delight - techniques in photographing kids

delight, originally uploaded by stephenhunton.com.

I've had a number of portrait sessions over the last few weeks, most of which have been with families & kids. What I've learned is that kids are really hard to shoot from the age of around 2 - 4. And if there is more than one, then you're probably not going to get to many "look at the camera" pictures with both kids. It's a huge challenge, but have found some good results with a couple ideas and a little luck.

Location/Location - find places where kids can run around and be themselves. A big grassy field not only looks beautiful when you push your aperture all the way open (50mm 1.8!!!), but it also is a safe open space where you don't have to constantly stop them from having fun.

Let them play - fun = happy faces = real emotion in your camera. The hardest thing to do with a kid is to tell them to smile. They know how to smile, but they don't "really know how to smile". I always try this with kids to see if I get lucky, but most (who don't have a photographer for a Dad) haven't spent enough time in front of the camera to not do the classic hard smile, showing every tooth in their cute grills. Just doesn't look natural.

Run with them - this was a new one I learned with the girls in this picture. As I ran with them and my non-zoom lens, I was able to stop them, but still capture movement, emotion, etc.

Be FAST - if you're lucky enough to get kids to stand still and look at the camera you've probably only got a few seconds to get the right picture. Get your settings right before you say "hey, look at me" and then grab their attention, snap as many frames as you can and you should end up with at least one keeper that the parents will love.

Encourage them - tell kids how great they're doing.

Include the kids - I like to show kids what's in my camera so that they get excited and become a part of the process. sometimes this will make them more cooperative because they want to see the "neat pictures".

I'm sure there are many more tips/ideas/thoughts on how to shoot kids. These are just the latest ideas I've had, so let me know your thoughts so that we can all keep making great pictures.


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