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by Rachel Devine
How to take gorgeous photos of your kids
Credits and Copyright
Written by: rachel devine www.racheldevine.com Publisher: darren rowse www.digital-photography-school.com Producer: Jasmin tragas Graphic Design/Layout: naomi Creek email@example.com
Version 1.0 ©Copyright 2011 rachel devine all rights reserved. no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, without prior written consent from the publisher, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. you may store the pdf on your computer and backups. you may print one copy of this book for your own personal use. disclaimer: the information contained in this book is based on the author’s experience, knowledge and opinions. the author and publisher will not be held liable for the use or misuse of the information in this book.
Credits & Copyright About the Author A word from Darren Rowse Introduction THINK PREPARE SMILE REFINE RESEARCH PUSH LOOK Remember 2 4 5 6 10 17 33 49 62 75 84 99
Teaching people how to take great photographs has become her passion and her book on photographing life will be released by Amphoto/Random House in 2012. Nowadays she shoots commercially in the children’s industry and shares her personal work on her popular daily-life photoblog.sesameellis. Her focus in her photography has always been kids. Rachel is based in Melbourne. website: www. Australia.about the author Rachel Devine is a photographer who has been honing her craft ever since she got her first real camera at the age of fourteen.com/sesameellis twitter: @sesameellis photo by Linda nguyen . whether it was her nieces and nephews growing up or her first clients when she opened her business in 1995.racheldevine. An American expat mom of three.com facebook: facebook.com blog: www.
a word from darren rowse Over the years I’ve noticed a change in what I’m pointing my camera at. It is a fun but not always easy challenge—so I’ve been really looking forward to this ebook. My goal is to capture daily life. While in the past it’s all been about landscapes and travel subjects. lately it’s been pointing almost exclusively at my kids. they tell stories and reflect the lives of those she photographs. In the coming pages you’ll learn why that is the case—Rachel’s approach to photography and teaching in this ebook will help many to capture the day-to-day lives of families. Rachel Devine’s photography was the first thing that grabbed my attention about her. My hope is that you’ll come away from reading this informed and inspired book to photograph the colorful and vibrant little people in your life. Darren Rowse Editor of Digital Photography School . not just staged portraits. As a father of three young boys I now know the joy and challenges of photographing kids. Over the last five years I’ve taken it upon myself to capture the life of our growing family. more importantly to me. Her images are beautiful but. I want to capture images that reflect the personalities and experiences of my kids.
While tips and tricks abound for achieving that coveted natural smile and eye contact from a still and cooperative child. people have been searching for the holy grail on how to photograph children.introduction ever since the first family snapshots were taken. Both capture different elements of her personality and. We’ll seek out inspiring ways of capturing them as emerging little beings all the way through to adulthood. it’s undoubtedly a thrill to coax a child to look directly into the lens and lock perfect focus. however. not only for the photographer but the viewer as well. the goal is to create images that will not only stay on our walls. introdUCtion 6 . i’m here to ask the question: is this really all we want? i’m here to make you think differently about the images you’re creating and help you to not only capture that smile. but in people’s hearts and minds for generations to come. when presented together in a whole gallery of varied shots. in this ebook. images must be meaningful. there’s merit in that simple but beautiful form of portraiture. i hope you’ll find here that there’s more to kid photography than that smile and eye contact about which so much has been written. better represent the child as she was at that moment in her life than one image or the other alone. These two images of the same girl were taken on the same day. we’ll explore together the question of why we should and how we can create beautiful photographs of children that say something about them personally. but do even better: get the shots that make you smile.
Sometimes this is a matter of not having time to learn—often they purchase a camera at the same time as they have their first child. I feel we need to photograph more than just the pretty portraits. and she has a sweet smile with direct eye contact. The light is nice. I know those mornings when the children have grown and changed overnight. Maybe you’re looking to branch out into that specialty professionally. Her overwhelmingly larger-than-life personality is hidden in this pretty portrait. To honor this extraordinary time of life. and there’s both technical and artistic knowledge to be gained from every session spent with your small subjects. That is the one I would be more likely to frame and hang in my home.introduction Children change daily. Other people might be attracted to child photography because they assume it must be an easy job. A lot of people seem to skip the essential steps of learning the basics of photography before declaring themselves kid photographers. Let me tell you. that image tells you nothing about my daughter—in fact. it’s almost misleading. introdUCtion 7 . By way of example. but almost always fun. but the one on the bottom is truly her. Clover. The only thing is. it is rarely easy. This ebook is a guide for anyone who has a working knowledge of photography and feels motivated to take better photographs of children. I’d like to share with you this portrait of my daughter. The image of Clover on the far left is sweet and pretty. As a mother. Clover is a wild and crazy little thing who’s rarely still. or more likely you want the best images of your own family that you can get. the colors are warm.
but l It is not tion. and thoughtful of the shots you are creating. which can help you to transform your own photography. introdUCtion 8 . Confidence with and knowledge of your equipment are also essential for success in photographing a child. but also improve the shots you actually take. and thought-provoking questions and exercises. so it’s vital to be fun and spontaneous.introduction The topics in this book are designed for those who are familiar with the basics of light and exposure beyond auto mode. kid ph Children’s photography is its own genre. including practical advice on setup and safety while working with the littlest of models. covering every type of child out there. you will be sure to make purposeful choices each time you take pictures. varied techniques. yet always respectful. but we draw much inspiration from other styles and traditions. This mindful shooting will not only minimize the amount of time spent sorting and editing all your images. We’ll extend your knowledge by exploring the best camera settings and exposure when photographing children in wide-ranging contexts. this book is also full of hints to help you work with children of all ages. Kids can be your toughest customer. Meanwhile. We look at different methods of children’s portraiture through storytelling. we’ll also discuss how crucial it is to be free from false expectations of perfection from both your subjects and your camera. that preparaprove your will imotography. uck. When you understand the rules of photography and how to control your camera. observant.
It will also require you to refine your work. introdUCtion 9 . 2. All of these factors have to become part of your practice. breathe in inspiration. Think back to the last image of a child that you saw or took yourself that moved you. ? CONSIDER 1. and not shy away from pushing yourself. This can be achieved with contemplation. Write your answers down in a journal or on your blog. Write three words that describe your child photography style. and in the end your kid photography—whether it’s for work or for just love—will shine. Write three different words that you would like to describe your child photography style. Persevere. look hard. 3. and write down three elements of the image that make it remarkable.introduction At the end of each chapter you’ll see three thoughts for you to consider after taking in the information you’ve just gone through. and to explore the more elusive aim of capturing meaningful images of children. and a lot of patience and smiles. and begin putting your answers into practice. preparation. My goal for this book is to inspire you to go beyond merely pondering how you might take a pretty picture of a child.
