't turn out.

Some ways to quickly build trust with kids you don't know are to sing the theme song from their favorite show. (c'mon, EVERYONE knows the theme song to Phineus and Ferb. And if you don't, you should it will make you smile.) Another way is to ask them questions...what's your teachers name? What's your favorite food? What's your favorite TV show? You may not even get them to stop talking after a while and in the mean time they will know you have a sincere interest in them.

I simply adore this little guy in the photo below. I'm really good friends with his Mom and I was staying at his house for a few days so we became best buds.  This really helped when I was taking his picture because he knew he could trust me.

I asked all kinds of questions to this little sweetie and after about the 8th question she couldn't get enough of me! When it was her siblings turn to take pictures she would say, "Can I have my picture taken now?" And as we were leaving she ran up and gave me a big hug. awwww.

4- Don't be set on a perfect picture
I know sometimes it's hard not to go into a photoshoot or a session with an exact vision of what you want to acheive. Actually that is good to have a vision. However, don't be so rigid and stuck to your goal that you miss out on some real-life, candid moments.

Kids are kids and sometimes the best pictures are the ones where they are totally and completely being themselves. Here are some examples of my son, Lyndon:

 Still in his PJ's with marshmallow all over his face. 

Being his true self...

I've shared this picture before and every time I laugh when I see it. This was Lyndon on Easter morning. I always take the kids outside right before church so I can some pictures of their Easter clothes. This year Lyndon was NOT HAVING that jacket. He obviously hated it. No matter what I did he was not going to smile while he was wearing that jacket. But that was fine by me, I love these pictures.

Here I wanted a picture of him while he was enjoying the 4th of July parade but instead I got his cute little wrinkled nose and his sweet freckles.

This picture also makes me smile every time I see it. He couldn't wait to come and show me how he got his goggles on all by himself. Check out that nose...that can't be comfortable!

5- Ditch the parents
I know this sounds harsh but bare with me... When I do a photo shoot for other peoples kids I like to take the child just slightly out of the parents sight. Okay, after typing that is sounds a little creepy. Let me explain... The reason I like to do this is so that the child will LOOK AT ME. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get a child's attention aka: eye contact when the parents are also calling out his name thus breaking the eye contact with you and landing it on the parent(s). When you get one-on one with the child it also gives you time to build trust without having the watchful eye of the parents. 

Don't be afraid to suggest the one-on-one time. Every single parent I have asked if I could take a little walk with their child has been more that happy to oblige. I think they almost feel like they are "off the hook" so to speak too. The parents tend to feel it is their job to get their child to smile for you. When I say they can take a break, they usually feel relieved. 

I took this hunk of a guy out by ourselves and we had a blast running and chasing after each other. I let him play a little bit and then I would call out his name so he would look right me. Worked like a charm.

This little heartbreaker was so fun to photograph. I took her out by herself just around the block from her parents and she was such a ham! Laughing and posing...it was perfect.

This is the same little girl who I kept asking question after question and we became fast friends. I love that she was able to focus just on me so we could get this great up close shot.

And there you have it! Okay, now it's your turn...I'm excited to see your kid entries this week. Go ahead, knock my socks off. (you have my permission)


dana said...

great tips! and I'm laughing that all your "don't worry about getting the perfect shot" are with Lyndon. haha. I pinned your post :)

Marilyn said...

Great Tips Katie.. TY.. I just emailed you my photo's for linking for the contest.. TY so much.. These are GREAT photo's.. LOVE THEM!!

Wag Doll said...

Great advice, makes me want to have another baby (my daughter is all grown up) just so I can photograph childhood LOL!

Alison Douglass Photography said...

Thanks so much!!! I use my trusty dusty (modified) pez dispenser to help as well!!!

Darby-Doo said...
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Gracie said...
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Gracie said...

Thanks so much for making this post! I'm doing a photo shoot with some kids next month! The moms want school photos, but don't want that staged look. So outdoor photos here we come!

pixidance said...

I'd love to enter your contest but the link here only takes me to your about me page...

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