This is a guest post by Louise Glendon from Click.Love.Grow
Kids are hard enough to pin down and photograph at all, let alone together, cooperative, happy, and looking in the vague direction of our lens! And that’s without considering composition, light, exposure and everything else that makes a photograph a good photograph! Even if you bribe them (and speaking for myself, my camera weary offspring cost a lot more than a freddo frog these days!) you’re probably still only lucky enough to get a snapshot.
But it can be done. I’m not saying you can get them there without the bribery…but you can get a good photograph as well.
So the key is to consider your location, position, light, composition, and set your exposure first. Then and only then bring the kids in. If the kids have to sit and wait whilst you play around preparing, you’ve lost them before you can say cheese (but don’t say cheese! See Tip #5).
Tip #1 Light & Location
Consider your light and position. Choose to shoot early or late in the day, 2 hours after sunrise or before sunset when the sun is low in the sky and wraps your subject in soft beautiful rays. Then choose your location so that the sun will be behind your subjects. At any other time of day when the sun is high overhead, it will cause harsh and unflattering shadows, so choose a spot in open shade. If you choose the open shade of a tree, make sure the dappled light doesn’t throw spots of light across them.
Tip #2 Be Ready!
Now that your location is decided, think about how you want to compose your subjects. Sitting on a seat, lying on the grass, leaning on a tree? Will you need any props? A rug to sit on? A brightly painted kitchen chair? Will you shoot them front on? Or will you have them lie down side by side and stand above and shoot down? Once you’ve decided all that, use a prop such as a doll or teddy to help you set your exposure. Lastly, make sure their faces are clean, clothes are suitable, and they’re not tired or unwell before you start. You don’t want to take a dozen shots, then notice Master 3 has this morning’s vegemite on his chin at the same moment he decides he’s had enough and it’s over!
Tip #3 Get Down!
A common mistake I see when people photograph kids is shooting them from their own adult height. Unless you’re wanting to shoot from above for creative reasons (such as having them lie down and look up at you whilst you shoot from directly over them), when you shoot from your height you miss out on a really great connection. Get down to their level and have them look directly into your lens.
Tip #4 Give Them Something To Do
If you have a child who can’t sit still for very long, at least not happily, give them something to occupy them that will photograph well. If they love to play a guitar, give them one to strum. 2 year olds are notoriously hard to engage for more than few seconds, and I find giving them a book and asking them to “read” it to me helps keep them in place for a good few minutes if not longer. Or maybe a favourite teddy, and you can ask them to tell you the story of how teddy got his name. These are just ideas, think about what your kids like to do that keeps them sitting for a decent amount of time, and use it to your advantage!
Tip #5 Don’t Say Cheese!
For the love of all that is good and holy…don’t. say. cheese! When kids say cheese, you’ll be rewarded with more of a grimace than a smile. Instead, draw out their natural happy. Be playful, make jokes, talk about things you know makes them laugh, and keep it age appropriate. There’s nothing like telling a 9 year old the joke you heard from your 4 year old to completely lose them. For little ones, tell them to look into your lens for the bug you saw crawl in earlier. Or the butterflies. Or the monkey. Try tickling them, or telling them to tickle one another. They might be awkward at first, but very quickly you’ll get great natural smiles and laughter.
As a bonus, the faster and more fun you can make the experience, the more chance there is that next time won’t be as difficult to entice them happily into photos, and hopefully it won’t cost you a truckload of freddo frogs!
Louise’s Online Photography Course for Women.
If you’d like even more fabulous tips on photography, or you’re ready to master that camera of yours and start capturing great images that you love, check out Louise’s Online Photography Course for Women.
Easy to understand language, a fabulous community of women, and practical challenges and feedback so you can finally figure out how to use manual settings on your DSLR.
About Louise Glendon
My name is Lou, I?m a Boudoir Photographer in Adelaide Australia and I happen to love all things beautiful, colourful and filled with light!
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