THINK how to make every shot count .
but for my clients as well. my father was never a relaxed man. i remember that we were all told to wear tan pants and navy tops. but that moment. I’d been learning photography and making images for twelve years. would have been the perfect portrait. But there are no photos of that moment that so characterized my family and its dynamic. and the photographer got ready to shoot. sits on a couch in my mother’s home next to a table filled with family memories. that is. the photographer didn’t think to take shots. But it isn’t an entirely truthful portrait of our family. but we were waiting for my brother. revealing moments i strive to capture when i photograph my own family or any client’s.Left: My son. but one day the importance to me of great child portrait photography was made crystal clear in an instant. that was my family. We gathered outside. the love of his life. Right: Today I record family history not only for me. you see. Kieran. I knew how much I loved what I was doing. and we all match nicely in our coordinated outfits. paul. that image is priceless to us because my father looks well and happy as he sits next to my mother. the photograph reveals no signs of the cancer that would take him from us two years later. a story a family treasure hangs in my mother’s bedroom: a beautiful family photograph taken in the fall of 1997. and had been running my own business as a children’s photographer for almost two. a photograph of paul in the red sweater. the autumn leaves are beautiful. it was a perfectly planned little prank—paul had the blue top hidden underneath. and it certainly doesn’t represent the full story of that day. It happened when I was twenty-six years old. My father was growing increasingly irritated. and he expected everything in his life to run in a certain order. and it’s these unexpected. paul eventually came running out of the house apologizing for the delay—and wearing a bright red sweater. and in the end. I want to tell you about the ah-ha moment for me and my photography. laughing with the rest of us in our matching outfits. We all exploded into laughter—all of us except my father. who’d flown from denver for the reunion and was still inside getting ready. who was steaming. This was the moment that really taught me to think about photography. all five of his children liked to challenge that order a little for fun. it did make my father laugh too. thinK 11 . that day. he was a very important doctor.
that moment with my family makes me constantly aware of how i think about kid photography. it’s a shame to represent them with the same old formulas every time. and it usually seems that all they aspire to is a photo of their perfectly settled child smiling at the camera. it’s something far beyond nice. parents often struggle to even take a clear photo of their child. the most meaningful shot of my kids that I have taken.real. is it just a picture. but a photographic portrait.. it whispers. a photographic portrait tells a story. it really is an important task. the photographer may have gotten a lot of straight portraits and then spent a bit of time editing them each to plastic perfection. the difference can be subtle. offers so much more. they suddenly realize that they were actually hoping for something more than just those elements. especially if the gallery is filled with images that all look much the same. focused. upon showing their client the traditionally posed pictures they’ve created. to hear the parent say that while the images are lovely.. i’m constantly asked by parents not only he You’re enting t documsal moments univer dhood. let alone one that reveals the child’s true self. it sings. yet when a parent sees a clear. thinK 12 . i approach every session ready to thoughtfully capture what i can of my subjects’ true personalities and relationships. you’re capturing their story as it unfolds for years to come. Children are so open to the wonders of daily life and so fully engaged in every experience that they make such fascinating subjects. but of chil iqueness of the un cular child. how they can get any picture at all of their child. one of the biggest disappointments for a child portrait photographer is. or is it some small aspect of a person’s story that reflects of their life? assuredly there’s merit in nice-looking pictures. but the uniqueness of a particular child. and well-lit image from a professional photographer. years later.take a moment to ask yourself what a portrait means to you. true and titled “My Beautiful Mess”. a parti To this date. you’ll be capturing their connections with the people around them. the shoot doesn’t tell the complete story. and such an honor. they’re just not representative of their child. but pretty though they may be. you’re not only documenting the universal moments of childhood. a photograph of life. if you’re taking photos of children. but the impact is huge.
I feel that with the emergence of digital photography in our daily lives. because i was too preoccupied with taking 47 headshots to ensure the eyes were so sharp you could cut paper with their image. it’s as if the emphasis of a great child portrait is no longer on the moment captured. thinK 13 . in a nutshell. it wasn’t intentional. Back in the early days of digital photography. i was able to pinpoint that downturn to when i began working solely in digital. i soon dropped the film and switched completely to digital. i was overshooting just because i could. In a nutshell. that was when i’d become trapped in that myth of digital perfection and adopted a new shooting style in which i stopped thinking as i photographed. and it wasn’t until i stopped to really look deeply at my work that i spotted the pattern. i feel that with the emergence of digital photography in our daily lives. Maybe it’s time for me to explain a little bit about myself to illustrate what I term the myth of digital perfection as it relates to kid photography—we’ll return to this notion throughout the chapters to come. there were too many photos of the same setup after i’d clearly achieved the shot. but on how manipulated and unreal the final edited version of the image can be. it had just happened unconsciously over time. it’s as if the emphasis of a great child portrait is no longer on the moment captured. i was missing all the other more interesting stuff going on. i’m certain that there were unique moments and pockets of light all around me which were never recorded. and not long afterwards i had a realization about my own work: at some point i’d become a worse photographer than i was when i started out all those years before. and photography is also somewhat erroneously perceived as something that is free now that the cost of purchasing and processing film is no longer part of the equation. but on how manipulated and unreal the final edited version of the image can be. i learned the new medium on my nikon d100 while still shooting film alongside it for my business. And photography is also somewhat erroneously perceived as something that is free now that the cost of purchasing and processing film is no longer part of the equation.the Myth of digital perfection Maybe it’s time for me to explain a little bit about myself to illustrate what i term the myth of digital perfection as it relates to kid photography—we’ll return to this notion throughout the chapters to come.
Freckles like these should never be smoothed over or cloned out! thinK 14 . and thought i should. really. it was just as if i had been shooting film and more mindful of waste. as i look back over my first-ever digital images. two. i recognized it popping up everywhere else. is “hey. Close enough became good enough for me when previously. one. new photographers learning on digital were just shooting and shooting and seemingly hoping for the best. color. My focus on what made a good image had shifted with my adoption of digital photography. with film. kids are not that saturated and smooth! i think the worst failing was that over time. the work was becoming a lot of quantity and a little of quality. it will cost you lots of precious time and all at the expense of actually learning what makes a great photograph. the problem was that i wasn’t stopping to actually think about why i was making the choices i was. but more images that they loved. there were only a few frames per subject or setup. Fill up your huge memory cards. i notice several things. it went beyond the minor exposure. they knew the basic rules of photography and shot with those in mind. it also fell short of a style that i was thoughtfully pursuing with the new freedom of digital editing. i began letting my in-camera exposure slide. it was simply over-editing because i could. it’s digital. Back in the day before digital was king. they planned and scouted. and contrast adjustments that were once the realm of the lab and correspondingly needed in small amounts for any digital image. the wisdom given out to new photographers. even in the fast-paced genre of kid photography. they composed purposefully. and they exposed skillfully.another major issue with my transition to digital was that perfectly fine images were suffering from over-processing in photoshop. so go and capture as many images at one time as you can.” although this approach may not cost money in terms of buying and developing film. especially parentographers and advanced amateurs who want to work with kids. i had no choice but to get it right as i pressed the shutter button. My camera was not on auto mode. this realization became a turning point in my work. in the end they had fewer frames. and once i saw it in my own work. nowadays. photographers took their time to think through their shots. but my creativity was. my images were pretty much perfectly exposed in the camera. that was how people learned.
Relying on the spray-and-pray method of shooting, parents (and too many portrait photographers who work with children) often take hundreds of images at once hoping they’ll chance on a good one. There’s certainly some benefit to shooting a group portrait on sports mode, where the camera takes a lot of images in succession with one press of the shutter button—at least there’s a fair chance of capturing one shot where everyone’s eyes are open. But when photographing a child, relying on burst mode isn’t necessarily a good idea.
