Child Photography Tips That Make Sense

The field of child photography is challenging but also both enjoyable and profitable – if you like children. Don’t bother pretending, if you really don’t. You may fool a parent – but not the little one.

Tips to help are: The techniques used in most other fields of photography do not always apply in child photography. The phrase “hold it” or “freeze” carry very little weight with children. They typically do as they please and if they please. Your assignment is to anticipate what a child may be about to do and capture it.

YOU can turn this into your advantage: Since children don’t always do what you want them to do, or what you expect them to do (actually they rarely do!). A solution often is: don’t expect them to become a cooperative little adult merely because you want to take their picture. Trick them – expect them to act like children. Don’t expect anything in particular. DO this and you can enter the fun and profitable field of child photography.

Know your stuff – Before you start booking sessions with children you must know exactly what you are capable of doing – what your camera is capable of doing – what all your equipment is capable of doing. Operating your camera and equipment must be second nature. Have your style of photography down pat, so when you start a session your mind is on the children). This takes your complete focus. This is not the time to be fiddling with you camera, or trying to figure out your light setup. Children take 100% of your concentration. For some children the entire shoot may only last 10 minutes – though you feel you have just run a marathon – so you have to be able to get in position , get the most cooperation from the child, get great shots. At times, this has to be done very quickly, BUT you cannot make the child feel they are being rushed.

Know your subjects – With children, you must expect the unexpected. At different ages children are capable of doing different things. The more you know what they typically do during some of these stages, the better images you are going to capture. And the happier you make your clients – which, in turn, makes you financially happy.

During a session photographing children you can get a variety of poses, expressions and antics. In no other field of photography are you liable to get such variety. The more you learn about little ones the better child photographer you will be. Children are not just children until they become adults -they come in all sizes. Between four months and four years you can place them into quite a few categories: 4-6 mos, 6-12 mos, 12-18 mos, 18-24 mos, and then you can lengthen out the age span. Awareness of these ages are needed to help you – the photographer – be aware of the limitations children (especially little ones) have.

Listening to the parent can help toward a successful session. You can learn specific things about their child that will make it or break it: Are they afraid of certain things or sounds? What are their special likes? Do they like books? How comfortable are they with a stranger approaching them? You do NOT want to spook a little one; the scheduled time may not allow for you to win their confidence.

Be ready with that camera when you first introduce something new -you do not get a second chance to get first reactions!

In most areas of photography a tripod is great for sharp photos. However with child photography you do not always have such a luxury. Once they reach the moving around stage, a tripod limits your ability to capture expressions and poses. Be mindful of your camera settings – keep that shutter speed fast enough to prevent blurring – and be ready to move quickly!

Child photography allows for close-up portraits as well as the child engaged in some activity – taking their socks off – in a box / tub with toys – climbing on or out of something. There is really no limit. As you continue to gain experience in working with children of various ages you will become more adept at learning what typically works with different age groups.

Child photography is a challenge – but don’t worry sometime it turns into children photography. Mom has twins – big brother / little sister – maybe three little cousins. The list goes on! Imagine two sister and they both have triplets! Other than the obvious difficulty of getting multiple little subjects in any semblance of position, conducive to a memorable photo you need to bring everyone’s eyes to a central focal point. Tricky, but not impossible. Adding something NEW to catch their attention, at the moment you press the shutter, can work. Use this sparingly, because when child photography turns into children photography getting all their attention on the same thing is quite a feat. The beauty of digital is no limits to the exposures you take and you can take a quick peek on the spot.

Parents can be quite helpful during the photo session. Children often are more confident with a parent nearby. Also, do not overlook the value of older brother and sisters. They have a relationship with the little one like no one else! Often they can get their little brother or sister to giggle, make faces, hold things and a host of other things that may be exactly what you need. Plus, you have the opportunity of including more subjects in the photos, which translates into a larger photo package for the customer!

As you advance in child photography you will want a lighting setup and a backdrop. A three light setup – consisting of a main light fill light and a background light – is ideal. However if you are just beginning you can do great photography with a lot less. Experiment, and add as needed. If you are using a backdrop keep the child at least four feet from the backdrop (if possible). This eliminates shadows and prevents the backdrop from competing with your subject.

Take your act on the road – You can do child photography at the park – on the beach – in the backyard, just as easily as in a studio or home – maybe more so – and nature will take care of the lighting for you, as long as you select open shade.

Items to have on hand: Depending on the ages and whether you are shooting indoors or outdoors you need a supply of items to catch and keep their interest and that look great in a photo: rattles feather dusters soft toys dolls hats mirrors a telephone (the bigger the better) a big whistle duplicate toys (for twins & overly competitive little ones) treats & snacks

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Dan Feildman -
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