Let’s be honest here, photographing kids as beautiful as they are, can be a bit tricky at times. If you have children yourself, I guess you’ll already know that it’s tough to catch them when they are not mid sentence, running around, face planting or even grinning at you like a loon. (always a favourite)
BUT, there are ways to make it a little easier.
Here are our tried and tested tips for taking better, more natural photographs of children.
1 - Find a location first
Location scouting may sound a bit dull but actually it’s a good excuse to get outside and test how a place could work for you. All you need is something that’s not miles away from the house/car/food but with somewhere they can run free and with some good bits of light. Finding it first means you can gently navigate as you go along.
2- It’s not about you
As soon as you realise that children aren’t really so bothered about who you are, where you’re from or which camera you’re using (unless it’s a polaroid.. most kids LOVE a magic camera!) it’s much easier to connect with them. Taking more soulful images needs you to be ‘with them’ watching their emotional and physical cues. Take yourself out of it, watch, listen and allow the child to guide you.
3- Choose your light and play around with it
Rather than running frantically from one location to another, use your energy to really keep your eyes open for areas with different light. Allow the kids to run free while you look around, then ask one at a time for them to come over and take a few portraits. From one spot, it usually only takes a few small re-adjustments to find ‘backlight’, ‘harsh light’, ‘dappled light’ and ‘even light’ under the shelter of a tree.
4- Tell a story
While they are running around free, follow along. Take images of their hands reaching out, feet in the wet grass, hair flowing freely in the wind. Somehow kids usually kinda like how haphazard and non structured you are, and in turn it earns their trust. Take a wide shot to show how small they are in contrast to our big world then move in closer to shoot different elements of their faces, shoulders, finer details that create a full picture.
5- Make it fun and free feeling
Most children will love the chance to connect with the outdoors and be free of restraints for awhile. That also means parental restraints too. If you can have a little talk to the adults (or yourself if it’s your own family) before hand and let them know you don’t really care what their kids do, as long as they are ‘themselves’ and ‘natural’ and allow them to feel comfortable that you will guide them. This way, the whole family can enjoy the experience and have lasting memories of being outdoors, wild and free.
6- Enjoy it
It’s not often we’re able to allow our children this time to just be themselves. There are so many expectations on them that it can be an absolute joy to watch and capture their uninhibited, natural souls in this way. These days are fast and fleeting. Grab every chance you get and enjoy immersing yourself in how they see the world around them.