Learning to see
too many shots and not enough learning how to actually see what makes a better photo can cost you more time and work sorting through them all on the computer. and if you’re overly focused on the task of shooting as many images of one scene as possible, it may cause you to miss seeing other photo opportunities and thinking hard to develop ideas. a photographer of any style or genre needs to understand how to be a good viewer. to learn how to communicate with your audience—be it formed by parents or followers of your blog, if you’re in the habit of sharing your work online—you need to recognize the elements of great photography so that you can employ them in your own work. not everyone who views your photographs will have the same background or life experiences as you, but there are some universal elements present in all great photographs. these should always be considered when creating images that are more than just a snapshot destined to be forgotten on a hard drive. Learn to identify these in the images that you love, and you’ll be able to adopt them into your own work naturally. Learn to see your own work and perceive what it is you’re saying to the person who sees your image.
tographer A pho tyle or of any s eds to genre neand how underst ood viewer. to be a g
so by all means, take lots of photographs if you love to take pictures, but make each shot count. With a little perception and preparation, you can both elevate your work and find more fulfillment in creating it. you need to factor in time to think about your own work and what you hope to gain from your images before you start shooting. in the chapters to come, i’ve pulled out all my own tricks of the trade for you to get kids to sit still and look at the camera, and i’ve also compiled inspiring information about artistic genres for you to distill into your own practice. overall, i encourage you to gain a good understanding of the balance of fun, timing, patience, and letting go that’s required to photograph children. and perhaps most of all, i want you to forget about focusing on taking great pictures of kids in favor of working on taking great photographs that happen to feature kids. everyone likes a pretty picture; however, a great photograph has the power to move you.
I made sure that not only I got the beautiful and simple portrait for my client, but also plenty of candid shots while their gorgeous daughter played in the equally gorgeous surroundings.
1. Write out in detail your ah-ha photographic moment. 2. List the elements you consider essential to making a great image. 3. Think about your shooting style and identify the areas you would like to work on (shooting fewer images, better in-camera exposure, more variety).
the right gear to get you started
get that camera out of the bag and have it with you always. but it’s not quite photography 101. it should fit right in. it goes without saying that a solid understanding of the exposure triangle is a must. reading any beginner books alongside this one will just enhance the learning experience from the start for you. Digital Photography School has some great texts to get you started there. you’ll have so much to manage with the subject matter alone that you cannot waste time fumbling around looking for a certain menu setting or making wild guesses on exposure— you’ll risk losing that small window of cooperation from your subject. children won’t react to it in a negative way. especially with little kids. which means that the first step on the road to compelling photography is knowing what this tool can do. shutter speed. and aperture. the camera shouldn’t interrupt the flow of your day. you need to at least be familiar with the principles of exposure. if you need to start from scratch learning the rules of exposure and camera function basics. Work towards picking it up and putting it down as you would your phone. in terms of the result of the balance between iso.out and within reach. Learn to use it until it feels natural in your hands. When taking photos happens seamlessly. but also know exactly what you’re doing with it. First of all. While very sophisticated these days. where thinking on your feet is essential. The path to creative freedom begins by you liberating yourself from the false expectations of perfection that you think you’ll gain from having your camera on auto. When the camera is to accomplish this. your camera body. the camera still can’t think creatively. i will be going into some detail. rather than being a production. but a veritable mechanic’s garage of options and combinations. it also helps to have a mental set list of starting combinations. it will lose its novelty to children and be as normal to them as any other everyday appliance. Being prepared is crucial to being free to follow your creative instinct when you shoot. Learn to regard your camera as merely a tool with which you can create images that express what you envision. and you need to be prepared to document it. photographic equipment varies greatly in quality and complexity. it’s vital that you become familiar with the basics of exposure and your gear before trying to work in a genre such as child photography. and post-processing software alone are not just a tool kit. prepare 18 . lens selection. you must not only keep your camera out and handy. Having the camera out and within reach ensures that I will always remember the fleeting moments of life with small children. Life simply happens.
they’re most often found through a series of in-camera menu options. since sharp focus can be compromised by too large a move by the photographer when they recompose the shot. or by the subject’s movement. moving the actual focal points themselves often achieves a more accurate result. Picking the best method of focus is essential to getting great images of children. or want to avoid using your camera’s built-in flash. the key to achieving images that look the way you want them to look is to understand what aspect is most important to the image. when they were simply aiming for shallow depth of field. whether they are moving or you are recomposing your frame. Most of the time the auto white balance setting will do a fine job. For example. if freezing the action at your child’s sports game is your priority. but some can be adjusted with external controls. so shutter speed is going to be important—yet it’s often left behind for the more favored aperture setting. there are two top choices for focusing: use the center spot. if you want to isolate your child from the background and get a lovely fuzzy bokeh behind them. if you are shooting in low light and don’t have a flash. then a fast shutter speed will lead the exposure settings. every dsLr has the control for these different settings placed in different spots. parents frequently become confused about why all their shots suffer from blur. a high iso is going to be the first variable you set. prepare 19 . since kids are rarely still. as you’ll inevitably be doing some chasing after your subjects. you need to start with a wide aperture. and along with autofocus is one of the tasks i encourage kid shooters to leave to their cameras. and then recompose. this is another reason i suggest you spend some time getting to know your camera. so make sure to consult your camera manual for the directions pertaining to your specific model. Focus might be one of the hardest things to master for the photographer new to shooting children—the coordination needed by the photographer to freeze an image of the lively subject requires practice. or move the focal point. Make sure the white balance is set appropriately.Camera settings and exposure Kids move fast. Master all the other variable menu settings on your camera as well as the ones that control proper exposure. as those buttons and menu combinations need to be second nature to facilitate easy and quick shooting. start with the exposure control that regulates that element and work backwards through the triangle. focus. the best way to ensure sharp images is to learn how to use and change the focal points. you need to be confident and adept with the autofocus method that you use.
it will be an extra processing step that will require some time spent in adobe Camera raW or Lightroom. this is what i use for all of my daily life photography. so have your camera settings all ready before placing them in the scene. but these are easily fooled and more often than not result in out-of-focus shots—the mechanism just isn’t fast enough to deal with the quick movements of child subjects. like bunnies. sharpness. not setting up. sharpness. Be mindful that the settings choices you make will be applied to your file in-camera. so C r spans apend all your don’t setting up and time s s great shots! so mis prepare 20 . shooting in Jpeg will be fine for your purposes—in fact. i’ve carefully set up the picture controls in my dsLr so that my Jpegs come out needing as little processing as possible. which focuses on the object nearest to the lens. if you’re shooting professionally it really is best to shoot in the most neutral and unprocessed file possible. Kids are quick.another option is setting closestsubject focus. you can move on to setting the scene. especially photo shoots—it should be used for capturing the shots. and are confident with the principles of exposure. attention s hildren’e short. you can set the camera to output the images with saturation. if you’re simply trying to take better photographs of your own children. since you only have a certain amount of their time available to you— children’s attention spans run short for everything. prepare everything you possibly can ahead of bringing in your little model. and contrast can be more finely tuned in your postprocessing. raW—all the saturation. which will also help the shoot to run smoothly. and contrast to your liking—most dsLrs have quite detailed picture controls that you can adjust through the in-camera menu. i change over to closest-subject focus when i’m shooting from the hip or doing arms-length self-portraits. and you’ll essentially be stuck with those results. some of the less-expensive dsLr bodies aimed at amateur photographers have face recognition and other fancy trackingfocus options. setup once you’re familiar with how your camera works. this way.
