You might think that it is all down to the moment when the shutter closes when you photograph children but actually, it starts way before then. And although acting a clown to get those smiles is definitely a requirement, the key to ensuring a successful children’s session begins in the planning.
10 tips to photograph children together
There’s a lot to think about when planning to photograph children, personally I love shooting on location, give me a field with pretty flowers, a pebbly beach, some pretty gardens or a beautiful old building and I’m happy. So the first thing I do when planning is consider my location options, I always talk to my clients about the types of locations they like and where they are most comfortable considering. Obviously this decision can be influenced by the ages of the children too, safety is always paramount.
The next thing I consider is timing, as a photographer I always shoot primarily for the light and good light doesn’t always coincide with the best time for children. The most important thing is to communicate well with your client to make sure you get a time that works well for both parties.
3. What to wear
I love choosing complimentary outfits when I photograph children together. A photograph works beautifully when you have thought about how colours work together, also if you know where you location will be you can complement the colours from there too.
Using props makes it easier to photograph children. I have used many things from large chairs and parasols, right down to small handheld toys and keys. What I use depends on how it fits into my overall vision of the shoot. Props work because they can keep small ones grounded and in one place as well as provide a point of focus, they are particularly important when shooting toddlers. Props don’t have to be obvious, mine are often tied in with my location for example the leaves in an autumnal scene, pebbles on the beach, dandelion blowers and so many more, just let your imagination loose!
5. Getting natural interaction
As parents it’s what we all want to see and the key to achieving it lies in getting your subjects to relax, make sure you spent some time talking with them and asking what they like. It will definitely pay off, as they will feel there is a real person behind that scary looking lens.
6. Give instruction through play
I love getting my children to pull faces at each other and it’s a great way to get them to be themselves. I definitely start off by giving some clear direction, I will tell them how I’d like them to sit and which direction to face, if they’re very young then I communicate this information with the adults so they can help. Then I get them to play a ‘Simon Says’ type game, look at me, look at each other, look at the sky, now look at the flying pig….. It usually gets some sort of reaction and helps with that all-important relaxing. Don’t forget to use Mum and Dad to grab attention and get some laughs, get them to stand behind you.
7. Take your opportunities
I tend to find these come in waves when I photograph children together, be ready for them because they’re often short-lived. I often find it’s best to get the more posed shots in right at the beginning and then the more creative opportunities later on.
8. Take a break
I always take a break or two during a session with kids, it helps prevent boredom and is a great way of getting children to be themselves, just take walk and chat with the other adults but always keep that camera handy, this is usually the part you don’t want to miss!
9. Be flexible
Even with the best planning in the world, every session is unique and I like to let things take their own direction, don’t be afraid to go with the flow.
10. Look for the unobvious
I love images where children are just being children these often happen when you’re from a distance so take a long lens. Some of my favorite images are when the children are not looking at the camera.
Vicki Utting – Guest Post
I’m a location loving, natural light photographer located in the UK in the beautiful North Norfolk countryside. I’m lucky enough to have four amazing children who inspire me daily and it is entirely down to them that I discovered photography. I love combining the art of photography with children’s portraiture, such precious subjects deserve images that are taken with care and thoughtfulness. A self-confessed cappuccino addict and avid pretty light hunter, photography keeps me sane whilst I navigate the wild waters of motherhood.
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