Anyone who is a parent is likely to agree that their favourite photography subject is their own children. The only problem is that when it comes to capturing those magic childhood moments, babies and children rarely stay still long enough to get a clear shot.
Small children don’t take direction well and are unlikely to cooperate when you need them to position themselves in a certain way for your photo. If your child does stop moving for you the results can often be unnatural with a forced smile or pose.
It’s no wonder everyone can relate to the saying ‘never work with children or animals’. Taking photos of children is a challenge but it’s not impossible. We’ve compiled a selection of recommendations to help you get the best results for your next photoshoot with your kids:
Capture them at play
Children are at their most animated and expressive when they play. If you are casually observing your child as they go about their games you can often only see the top or back of the head, especially if they are really focused on their activity.
Depending on the type of image you want to take, some activities will be more suitable than others. It is very difficult to focus your camera on a high-energy, running and jumping child. On the other end of the spectrum, an activity that is too calm like drawing or lego may not produce the most engaging results. To be able to get their delighted face in frame you need to create a suitable activity or game that will position your child in the right place looking up at you.
While you man the camera it helps to have someone else on hand to engage and play with your child. Select an appropriate game such as throwing a ball or hide and seek where you can focus your lens on your child’s expressions and the adult helper can interact with them while remaining at a distance.
Alternatively for more candid images you can just follow your child like the paparazzi and take photos during their everyday games. Try to take pictures at their eye level and not distract them from their activities.
Take your time
Taking photographs of children requires next level patience. Your little models will likely need a bit of time to warm up to being photographed. You may even have chase your kids around and take hundreds of shots just to get one that isn’t blurred and has your entire child in frame.
Make this process easier by choosing familiar locations where your child feels comfortable like at home, on the beach, on your favorite playground or in the sandbox. If you are taking them somewhere new you may need to give them some extra time to get used to their surroundings. Encourage them to explore, play around and relax. Take photos from a distance and zoom in so that they don’t feel like they need to perform for the camera.
Ensure their basic needs are met
This probably goes without saying but most little models will be at their most cooperative after a nap and a feed. Some are even great at posing for photos during their nap. If your child is a deep sleeper you may find it easy to get them into position without disturbing them.
You may also wish to try some small bribes or rewards to encourage them to cooperate. This technique generally works every time and you don’t need to resort to offering food or sweets. You can play cartoons next to the camera, tell them that you’ll visit some places that they love or just do something fun with them after after the shoot.
Find a way to make them laugh
Everyone who has photographed children knows that most of them can crack a smile when someone asks them to do it. Unfortunately these on-demand results can often look a little forced and it is much nicer to try and catch a genuine smile or giggle.
There are many ways to make your little laugh such asking them to pull some funny faces. This can create some amusing results itself but the magic happens in their expression when they respond to your reaction to their funny grimaces.
You can try asking them to act out particular emotions or characters with their poses and facial expressions: angry, silly, dinosaur face, the face of the prince or princess, hungry, tired, surprised and happy face - which can also lead to sincere smiles and laughter.
Have your camera out regularly
How often have you noticed a beautiful moment you wished to capture, you try to whisk out your camera but your kids see you in action, are completely distracted and the moment is lost.
The last thing you want is your kids to change their behaviour every time they see the camera. The best way to avoid this is to try and photograph them more frequently so that the camera just becomes part of the scenery. Allowing them to forget the camera is there will make them more comfortable to continue being children and play more candidly.
Overall when you want to take photographs of you kids make it fun, don’t set high expectations and when all else fails bribe, bribe, bribe!