The big sister’s feet and the toy croc are a perfect juxtaposition to the baby. that may seem like an extreme example. having everything ready to go will lessen the risk of missed shots. Make sure that you scan your viewfinder or LCd carefully. When you place objects near your subject. Whatever you decide on. this is an especial risk for those relying on burst mode. The environment is essential to the narrative of the shot. Juxtaposition this really is an extension of the setting up the environment section. prepare 21 . it’s silly as well as appearing dangerous. if the child gives you the perfect expression as the very first snap. Make sure that the elements in your image make sense to that image. but it’s something i’ve seen all too often. this choice is perhaps second only to the subject in terms of the narrative of the photograph. Documenting my daughter’s first big trip into our new home city of Melbourne meant dressing up in her beautiful clothes (to her) and a trip to the graffiti covered lanes (to me) which are both represented in this one image from that day. incongruous objects should not be placed in the frame with children—placing a baby in a cooking pot with a chef’s hat and a wooden spoon is not cute. but to make sure that there are no trees or other objects seemingly growing out of your child’s head due to their placement in the frame. make sure to meter the available light before you bring the child into the setting. as it will mean hundreds of unusable shots. parked cars on the road behind your child don’t make an appealing background. you create a relationship between them. but may not be the right context for photographing a newborn baby.environment think about the environment for your image. you need to give careful consideration to the elements you pull together in the frame of the image. What does or does not work for your particular subject? an urban feel may work really well for an edgy teenager’s portrait. not only for the distracting background elements you may have missed.
the difference is context and intent— your model has chosen her wardrobe because it means something to her. it probably is. how ever colorful and crazy. Just remember to keep the safety of the kids in mind because while posing your toddler in that cool tree may have seemed like a good idea at the time. but they are also really dangerous. Compromising on safety is never worth it. safety if it looks dangerous. the stronger your statement. the safety of children must take priority over a cool shot. those newborns suspended from a branch are done through a composite of at least two images in photoshop. the fewer the elements you include. prepare 22 Keep. just make sure to keep your background simple to avoid overwhelming the image and to highlight the importance of the outfit. surrounded by a giant bunch of balloons. the impact is lost. a child may dictate the scene with their favorite clothes. When your subject is clad in bright colors. and placed in a busy environment. even if you use old unused tracks. Let me say that again. it won’t be if they slip off while you are out of their reach. Other times. your viewer won’t know their usage history and it will appear that you posed a child on regular functional train tracks—thus creating an image of a child in a dangerous situation.styling Keep it simple. and the baby is supported at all times. It. but never leave a child alone near water while you fetch your camera. i am also going to suggest that sometimes you let your little models do their own styling. have a helper on hand just out of camera range whose duty it is to dive in and save the child if needed. something similar goes for posing little ones who have just learned to sit up on top of surfaces other than the floor—if they topple quickly. choosing their own wardrobe so you can portray the sheer mess of colors and patterns they find beautiful. . Simple. there’s a risk you’ll be too far away taking their photo to catch them. in cases like this. Bath time and swimming lessons can make for fun photo opportunities. train tracks may provide strong leading lines and a natural frame. in what may seem like a u-turn. Sometimes an expression and colorful chipped nail polish is all an image needs to become a favorite. think of photography as telling the story of someone in the least number of elements. those tricky poses are tricks and should only be done by photographers who are highly trained and working with assistants. Capture it all in the most simple and thoughtful way you can. and it’s her story you’re telling. so look for texture in an old trellis for your background or find a walkway for those leading lines.
and everfluctuating moods and levels of cooperation. i find that if children are fed dinner early enough. We often hear the blanket statement to avoid harsh lighting. shadow. For the most part. Kids have none of those wrinkles or bumps. of course. meal times. but that’s really only because adults prefer to avoid the blemishes that are enhanced in that sort of light. prepare 23 . one cool aspect of lighting and working with kids is that you can use light that might not be as flattering for an adult. A combination of strong direct lighting from the only window in the bathroom. the lines of the tiles in the environment and a simple black and white conversion make this image of my tired daughter during evening bath time something striking. you must become a true available-light photographer. or bright spots in portraits. that golden hour will change according to seasons and location in the world— icelandic summers actually see this wonderful light in the hours around midnight—so bedtimes will mean this mightn’t be an option all year round. able to shoot with whatever light is available to you when your model is ready. they’ll be happy for an excuse to postpone bedtime by frolicking in the gorgeous magic hour as the sun is setting—well worth it for the most even and warm natural light possible. Walk around and find your favorite spots. merely knowing when the light is best is not enough.Light photography is all about light. but with children as your models. and make notes of how the light changes over the course of the day. you must also coordinate your shoots with nap times. you’ll need to be comfortable with using more than natural lighting if you want to work with children. soon you’ll get the hang of the balance of the light and the model’s different schedules. find the best light in your own home. it could be those big windows that are never in direct sun but create lovely soft light all day long. so go ahead and experiment with that contrast. it could be that characterful chair and lamp that will allow for dramatic directionally lit images. also.
the white surface reflects light onto your model. An external flash unit pointed at a white ceiling and fired through a diffuser like the one made by Gary Fong created an almost studio look to this shot. which will fill in the shadow areas. the manual for your external flash or your camera will have specific instructions for your model. you can modify the light from the flash unit in the following ways: Diffusing Create a bigger light source by having the flash fire through material that will spread the light. or a simple homemade contraption of items found in almost every mother’s handbag: white tissues and a rubber band.Learning how to modify light is the easiest step in that direction. working alone to photograph my own kids. all these hallmarks of direct flash leave images looking quite artificial. it will cause the subject to be quite bright and the background to be much darker. and its sheen is bright enough without causing the subject to squint. i’ve been able to bend foam core in such a way that it stands up by itself.control. which requires a reflective surface. the pop up flash on your camera will cause harsh and unflattering shadows and contrast in your image. a white foam core board from the local office supply store is a cheap and light reflector. the camera will lower the output of the flash to allow in a little extra ambient light. Unless the light is softened somehow. Used bare. i have several sizes stored in the back of the car and in our garage for impromptu photo sessions. the professional foil fabriccovered reflectors are usually too harsh for kids to look at—and also a lot more expensive to replace when stepped on by your rowdy models! as a mom. however. there are times when you may need to use it. prepare 24 . you can modify the light in any situation in several different ways. if you’re shooting on all-manual settings. Lowering Output set the flash to fire as a fill flash. Modification is the key to making the flash as natural-looking as possible. you can adjust the output on most flashes with a +/. you can even cut a shooting hole out of the middle of the foam core and take advantage of some amazing front fill light. the easiest and most flattering is to bounce light back onto your subject. on-camera flash units can be easily covered with either a store-bought accessory such as omniBounce. it also leaves the tiny little pin catchlights in your subject’s eyes. While i recommend turning off the on-camera flash as one of the first and easiest steps to getting better-looking photos. Because it’s so affordable. i rarely have an assistant to hold my fancy professional reflectors.
but there’s a nifty contraption made for them called professor Kobre’s Light scoop. just learn how to bounce flash to fill in the shadows for a great shot! Here I had help as someone stood behind me and held a white reflector up so that I could face my external flash unit backwards and bounce the light fired from it back towards our little model. external flash units that you can attach to the hot shoe on the top of the camera can often be angled in different ways so that the light emitted can bounce off the ceiling or wall behind you. Make sure that any surface that you use to reflect light back onto your subject is as close to white as possible—anything bright-colored will cast that color onto your subject along with the light. Don’t be afraid to shoot outside at midday. its innovative design allows the light from the on-camera flash to be redirected and bounced off a ceiling or wall. prepare 25 .Bouncing it’s not easy to bounce an on-camera flash that only faces forward.
or even use your own shadow to create the same effect. people often try to use the area under trees in the park for open shade. both of which can result in overexposed areas on your subject.Flagging another way of modifying the available light in a scene by blocking is the light falling on your subject. prepare 26 . tall buildings and front porches that block the light create amazing areas of open shade almost all day long. As long as they are made of a neutral color. sun shades outside make great flags for natural light. since children are likely to be smaller than yourself—you’ll usually need to be shooting close to your subject to get the full effect of using your body as shade. you can either hold a piece of foam core in between the light source and the subject to put them into shade. but be very careful—it’s tricky to spot the yellow-green color cast reflected up from the ground covering. and the dappled light coming through the branches and leaves.
