About the Author
Kelly is a professional photographer, television sports broadcaster and a retired Canadian Olympian, shoots from her home base in Canmore, Alberta. www.kellyvanderbeek.com
Photographing children either excites you or terrifies you. Since I fit into the excited category, it amazes me how many photographers cringe at the idea of photographing infants and children. I suppose it’s the intimidating nature of the unknown that instills this fear.
Hopefully these tips will help take some of the mystery out of children’s photography and enhance both your images and experience.
Before you take your first frame, be sure everyone is comfortable with you and your camera. (This includes parents, since kids will sense their anxiety.)
Spend some time getting to know each other and, if the child is old enough, allow them to look through the lens and even take a few images.
Make Some Noise
Have a noise maker close at hand, especially when shooting babies/toddlers.
- Use squeaky or ‘crinkly’ sounding toys (tin foil is a good homemade substitute)
- Get creative with your voice box and kids will notice! (Hint: Daffy duck impersonations are popular with babies)
Note: Sometimes being quiet and patient will give you better results than noise. Sense the mood of the child you’re working with and trust your instincts.
Children are their best when they are natural. Shooting around an activity that excites or interests them is an approach that usually results in special images while making your job easier. Simply watch, enjoy, and capture the magic!
As is often the case in portrait photography, it’s all about the eyes. A good goal to have when shooting children is to capture their eyes with as much clarity as possible. To achieve this, use the eyes as your focusing point and a Metz 52 AF-1 flash to give you a desirable catchlight.
Get down to eye level with the children you’re photographing and you’ll achieve a more engaging image.
Interacting with your subjects will give you more photographic opportunities in a shorter amount of time. Having a lens like the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 allows you to be close to your subjects while not compromising on quality & clarity.
Kids move quickly, so I recommend setting your shutter speed to a minimum of 1/200th of a second or faster.
In the image below I wasn’t using a flash to supplement the low light and, sadly, the clarity suffered because the shutter speed was too slow.
Depth of Field
I suggest shooting in Aperture Priority Mode with the aperture set at 6.3. You can always increase the aperture if needed, but this setting with give you a nice soft background while keeping their face in focus.
Non of us like to be cold and kids will show that discomfort in their facial expressions. Be sure the children you work with are comfortable, with enough clothing to ensure the only thing they’re worried about is playing, exploring, and smiling.
When working with infants, the room temperature should be between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. As a side bonus to having a comfortable baby, you’re also less likely to get peed on!
Keep it Simple
Avoid having too many people attend a photo shoot. A viewing gallery of family and friends can be distracting for kids, so I advise most of my clients to come with as few people as possible.
Kids can sense you’re energy, so stay calm, smile lots, and be patient. Most importantly, enjoy yourself and everyone else will too!
All Photos by Kelly VanderBeek