Children are a natural subject matter for professional and amateur photographers alike. In fact, parents often take dozens of photographs of their children on any given day while at the park, a ceremony, or a party. Yet they might also spend hundreds of dollars every year hiring a professional photographer to get “real” photographs of their children at these same events.
Taking professional quality photographs in real life situations such as these doesn’t need to be the purview of only professional photographers, however. Keeping just a few fundamental tips in mind while shooting pictures can elevate a “snapshot” to a photograph.
Avoid the Urge to “Say Cheese!”
The number one mistake most parents make when taking photographs of their children is calling out for their attention and instructing, “Say cheese!” Children seem conditioned to immediately halt whatever they are doing and plaster a frozen, unnatural smile on their face.
While having some photographs of children smiling directly into the camera is wonderful and a treasure, rarely are they achieved by having them, “Say Cheese!” Instead, the best images tend to come about by being as unobtrusive as possible, or at most engaging in a regular conversation. Once children are distracted and forget to be “on,” it’s likely a natural smile will emerge that captures their true personality.
Similarly, allowing children to be themselves while “on a shoot” is the perfect set-up for creating a treasured photograph. Children playing, running, skipping, jumping, or just gazing up at the sky while unawares of the camera not only captures the moment in time, it also is an honest recording of their childhood.
Don’t aim for perfection; allow hair to fall into their face, it’s okay if that shirt isn’t tucked in perfectly, or shoes become untied. These little details can add charm and personality to a photograph.
Take Photographs from Unexpected Angles
It’s tempting for most to take portraits from the front, a full face photograph. However, altering this just a bit-or a lot- can create not only surprisingly pleasing photographs, it can also capture the subject’s personality in unexpected ways. Walking to the side, and even behind, children as they play and taking photographs from that perspective is also wonderful way of remaining unobtrusive.
This is also a wonderful technique when shooting photographs of multiple children. Capturing their interaction from multiple angles can document not only their play time, but also the dynamics of their relationship in a very special way.
Similarly, climbing up on a play structure as children remain below or staying at the bottom of a hill as the children climb up offers a unique angle that just might showcase a bit of their personalities that wouldn’t shine through from a standard angle, as can crouching down on the ground beside them.
These two simple tips can elevate an average snapshot to a photograph of which a professional would be proud.