then instead of exposing for the child. if your children are touching. you can remove some of the pressure kids feel to perform by making a photo of them without actually pointing the camera right at them. TIP: If you can get a nice silhouette of your child’s profile. Use the shape of their body or. make sure there is a separation between their bodies or they’ll merge into one unrecognizable black blob.silhouettes While you’re playing with backlighting one day. they are a great way to add interest to a shot and even record yourself with your kids. but also be able to record some of the glorious colors in the sky that would otherwise be lost in overexposure. prepare 27 Silhouettes and shadows make for interesting variations on the straight portrait. from the playroom wall as the light comes in the windows to the tennis courts as you watch your kids practice late in the day. it can be very reminiscent of old silhouette cutouts—a nice little twist on modern portraiture. expose for the sky behind them. try to get a great silhouette of your child. which will throw them into darkness. When you use them creatively. Look for your shadows everywhere. shadows shadows are a beautiful key to evoking the feeling of being someplace with your child. this is a wonderful thing to do at sunset. as you’ll not only create a fun photo of your child. Make sure the light is behind your subject. . if you have more than one child. the shape of them holding hands to create an iconic image.
think of composition as part of the grammar of this language.Composition What you leave out is often as important as what you include. you might celebrate the mess with photographs as well. Life with kids is messy. Angles photography is a visual language and the angle with which you shoot the photograph is an integral part of the structure of the story you are telling. people will see what you want them to see. is that quilt cover too busy? Flip it over to the plain side. that the choices you make should serve a purpose. and make them feel special. you have a lot of control over the story that you tell. fill it with b laundry ter in the scene. fill it with any clutter in the scene. Gasket. involve them in the process. as an example of mess being treasure. grab an empty laundry basket. show them a certain respect when you make the effort to physically go down to their level. Use simple colored backgrounds. and that mess isn’t always relevant to the story you’re telling with your image. show them their images on the screen. slide it o prepare 28 . as a photographer. get in close or zoom in to avoid catching the background in your lens. Learn how to set-dress real life. photography is a common language that even kids can understand. through your images. Conversely. a massive collection of polly pocket dolls may be very important to your daughter at this stage in her life. slide it out of frame. s o set-drepsy t earn howrab an em t L real life. any clut ut of frame.
when used well. and even the crumbs on the floor add detail. the mountains of toys. a shiny appliance. prepare 29 . photograph the details: eyelashes. they become the road map to the subject in your image. or even the toy they’re grasping with their tiny hands. The bird’s eye portrait of the baby reminds me just how tiny my son once was. toes. or a fixture to catch the child when they don’t realize the camera is trained on them. lines are everywhere. Curved or straight. the overshadowing furniture. Composition alone adds so much to the story in each portrait. Reflections: Use a reflection in a mirror. Lines Using lines in your images helps guide the viewer’s eye to what is most important. immerse yourself in their world. Close Up: Children’s faces are so perfect and beautiful that it’s great to fill the frame with them. Far Away: step back and photograph the child in their big world. move around the child and record what they’re doing. Bird’s Eye: Break your eye-level angle by shooting from above. it could be the leash of a toy animal being dragged along behind. emphasizing their smallness. These two shots are up at the top of my list of personal favorites. Getting Down: From a child’s perspective. Capture that world to add their point of view to your photographic story. Photographing my daughter looking at herself in the mirror represents the beginning of her independence and growing self-awareness as she started her first year of real school. the world is so massive. or the path of the sidewalk stretching out in front of the subject. Whether you take a picture of them reading a book or playing with a toy car.Peeking: instead of taking a straight-on portrait. Looking down will help tell your story from unexpected points of view.
if you have to do a lot of exposure correction in post-production. watch the color on skin—avoid that bright orange territory. keep the original files in case you want to go back to them as technology. the skin tones can become a real mess. which doesn’t look nice on anyone.Color While a pop of color is great. also. shooting to expose for proper skin tones is an idea that will never go out of style. get the exposure right in-camera. With that said. if you want to experiment with different looks. and your skills evolve. ensure that your white balance setting is producing flattering renditions of the skin tone—not too blue and not too orange. if you’ve chosen to shoot Jpegs and have set the saturation high. start with natural colors. Keeping it as close to real life color will give your images a timeless quality to outlive the trends. prepare 30 . Celebrate childhood with color in your images. you also must make sure not to over-expose really light skin nor under-expose darker skin. and then you’ll have the freedom to play from there. don’t underestimate the power of black-and-white shots. take a few test shots and check your histogram. the over-saturated colors of digital photography and the new vintage looks may appear as dated in a few years as the school pictures of the 1980s. trends.
fill the camera’s frame as tightly as possible with your child’s face. step back and use the doorway to the child’s room as a natural frame. but it really helps capture them in their own world.Framing the frame of the camera’s viewfinder is a literal boundary. although you may be confined to the outer edges of your sensor’s frame. own wo prepare 31 . it won’t allow you scope to crop the image afterward. not only does your withdrawal give your child a break from your camera. doorway e Use the ural fram as a nat elps capture which h ld in their your chirld. Stepping back. What you include and where the frame is placed is an integral part of the structure of your visual story. you can find ways to highlight your subject with natural frames found in the environment. determining the canvas on which to create your image of light. there are levels to the frame that begin with the actual viewfinder’s borders and then go inward. getting down to child’s level and using the environmental elements as your frame will help set the scene. known as “a frame within a frame”. at the opposite extreme. and should be considered carefully. but it is a dramatic way to capture their ever-changing features.
Locate the menu and then refine the settings of the picture controls for JPEGs on your particular camera so that the resulting image file looks even more like you would want it straight out of the camera. i am saying that we need to shift as much emphasis onto seeing and feeling the moment with our dsLr as we do with our camera phone. We can see the lovely light without really worrying about the grain or light settings. Compile a list of ideas to try for your next photo-shoot from the ideas in this chapter. it provides instant gratification. 3. 2. ? CONSIDER 1. and we need to shift back. i couldn’t say that either is more convenient. there are even cameras now that feature digital makeup. take that pretty picture.that myth of digital perfection again so you have all these ideas down. i think we love our “phonetographs” so much because we’re free to focus on the content of the image and the moment that we’re capturing. we thoughtfully composed the photograph and then carefully exposed it. but both were magical moments not to be missed. When we know our settings and learn how to be comfortable working with kids. i’ve taken some time to think about why i love that sub-medium of digital photography so much. somehow that film mindfulness is becoming lost in digital photography. but do you find something still holding you back? Maybe that myth of digital perfection has you too focused on getting a “perfect” portrait. as i have both my smartphone and dsLr with me most of the time. remember to focus on content as well as just the perfect photo. prepare 32 . i was just expecting less perfection from my camera phone. and loving the results. to crafting painting-like visions of perfection. While i’m not suggesting that you swap over to the auto setting. i see the focus of digital photography tending to shift away from capturing the fleeting yet important moments that define our lives. Define at least three things that you feel may be holding you back creatively in photography. With the wave of smartphone popularity recently. we’ll get so much more out of our digital cameras than we ever imagined. just like my dsLr. resulting in portraits so smooth and glassy that kids just look like dolls. When did texture and detail become bad words? When film was the only option. but then refer to the tips above to try some different approaches at each session that you do. The top shot is with my camera phone and the bottom with my DSLR. You may need to consult your camera manual if you’re unfamiliar with this.
