The child you photography today will change and grow, you are the person to capture all the little things that will change, you will capture it forever in an image given to the parents of that child you captured today. You are providing them a memory to cherish forever. Little toes, cute dinky nose, the way she was.
See my way, my tips on capturing the little wonder’s of the world and bringing out the best in them to capture emotion. Learn very simple tips to help understand how to get a good portrait of young children
Capture those little wonders of our world…Patience!
How do I capture wonderful portrait images of children and bring emotion to them?
Lots of patience and a little bit of time.
The number 1 thing to have with children as your subjects is patience, when they come to me I won’t bring the camera out at all instantly, instead I will bring the toys and books out and I will start playing with them or by myself if they are really shy (they soon take interest). Don’t rush or force them, just keep playing until they warm to you. They also like to warm to the environment they are in. We are just the same when we go somewhere new and different or meet new people, we get a bit nervous don’t we?
Be a kid
To take images of kids you need to be a kid, you need to be on their level. Yes that means being silly sometimes.
I am often seen jumping round a room like a monkey or making pig noises or singing nursery rhymes.
I will have first judged what kind of child I have at the beginning of a session. If I played a noisy toy or a squeaky one and they cry or the bottom lip starts to go or they are clinging on to parent for dear life then I know I have a shy type and the noisy toys are a no no, but if I get a little smile I know they will work.
I have bubbles, toys and yes chocolate for bribes at the ready but I find spending 10 minutes playing first and helping them feel comfortable helps the most.
I can never have enough props, they don’t need to be expensive ones, on my outdoor sessions I simply have a old toy camera, maybe a balloon, or a teddy or an umbrella. They love something to hold.
Children like to feel comfortable and secure in a new environment with a new face.
I show them my camera and I take a picture of a toy and show them, I may let them press the button to take the image of the toy then show them on the viewfinder. I get them to see my camera is not a nasty big thing they first assumed. It is just like a phone camera they are used to with parents only bigger and better. Sometimes when we look straight into the camera we can spot a fairy or a flying superhero. They love this and the looks I can achieve are great. It is a white lie!
I always show them the image after and say ‘ Is this smile big enough do you think? Can we do better?
I give them choices for example I have 2 chairs, which one would you like to sit on? usually a choice gives them the power.
I often ask them things like who their favourite princess or superhero is and what their favourite school friend is etc to keep distraction.
I often get parents behind me so they are looking in camera direction and I may pretend parent is tickling me and I get all giddy and they laugh.
If a child does not want to leave parent after everything you have tried just include parent in the photo’s too.
Remember though sometimes the best images are those not smiling but showing true personality, I love the moody look the best or when they are engrossed in play. Just snap snap away and get a mixture of all emotions you can in 1 session.
I am all about emotion in my work and I explain to parents this is my style, my website reflects this I love a moody look just a much as a smile.
If I get a really unhappy child I may suggest going outdoors to play naturally, a walk or the park or they may prefer me in their own environment like their home.
Be prepared to get dirty and wet! often I lay on the floor or kneel so I am at their level or shooting up so I get different angles.
You will want to up that shutter speed, and set your camera to continuous shooting mode. The first imge below was taken outdoors so we still got a portrait!
Yes the boring stuff that needs to be right!
Master your lighting, take a course, watch video’s, practice it’s important if you want amazing catchlights in their eyes and great shadows.
Personally, I love natural light where possible but that also brings its own problems like time of day to shoot, finding great spots where there is amazing light but great shadow spots.
If I am outdoors I like to find shade near light (shade is your friend!) you don’t want blown out highlights or spots of light on the skin so find a good amount of shade with light behind. I spend a lot of time looking for great locations.
Occasionally though I like anyone else can get it wrong, because emotion comes first to me. The last image shown has crazy blown highlights but it is one of my favourite images, just look at the happiness and fun in this image, it won’t win awards but it is a keeper for me, I can break the rules here it wasn’t a posed situation but a great emotional capture!
The other thing is having amazing sharp eyes and learning lighting will help achieve this. Eyes are important! you want stunning eyes with perfect catchlights so you need the eyes to be the focus as well as lit correctly.
Tips by Jennifer Brooke
Thank you for reading and I hope it helps you a little in your portrait work, do watch video’s and take training for things like lighting and always put safety first then just enjoy your time with the little wonders of the world as we make such a difference in their life’s when they look back at your work, their memory.