We wanted to write a blog about how we photograph the little ones, but before we start, I do want to say these are just the things that we’ve learnt along the way. We love what we do and love being around families, so these are some of the things that we’ve noticed as we go. These work if you are being paid to photograph children / families, or if you own some children and it’s a quick guide to some of the things we’ve do at most of our family shoots.
Don’t talk to children like children.
What we mean by this is, don’t be patronising towards them, they might be little, but they are more aware emotionally of what’s going on than you. When I’ve gone into shooting a family with children from say the ages of 4 and 10, I’ll get my camera out but just place it on the side and continue talking to the parents. I’ll always say hello to the children but the last thing that I want is to overwhelm them before we’ve even take a picture. Use this time to notice what they’re wearing, if they have something with them that they secretly want to talk about and you can pick up on that. A couple of years ago now both Ashton and Logan were obsessed with Pokemon and took a deck of cards everywhere we went, they were just waiting for a moment to spring up a conversation. The first 10 mins meeting children are really important, so forget about camera settings or what the images are going to look like, be aware of their body language and what kind of people they are now. Try not to talk down to them as they won’t respond well later.
Get down on their level
It’s sounds like a really obvious one but getting on their eye level really makes a huge difference. If you’re explaining what you’re going to, and if it’s possible, I’d sit on the floor, connect with them, watch their movements and if they are nervous about being there. I’ve always thought it so important to treat them like they are an adult. I mean, the conversation might be a little different and a bit more sporadic but it’s just about taking the time and treating them with respect, as I guess you would want to. Now what do you do if they don’t want to play ball? If the thought of camera and you makes them want to run away and hide?
So our sessions when people ask, are an hour long, but we don’t have a limit on this and if we’ve got to sit on the floor and just chat for a bit then that’s what we’re going to do. These images are saving a part of time, when this is what life was like and things will change so it’s important that you wait and enjoy it if you can.
If and where you can capture the movement, ask them to run towards their parents or run to a tree, get rid of that nervous energy and make sure you are ready for when they are passing you at speed. In the middle of it all, get them to stop and look into the camera while they catch a breath. Sometimes it can be so important to let them explore.
Watch and wait
The perfect photograph will not appear in front of you without a bit of watching and waiting. As we mentioned before, making sure the child/ren are comfortable with you is key, this allows them to be more natural and more themselves. So while they are running around or stopping for a breath or a cuddle with mum or dad. wait for those moments when you can put yourselves in a position to capture. Approach with care and document those natural expressions. Try not to direct too much. I guess you need to think of yourself as a documentary photographer, someone who will carefully take in each detail, sense the feeling in the room and pay attention to the energies and emotions. Being in tune with a child and noticing how they work, will repay you 100% when it comes to taking real, everyday pictures of children.
We hope that these small techniques we have picked up in our years of photographing children will help you in your quest to document either your own, or indeed, other families for professional purposes.
Book in some time and enjoy the experience. I think you’ll be surprised at how much difference these small ideas make!