SMILE tips & tricks on Working with Kids .
if you fail to cater to specific personality types. here are tips to make all ages and temperaments easier to navigate. sometimes those personalities and moods are shown at the same time. you may go from speed bump to roadblock very fast.Whether you want to capture just that one shot or to document an entire childhood. keep smiling. and observation need to become the backbone of your practice. timing. Respect. patience. is that whatever you do. fun. you’ll find that within the same home there can be very different personality types. in addition to the varied personality types. sometimes at different times of the day. While of course we all have the ability to respond to children on an intuitive level. While some folks are naturally attuned to babies. perhaps the most fundamental tip. it will make the right kids happy and intrigue the ones with whom you’re having a hard time. While there are some universal truths to keep in mind about kids. no matter what stage of life you like capturing best. there are many facets of your own personality and skills you need to develop to work with kids of all ages. others are more comfortable working with teenagers. Like the old saying that a smile will confuse an approaching frown. though. honesty. some awareness of how to best deal with the more extreme moods will help make a shoot run much more smoothly. sMiLe 34 . the many stages that children go through as they grow up need to be understood and anticipated.
highlight just how small they are in the world. yet when you get to know their rhythms. they could cuddle together in one baby rocker. it is possible to capture their beautiful newness— after all. Sunlight from a big nearby window was gorgeous for illuminating the moment and clearing up jaundice! Left: A different way to use a chair to mark the passage of time is to actually feature it in the photographs to add a sense of scale as your child grows. a grea sMiLe 35 .Babies these are tricky little people in so many ways. raphing n photiogsafety Whe . they really can’t escape your lens. your own newborn is a great place to start—consider marking the passing of time in scale with a series of size-comparison shots in one chair or with a certain stuffed animal. no babies blue with cold—please! Above: All I need to do is look at that top photo of my newborn twins and I am taken back to that day when they first came home and were so small. keeping the baby fed and warm will ensure they are as comfortable as possible for the shoot. the r babies mfort are and co ount to getting paramt shot. and you’re completely bound to their time schedule. Focus on the connections they’re forming with the adults in their lives. While we all love the gorgeous skin of a newborn in just their diaper or even their birthday suit.
the kids of this age group will generally feed off your positive energy. either. the world is new and everything we take for granted is still wonderful. if all else fails. that will be what’s captured. it is also a relationship between the subject and the photographer. When children this age are having a great time. because you’ll have made them laugh. remember that photography is not just about light and camera equipment. and may just teach you a thing or two. and a simple statement that everyone’s going to have some fun. planning for their pattern of moods can change everything about which side of them you capture. Being silly with the toddler set will get you far and you will be rewarded with delightful smiles. think about the entertainers at a child’s birthday party: all they need to get their tiny audience excited is a smile. tell them one while you shoot. Listen to them and their ideas—these tiny people are not yet jaded. Make a trip around the backyard a magical adventure to another land. so earlier is often better.Little Kids Little kids love fun. try to coordinate the timing of the shoot with the child’s happiest time of day if you can. if you stay upbeat and energetic. this is not a time to be self-conscious. sMiLe 36 . their confidence soars and they are most willing to participate in new adventures—such as the photography shoot you’ve planned. Kids will not think you’re a fool when you act like one. you don’t have to work that hard to make kids this age happy. When kids love you and your camera. be silly. they also get tired and hungry. they think wrong words are hilarious and for the most part are the easiest creatures on the planet to keep amused. this is the age of imagination. Who can be as fascinated by a rock or a leaf as a small child? to them. it will show in the images. and little kids love stories. if you have a happy and genuine relationship. Little children tend to fall apart around four in the afternoon. maybe some music. so ensure that snack breaks are worked into long sessions—nothing brightly colored to stain faces and clothing. they’ll just love you more for it.
Begin with their idea and work with them to create the rest of the image. their true self will shine with encouragement and reassurance. Let them help tell their own story by choosing their own wardrobe and styling the shoot. tweens and teenagers are not little kids anymore. or prefer to hide behind a book. sMiLe 37 . these scenarios then will become the base plan for at least part of your shoot. also. these young adults tend to come alive in the later part of the day. the more self-aware they become in front of your camera. getting tweens and teens involved in the process is crucial to loosening them up. they may really want to share their love of horses. and remember that goofy faces and sulkiness often mask insecurity. Follow their schedule and you’ll have happier subjects. you may be running the photography session and considering your subject to be a child. aim to treat them with the same equality as you do when photographing adults. Being relaxed and happy does not always mean big grins. Unlike many little kids who are up before the sun. Getting them involved in the ideas for the shoot can be the key to their enjoyment of the process. consider the time of day.t(w)eens the older children get. but they need to feel your respect. While they may not be completely grown up. T(w)eens don’t have to smile if they don’t want to. Whether they are self-conscious or full of bravado.
as you both warm up to the session. and is nothing to be feared. and before long you. and the child remains wary and unresponsive. don’t point it at the child right away. While your camera should be there with you. so consider taking this time to photograph some tender moments of the child with the parents. this way. as a result. sometimes the parent is needed to begin the session. the camera. and the unknown can cause some anxiety for these shy types. Converse with them and follow their lead. focus your attention on the adults present. gentle introducing and trust-gaining. your subject. if this still proves to be too direct. even if the parents don’t plan to be part of the session. this doesn’t make for an impossible photographic situation. if the child sees you interacting positively with their parents. you can use these moments while they hold the child to capture detail shots or to have a tour of the home. it just requires some slow. like you. think of this stage as an exercise in necessary trust-building. they hide behind the safety of their mother’s legs at the sight of a stranger. as you would try with any skittish creature. and the camera will be getting along like old friends. is unknown to them. they’ll warm up to the idea that you must be okay after all. try taking some shadow photos if you’re outside or reflections if you’re inside. you can capture a few images of the child without having to train the camera right on them. Utilize the time that you’re getting to know your subject to also be metering the light in the room and looking for natural locations and props that are present. sMiLe 38 .shy Kids We’ve all met kids who are wary of new situations. Be patient and sensitive. making sure you get down to their level. sit with them for a while. the child will see that the camera doesn’t make loud noises and big flashes while you’re preparing.
these guys are so excited by new situations that they practically levitate with nervous energy. Let them perform for your camera. you need to be ready for that perfect window of time between their excited start and crash of being done with it all. so let these kids run off a bit of the excitement first. we’re striving to capture their true personalities—letting them enjoy the process will often be all they need to relax and let their natural happiness shine through. photography will develop a happy reputation in their minds. and they’re perpetually plastered with ear-to-ear fake grins. they actually need to wind down. sMiLe 39 . rather than requiring a warm-up period. they may not reward you with all the expressions you want. Like any photo shoot with kids.goofball Kids you’re bound to meet another type of personality that makes it a challenge to get right into a photo session: what i call the goofball kids. and that’s the best time for you to try for the images you want. after all. but start to act up as soon as you bring the camera out. but when the kids are having fun. the novelty will soon wear off. but consider this time as more of an introduction to you and your camera while the child shows off for you. you can still be taking photos. if you attempt to get started right away you’ll most probably be dragged off by the camera strap. who obviously know you. this also goes for your own kids.
