Let's face it, photographing kids can be one of the hardest tasks for a photographer. I hate those posed, forced smiles, kids are not meant for those. They should be captured in their natural happy truth without overly posing (or not posing at all).
Beyond portraits, or specific kids shoots, I found kids at weddings incredibly irresistible and I think they always add to any photo, a touch of genuine happiness, sweetness and fun. Whether you're shooting them specifically for the purpose of taking memories for their parents, or during the unfolding of a wedding day there are a few tips that I want to share, for you to take the best photos.
1. Dirty, gritty real.
No matter, how hard you try I think it always leads to an epic fail when you try to pose a kid. "Now smile", "wave at the camera", "run towards mommy", "hug your sister", I have heard so many of these instruction being yelled at kids during photo shoots that I can't even..
Create a true honest environment if you're shooting a kid portrait, and let them be. Gain their trust and don't hide behind the camera giving instructions. They have a very little interest for
what's happening behind your lens and they're definitely more focus on the small irresistible tangible or imaginary things that they're busy playing with.
Depending on the age of the children you are working with, speak with them, show your face and ask them questions. Sometimes I even show them the photos I am taking so that they feel involved, and let's face it, this generation is very aware of what a photo is. They play with their parents' phone more than you can imagine and they have a pretty good sense of how those "things" work.
2. Play with them.
Ok, this sounds ridiculous but when am approaching a child knowing that I want to take a good photo of him/her without creating awkwardness I literally behave like them. I don't baby talk to them, kids hate it. Do you remember old aunt Maggie asking you how old you are and if you have a boyfriend, with that baby condescending voice? I hated it, and I bet you did too. So simply don't do it. Get over the age barrier, and speak their language. Don't baby talk and be real. Show interest in what they wear, in what they're playing with, in what they're looking at. Rather than picking up a toy and wave it at them making the toy voice, pick up a toy and play with it yourself. "brum bruumm" and play with the car, "and now we are going to the grocery store" and make that doll walk, pick up teddy bear and ask it what is its favorite color, I bet the kid will tell you..
3. Keep your years and eyes open.
This tip applies more for those of you who shooting weddings, want to capture beautiful shots of kids in their beautiful being kids behavior.
Sometimes, as opposed to the previous tip, you need to be invisible and just observe, ready to shoot. On the dance floor, or when the bride is getting ready, or dad is tying is bow tie, when no one else is watching, kids do the most amazing things and if they realize someone is paying attention they stop.
Have you ever done that? When I was a little girl I used to close the door of my bedroom and playing dress up for hours, or I used to put up entire scenes with my Barbies, to the extent that one time I literally built a full Barbie house with card boards and my mom's expensive wool thread for decorations, and if anyone came in the room I'd suddenly stop playing just to start again when I was alone in the room and no one was watching.
Kids do that, they have a full imaginary world around them and if you interrupt the magic the reality hits them and you ruin the chance of your great shot.
4. Practical shooting settings.
Set your camera focus on "AI SERVO" mode (if you want to learn how that works and how it helps watch the video), so you don't have to worry of sudden change of directions, running kids and focus. I tend to like to keep my aperture a little lower when I am shooting portraits of kids, because I want to make sure that I am absolutely capturing those beautiful eyes really crispy, I want their baby faces to be sharp and I don't have to worry about their wrinkles :)
I keep my aperture high only if I want the portrait to be soft and angelic, which sometimes is also really pretty, but it depends from case to case, mostly depends from the purpose of my shot.
I like back-light for kids because it gives me that sense of whimsical, angelic, pure innocence, but is not always possible so I try to choose light and airy backgrounds as opposed to busy and dark environments. Window and natural light are almost a must in my opinion, and if you're shooting in studio then replicate that soft pretty light that you'd have naturally if you were outdoor.
Do you guys have any more tips or questions to share? Please let me know, I want to hear your thoughts and if you have any question feel absolutely free to ask (anywhere you want: Instagram, Facebook, by email, etc.), and if you liked this post share it!!!