My work as a photographer has often involved working with kids. From being a camp photographer to working with schools. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, I’d like to offer some advice to all of the moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, and family friends out there who are planning to get the best shot of their smallest loved ones this holiday season.
None of these photos were edited in any way whatsoever.
1. Shoot at eye-level. Take a knee or two and get down to eye-level height with your subject. Doing this not only gives the viewer a whole new perspective, but helps them enter the child’s world. This is very important, as it will force you to take a picture of the child’s face rather than the top of their head, and is also a very simple and easy thing to do.
2. Include some context within the photo. Take picture when you loved one is actually doing something, and include that activity in the photo. Pictures of your child, niece, or nephew doing things like bobbing for apples, or building a snowman are more likely to end up in photo albums than pictures of them sitting in a lawn chair in the front yard. Be sure that you photo tells a story of their accomplishment by including the finished snowman, or the apple, right as they pull it out of the water with their teeth. Later on, photos like this will serve as reminders of memorable moments and conversation starters. For instance, Remember the time you used a pickle for your snowman’s nose instead of…”. No conversation will ever start with, “Hey remember that time we had that lawn chair… and you sat on it?”
3. Keep the sun behind you. Shooting outside in natural sunlight can produce some of the best pictures, however in these situations your camera may become confused and replace your kids with silhouettes. The easiest thing to do in this situation is to simply reposition yourself to where the sun is behind you. Doing so will give you a nice blue sky and a bright, vibrant colors.
4. Make the kids laugh. A child who knows you and is comfortable around you will feel free to be themselves around you. When photographing children, I try to make them comfortable by making them laugh before taking their pictures. I tell jokes, I make faces, I even make fart noises with a Pooter (shout out to Jack Vale). Want to take a picture of a child who just lost their first tooth? Rather than asking them to smile, get them to laugh. The picture will be infinitely better. Tickling also works well.
5. Be invisible and ready. Getting kids to pose is great (especially when you let them come up with their own poses), but sometimes you want to photograph them at play without any direction whatsoever. In order to do so, you must become invisible. There are multiple ways to do so, but I prefer the hiding in plain site method. I do so, by just playing with the kids, who eventually totally forget that I’m there to take their picture. Or you could take another approach of simply being an observer. Remember to relax. If you are tense, they will sense that. Also, be ready. Little kids are very dynamic, so keep your camera ready.
6. Get in close. Fill your frame with the child and whatever it is that they are doing, and nothing else. Think outside of the box too. This could mean their tiny bare feet walking through wildflowers, or them holding hands with their best friend. Point is, get in there, and get the most memorable shot.
7. Don’t overthink. Once you’ve got the framing, take the photo.
All images used in this post are the copyrighted by Alan Clayton Williams unless otherwise stated.