if you get upset or angry. they’re going to avoid them as much as they can. the camera comes out.the “absolutely not having it no Way you Can Make Me” Kids you’ll very likely know these kids. Gemma is not always up for having her photo taken. photos sMiLe 40 . on the sit-and-stay schedule. “Would you like to take photos in your red dress or in jeans and a t-shirt today?” to help them feel ownership about what they are wearing. giving them choices that don’t include not taking photos at all usually gets them involved in the process instead of just being your model. There are days when she says “no” and I respect that. and they groan. if the kids associate photography sessions with you being cross with them. they know what you want from them. ask them if they’d like to take photos of you before or after you take their photos. and they’re not going to give it to you. the resident photographer. and start plotting our way out of it. so it’s essential that things remain fun. if they’ds Ask thetmke photo a like to before or of you ou take their after y . the negative emotions will be transferred onto the act of taking photographs for your kids. of course i treasure those photos now because my father is gone. i remember a lot of my family photo sessions being pretty stressful growing up—my father. as they’re usually your own kids on a power trip. We’d see that tripod being set up outside our beach house for the annual summer family photo. Beat them at their own game and give them the illusion of control. but the moral of the story is to remember to keep the mood light even when it’s frustrating for you. say something like. Let them “win” from a series of options that are all winners for you. often got into a bit of a yelling match with us when we weren’t exactly Contrary to what it may seem.
and fun is the key. Making the kids feel treasured no matter what their age or personality type is paramount to getting the most special images. 70mm. they may be acting up because they know just how important this session is to the grown-ups. after which your little subject can decide what they want from within that pile. so make sure you ask them to look for something that’s actually there. are you shooting someone else’s kids? Maybe they’re better for you if their parents aren’t around. f11. and then we’re able to rejoin the parents for family shots too. they and i as a team get the photos everyone wants. your job is to be a kid. have the parents pull out a selection of clothing that they’d be happy for their child to wear. if they see you as just another grown-up who wants something from them.recognize this situation. i’ve had many sessions where i sMiLe 41 . but you can easily get one to balance on there. 1/1000sec. many things can become a lens ornament. i simply get down on my knees to whisper to my little model that we’re going to go and take some photos together first before the parents join us. just about anything can become an easy and inexpensive lens ornament to get kids to look at your camera. ISO250. you want kids to trust you. 5DMII.. it’s fun. it makes the kids feel special. so like a little photography bomb-squad agent. or even put a brightly colored hair scrunchie around the lens and ask them to tell you what color it is. the happy reaction when they find it will reward your lens with a genuine expression! With a little bit of re-usable adhesive. you’ll meet with great resistance. here are more tips and tricks that i’ve gained with many years of experience: • If you’re having trouble getting eye contact from your subject. then disappear from the scene. i get in there and diffuse the tension between the children and their grown-ups. try asking them to look in the lens to watch it blink. and to be the kids’ ally.a dinosaur too! With a little blu-tack. Children know that fairies don’t live in your lens..
Kids love to be told to go and stand on the ducky! Babies like to see faces. you can use shape recognition to entice them to look at the camera. • Children are natural actors. sMiLe 42 . just like actors. this easy photo tutorial demonstrates making different shapes to go around the lens out of colored cardboard. in the film business. you may get eye contact but no lens contact. place a small sticker in the palm of the toddler’s hand. or peeking over the top or around the side of your camera. sizes. she’ll stay still long enough to check it out and try to get it off. these spots are called “marks”. • Need to keep a fast toddler still for a moment? try my sticker trick. Buy a few packs of various bathtub no-slip stickers and use them on the ground as markers for your little model to stand on. the point is to get the camera away from your face and click while you’re engaging your subject. you might even tell her to close her eyes as you do it and close it up into her little fist so that when she opens it up. so a simple game of peek-a-boo is usually the best trick. they need to know where you want them to stand. However. you can snap her great smile. if you hold your camera too far away. SHAPE TUTORIAL The instructions are easy! • Use card stock for this project so the shape will stand up and not bend over the lens • Gently place your lens face down on the color of choice • Draw a circle tightly around the innermost edge of the lens that your pencil can reach • Remove the lens and carefully cut the shape you want around the circle you just traced • Cut just inside the pencil drawn circle so as to make a smaller hole • Cut small slits in the edge of your opening so the new lens shape can slide tightly on your lens • Put your face out there and get comfortable shooting from the chin. so make sure to interact with them over or around your camera and not just from behind it. and colors. Keep a bunch of small stickers on hand (a good idea for a kid photographer anyway) for this one. they come in all shapes.• If the kids are really little. Keep a bunch small stickers of hand to enticeon toddlers to st still for a pho ay to.
you need to demonstrate what you want so that they don’t feel as though they’re being left to figure it out themselves. tapping toes. such as “photographer says”. • Being so visual. sMiLe 43 . and make sure their hands are relaxed by giving them something to do. instead Let them decide how they want to pose. Kids are very bendy.ll when Being do we children hown their they’re sns and poses directio of just told. children do well when they’re shown their directions and poses instead of just told. take a portrait of their favorite security object and then show them its image on the LCd on the back of the camera. you can even make a game out of it. a thumb in the pocket instead of the entire hand is one that looks particularly adorable. Confidence comes from knowing what’s required of them without surprises.• Kids are visual—they learn with images before they have language. borrow their beloved toy as your assistant for a few shots. Bend it. so visual. it will affect the shoot. move it. Let kids be involved in the process and share your shots with them on the LCD. you’ll snag a great shot of their childhood friend as well as share the emotional experience of photography with them in a way that they can understand. kids can be stiff in front of the camera. get them moving in place. if the model has a sense of insecurity. With the child’s permission. putting hand on hip. shake it. so photography is a great way to relate to them when their verbal communication is still developing. • Even with direction. twirling hair.
Your children may take an interest in photography themselves. and let them become the one in charge of you as a model. you’ll have happier models if you get them involved.Asking questions is a great way to get kids to relax and open up to you and it will show in their expressions. have the child direct their own parents— the kids love to turn the tables and be the boss. • Kids spend their days being bossed around. give them the family point-and-shoot or even a disposable camera. and click the shutter while they’re thinking. An inexpensive point and shoot camera in their hands is your ticket to seeing life through their eyes. Make the questions age-appropriate— a smaller child will be all giggles at a question like “What did you have for dinner last night? spaghetti and wormballs?” if they’re little. you can even answer your own questions with wildly wrong and silly answers to get some great laughs. if you’re shooting someone else’s family. take the time to ask your model some simple questions. and this is a great way to keep them still and engaged. if your own kids are always in front of your lens. sMiLe 44 . • Kids of all ages like to answer questions.
” • When photographing children. is the hood of that rusty old truck really a great place to sit your small child? is that vintage suitcase lid going to fall and trap tiny fingers? ps need to ubject.” not only will they be excited to be the star at something. so you might ask them about their favorite music or books. it’s fair to trade children’s time in front of the camera for some sort of compensation. you could say something like: “i take great photos. although photographing should never become such a battle that one needs to go as far as resorting to bribery. Left: Trade silly faces for smiles.• The same question would cause an older child to roll their eyes. sMiLe 45 . also. enh t be the s no Above: Use props. it helps to keep current on what’s popular with their age group so you don’t look old and out of touch! • Consider using bartering and deals to get kids on your side. My advice on this is the same as my theme for the entire shoot: keep it simple and fun. and be true. Pro s ance the ubject. and three chairs at a tea-set table out in the forest: too much. never forget about safety. try something like: “you do five smiles for me and then you get to do five crazy faces for the camera. a bunch of balloons. the issue of props always comes into play. • One type of barter is the trade of sharing talents. i like to think of it in terms of a deal where both parties are happy and having fun..this is what i do best. but it may end up giving you some great props for shots. one or two balloons: gorgeous. the props need to enhance the subject. don’t over-use props. not be the subject. For example.. so let me show you and then you can show me what you’re best at. • When the kids really don’t want to smile for you. an old typewriter.
