I hope this article help parents who would like try and capture images of their child…
1) What are some of the main challenges with photographing children, especially infants and young kids?
The main challenges in photographing children lies in 2 things:
1, the behaviour of the child and also
2, the our own expectations.
Each child is unique and the more we can understand the children, the easiest to get the real emotion from the child. For example: a strong will child usually like to be challenge, so challenge them will work wonders and on the other hand, a very shy child usually need a lot time to build the rapport and gain their trust, etc
What is our expectations determine what we are going to take. For example, if I am looking to preserve memories of my child at a particular stage, I will look for the “milestone” kinda image, such as the first steps… walking with hands balancing… etc
My idea of photography is simple, capture the memories for the child as you interpret it as their parents. Allow them to be who they are and add or remove elements that you want to be in or out of those memories so we can remember them.
— When they’re sleeping
When child is sleeping, they really don’t mind what you do as a parents. Use smaller and unintrusive camera would work. Child’s room tend to be dark, use of small flash light bouncing away from the child should give the right illumination that needed to get the images.
— When they’re playing / doing sports
If they are on the small play in the house, don’t interrupt them, let them do what they do and capture those moments as they will grow out of it in not so distant away. If they are playing sport outside the house, try to use longer tele-photo lens (something like 70-200mm works the best) to capture them without interrupting their activity.
— When on vacation and you want to take scenic shots
Vacation is the best time to do the shoot as you tend to be relax and there are a lot of things going on during the vacation. Bring small camera and bring one zoom lens instead of a lot of them. Spend time capturing what you want to remember them. Forget about bringing tripod, find somewhere to lean on and stabilise the camera by pulling the strap down and pull the camera up gives you the stability on the go. In short, keep it simple and focus on what you want to include as part of their memories
— When doing portraits
Control of lighting is crucial hence, usually off camera flash works better to control the shadow or find somewhere that has a big window. Use bed sheet as backdrop. Remember portrait is about the subject, set your camera and forget about it. Talk to the subject and find out the interesting expression of your child… you will surprise you see a lot of genuine expression when you talk to them like a little friend. Don’t criticise them and keep the session short.
— In the water or pool
Waterproofed your camera!!!…
Those plastic enclosure works really well and go in the pool with them… give them direction and where to swim towards so you can control the overall image. Be patience as in the water takes a bit of time to focus and enclosure usually bulkier. Children usually like to do things repeatedly so just ask them to repeat them until you got the shots might work, but keep it short on each repetition.
— When you have a group of them
In the group, you need to find the “leader” of the pack if they are older then 4 years old and guide the leader and the rest will follow.
Younger than 4, just give them something that will make them sit down together… whatever… food, drawing, activities… etc.
General tips like lighting, camera modes, tips for getting kids to settle down, etc:
Soft lighting usually works better for children, so bounce the light if you have something to bounce, a big white towel makes a perfect bounce surface… I tend to shoot with Manual mode as I can control the light and other variables the way I want it, but Aperture more is commonly use as you just need to worry 1 variable. Keep things simple really.
Understand your child is crucial, never push what you want into them… if you want them to smile, make them smile, don’t ask them to smile. If you want them to happy jumping around, do that with them… they are a reflection of you… do remember the less you ask, but more you do with them gives you more things to shoot.
Last but not least, you need to always remember the idea behind why you want to take a photograph of your child? It is all about them and you are just an observer…
Here are some images I took of my kiddo during our recent vacation: