Photographing Children: Tips for Parents and Professionals

Photographing children may be more challenging than you at first realise! When photographing younger children you must be aware of ensuring that they feel comfortable and safe. If they are your children then of course this is not a problem but it can cause some difficulty if you are photographing a friends child.

A child will pick up on our discomfort much easier than another adult so if you do not enjoy children’s company then you may want to think again before you embark on this area of digital photography.

Top 5 tips for photographing children:

1. Just because you are ready to take the child’s photograph does not mean they are ready and willing! You may have to ‘trick’ them into thinking it is a fun game for them to play. Have some props to hand such as bubble blowing or soft toys. Often toys with some sort of movement or noise are the most useful as they will emote a reaction from the child which you can capture if you are quick enough!

2. Ensure you are comfortable with the settings on your camera. This may seem obvious but if you suddenly stop when the child is happy to play to sort out a setting on your camera you will lose the moment, perhaps for ever. So make sure you have set your camera up for the session and are happy to adapt if and when necessary. Initially you may just use the environment you are in to photograph children but as you become more advanced you may wish to provide a lighting setup. This could consist of three light setup – consisting of a main light fill light and a background light. If you are using a backdrop keep the child at least four feet from the backdrop if possible as this eliminates shadows and prevents the backdrop from competing with your subject.

3. if you are photographing a friends or clients child ask the parent what sort of things their child will respond to. You may only have a short period in which to photograph the child so all information will be vital to the success of the session. Provide some props for the child to explore, such as a box or some dressing up clothes

4. Remember children have a short attention span so you may have to break off for short periods for the child to be re positioned or placated with a favourite toy or cuddle from a parent. At all times you must remain relaxed or the child and the parent will begin to feel uncomfortable. This will not provide the best atmosphere for successful photography!

5. Try to use your camera as an extension of yourself rather than placing it formally onto a tripod. If you are willing to roll around on the floor making stupid noises and giggling your subjects may be more relaxed and provide you with fantastic shots. You could move outdoors to photograph the child such as the beach or play park. There is no other field of photography where you will witness so many moods, facial expressions and movement than when photographing young children.

The most important things to remember when photographing children is to be relaxed at all times, don’t be phased by their capricious nature, allow them time, space and even toys to play with and always most importantly be comfortable with your camera because if you are not the whole session will be very stressful for you and the child.