A week ago, I got the opportunity to take pictures of a three-year-old little girl named Charlotte. Her dad listens to the show each week, happens to live in the same city, so he contacted me to do her three-year-old pics.
Initially, he was thinking of a park or something, but in the interview process, I convinced them that often, a home environment is better for children’s pics. They feel more comfortable, and there is less pressure for them to perform or pose.
For me, the goal we focus on when taking pics of kids is to capture them being themselves, better to do that, than in their own home, doing the same things they do every day. So the first trick to kid pics is to make them comfortable.
Secondly, and this is a big one, the kid is the one in charge. Not you, and certainly not the parents. That is right, not the parents. The parents tend to try and “make” the kids do certain things and pose specific ways, and at that age, they tend to resist. When they do resist, the parents push harder, and the whole thing can devolve into crying very quickly. So the first set of instructions I give to the parents is to back off whenever their child starts to resist. The last thing we want is a crying, angry kid. Although I will say that crying photos can be very cool from an artistic standpoint. But on the whole, if we can avoid it, the better. Just relax, Mom, we will get some good pics. Promise.
Most parents are surprised that any good photos were achieved when I go and shoot them. But I am pretty stubborn, and I don’t give up. Fortune favors the photographer with persistence and a big memory card.
Once you have the kid comfortable with their surroundings, just let the kid be, and you shoot. It’s OK to try and set things up, and I do that all the time, but you should focus on setting up something that the kid likes to do anyway. Charlotte loved to read, she loved watching Dora the Explorer videos, and she dearly loved to sing. So that is what we focused on.
Lastly, and anyone that has taken my business class knows, the interview is huge. I meet with every customer physically before the actual shoot. It helps kids because they get a chance to meet you first. This way, they already kind of know who you are.
So there are my few tips.
- Find a place that the kid feels comfortable.
- The kid is the one in charge.
- Set up shots that the kid likes to do anyway.
- Meet the kid first before the actual shoot.
10 Things To Bring For Children Photography
Most of you guys are location photographers. Meaning you go to where the customer is. You take all of your gear, meet the customer at a park, or head to their house. So we have a mental checklist that we follow when packing our gear to ensure we don’t forget anything. Well, here are ten more essentials to pack up when children are involved in the shoot.
- Snacks – Now, here is one that you think the parent should be responsible for. But guess what, many of them, despite being told by you in the interview process, will plain forget. It is where you need to step up and show your customer just how awesome you are and produce this necessary accessory yourself. A few things to remember are that the snacks cannot have been used before and come in manufacture sealed packaging, must be small and easy to handle like Goldfish crackers, and of course, have the parent’s permission—heavy on the permission thing. You don’t know what that kid is allergic to, and some parents are very picky over what they give their children.
- Hair Stuff – Hair is the hardest thing to try and fix later, and yes, this should be something that the parent should bring, but like mentioned above, preparation is the key to success. You can be as talented as Picasso, but if you are not prepared for the situation, then you will go home wearing regret on your shoulders. So bring hair ties, a hairbrush, and one of those little water bottles with a sprayer on top.
- Telephoto Lens – Sometimes, those little Energizer Bunnies go crazy and refuse to sit still. Plus, they become about as rebellious as a miniature Billy Idol if they think you are taking pictures of them. So standing back with a telephoto lens and letting them go is the only viable option.
- Lots Of Memory Cards – I don’t adopt the spray and pray mentality. I think anyone that does is relying more on luck and less on skill. So please don’t misunderstand me when I say that shooting lots of pictures is smart with children. They have a knack for turning away at the moment you press down on the shutter. So taking a lot of pictures increases the chance of getting keepers. You still need to be planning, chimping and adjusting. But you need to be shooting a lot as well.
- Blankets – For newborns, it makes a lot of sense to bring a large variety of colored and patterned blankets to lay the children on. But older kids can sit on them and not mess up their clothes. You can even have parents stretch them out behind them for impromptu backgrounds.
- A Daisy Grip – A Daisy Grip is the coolest thing since sliced bread. It’s almost mandatory.
- Stickers – Kids love stickers—all kinds. You can pick them up at the Dollar Tree or similar stores in packs for $1. They make great rewards, and you can even tack the large ones at the end of your lens hood as a cheap attention-getter.
- A Sock Puppet – Keeping with the trend, a sock puppet is cheap and can be stretched over a hot shoe-mounted flash. Little ones will fixate on the thing, and you can snap away.
- Wet Wipes – Again, this is something that you would think is the parent’s responsibility, but being prepared will allow you to wipe away boogers, cookie crumbs, and drool. Easier to fix it while you are shooting than relying on your Photoshop skills later.
- Wide Angle Lens – This one may not make sense, but as that little bundle of energy is running around, you can hip shoot by running along next to them, hanging the camera in front of their face, listen for the focus to lock, and fire away. It takes a bit of practice but can yield results like what you see below.