so sometimes the end of a shoot deserves a lollipop. your child or subject will feed off those emotions. in control. Know when your model is exhausted and make sure you respect their limits. i’ll end with my two best and most important bits of advice for anyone who plans to photograph children. it’d better be one you can provide. sMiLe 46 . rushed. don’t make promises that you can’t keep. OK. if you promise a treat at the end of the shoot. if that photo is blurry or bad. There’s no magic word or trick that you can pull out of your bag that will work with every child each and every time. You decide. and fun. they will too. if you smile and have fun. you’ll just have to try another time. if you say “Just one more shot. If you’re hurried. Children need to know that they can trust what you say if you want them to model for you again and again. once you learn to be flexible. angry.• Be true to your word. • Always keep smiling. or frustrated. • Learn when to let it go. you’ll also know when you’ve exhausted your allowance of time with your subject. Maintain a level of trust and respect at all times.” then you need to honor that and take just one more.
and they certainly weren’t dressed in their best clothes. they had fun. all of this took less than five minutes of our time. i got one more shot after my son had run off. i had my camera with me. My little boy was being a goofball and i saw that he still needed to run off some energy. i took a few shots of them all. and because i was ready. so we were all happy.the real picture i took this photo of my children. i noticed the beautiful light. once. but i knew that the one i wanted was safely recorded and we could move on to the next fun adventure we’d planned in the day. who i told to stand on either side of the little gutter. i made sure to meter the light in the scene. But not only did it speak to many people who don’t know the children personally. sMiLe 47 . they were allowed to run about and be silly. and i got the shot i was after. While i watched them play. When i had my camera set properly. the editing at home took under five minutes as well—i just ran one of my black-and-white actions over the Jpeg in photoshop to highlight the amazing light and unify their mismatched clothing. i then asked the twins to run in and give their sister a hug. and my children were having a ball running around the tiny little alley. i think the best part was that someone in the alley told me that i was a fun mom. so i gave them a task. they did. and when i shared it online people loved it. it now hangs as a canvas in our home. photography with children should always be that way. no one’s looking at the camera. i had the twins step off to either side of my eldest daughter. but they looked stiff. i asked them to take a portrait together and demonstrated how i wanted them to stand all holding hands. i knew her wide-legged stance would make her more stable. i got the shot. it’s not even in color. i’d just taken them out for hot chocolate and a coffee for me.
to capture tender tones for a sleeping baby. they will too. Identify the personality types or ages that you’re least comfortable working with. marks.? CONSIDER 1. yo d. those emsubject will fe ur and have otions. Make a shopping list for stickers. 2. rushe child or frustrated. or hurried. and lens ornaments! Always k If you’re eep smiling. and write down some ideas for how you can better work with them in the future. 3. sMiLe 48 . Carefully move your crib to a south or north facing window which does not get direct sunlight. Really listen to yourself the next time you are photographing a child and make sure that you break any bad habits you may have like shooting well past the “only one more” you promised. If you ed off smile fun. angry.
REFINE post-production. editing and equipment .
not dreaded and put off. you’ll be able to do it all quickly and well. and sharing your images. editing. not the sharpness. this sounds like a lot of work. the creation of the final photograph is only at the halfway mark. these days. it’s up to you to refine your own work by organizing. Culling images is a beast of a task at the best of times. one of the goals of shooting mindfully is that you end up with fewer photos. agonizing over imperceptible differences while flipping back and forth between the photos enlarged to 100% in your photo-organizing software. When you’re a parent photographing your own children. but it is essential—and if you shoot thoughtfully and work methodically. this makes the post-processing workflow a lot easier—whether you’re a parent or a photographer of children. but you’ll also need to take some time to refine your work in a more contemplative manner. there’s a whole world of photo-processing that may once have been the domain of the corner onehour lab. Use this chapter as a way to refine the process that you currently use. you will waste at least 45 minutes each time. you certainly don’t have a lot of time to sit at your computer sorting through images hoping to find one that worked. you’ll want to create an easy post-processing routine. and it’s especially painful when you have an emotional attachment to the images. if you photograph thoughtfully and avoid burst mode. your goal being to speed up the minor edits and allow time to really polish the most special shots. or both.Just as this is not a photography 101 book. reFine 50 . printing. chances are you don’t have a lot of uninterrupted time on your hands—and the moments that you do have free are usually not allotted to be spent on your computer. as you will with photos of your children. but more images that you actually love. and trust me. but now falls to you and your computer. Your effort at getting a great photograph does not end when you hit the shutter button and capture the image in your camera. you need to review and question your own images. reviewing. Above: Zooming in to check if the eyes are sharp enough has become a hallmark of the new digital perfection myth as not all images with sharp eyes are good photographs and not all soft images are bad photographs. selecting. Left: Focus first on the moments you capture. you escape having to decide which of the seventeen identical portraits of your child is the one to keep and print. you’ll already need to have a handle on the actual editing software you use in order to get the most out of this chapter. Especially with digital. neither is it a primer on the basics of digital photography post-processing. it is a task that can be enjoyed too.
yet simple electronic filing system for my images. my mother handed me a scrapbook of baby memories and a brown paper bag of slides and prints and said. “i think these are all you. When i turned 39. that’s just another incarnation of the myth of digital perfection. an all-in-one program such as adobe Lightroom™ is Being present when shooting means that you can capture a few meaningful frames without having your camera on burst mode. of course. and i didn’t need the extra stress of further backing up. i can cross-reference by both subject and date. and the ability to work in layers in photoshop is worth the price difference alone. i detail my post-processing routine here—you might choose to use it as a run sheet for your own work. being organized from the outset will save you hours of editing. or either. the processing flows quickly and easily without having to swap between different programs for organization and editing. i take as much care as i can of my images.the first step in the process is off-loading the images from your card. i have them in folders organized by date-taken with keywords relating the subject’s name or what event it is. as a mother who takes images of her children nearly every day. but no longer worry about losing them all— to me. a great tool—once you understand the process of importing and exporting your image files. one thing i learned from going through stacks and stacks of slides that my father shot of my childhood. reFine 51 . i never had thirteen back-up copies of every negative i ever took. Lightroom™ has its limits. so if you want to grow artistically or even turn your photography into a business. With this in mind.” i realized then that my file storage was more than fine. photoshop has a lot more tools for fine adjustments than Lightroom. so i‘ve decided to let go of the anxiety over ensuring multiple backups of each digital file. efficient process for whenever you open an image. i replace the card in my camera and format it. i make sure that i transfer those photo files to the computer every night. i recommend that you invest in the full version of adobe photoshop Cs™. it’s also an affordable option for someone looking for more than the free or cheap photo-editing programs that come with your camera or are found online. i’m careful to maintain an orderly. though. With this system. as only you know how you want your photographs to look. the creative edits and style is up to you. after the photographs are on the computer. edit your images via the same order of steps every time so you’ll develop a smooth. having defined your own style. it’s no fun to have to organize a ton of images years later.
i found myself not only taking too many photos. the ones that i doubt will make the cut are demoted to four stars. as the images are re-rated with the filter set to show only five-star images. the concession i’ve made with the hoarder side of myself is that even though images may not get a star rating at all. i made a deal with myself to never actually delete a file unless it was absolutely trash. this process takes no more than a few moments and i usually end up with quite a few. if it’s a flawed but funny shot that i may want to someday use to embarrass my kids at their twentyfirst birthday celebration. i won’t delete them—i have the hard drive space to store those files. so i make sure to do it when i have a block of time set aside. without close scrutiny. i’m not really a minimalist person by nature. this task would suck me into my computer for hours on end. With the star system to filter them when i’m reviewing later. Back when i was new to the world of digital photography. this second step takes a bit more time. that resolution reduced the anxiety i was feeling and allowed me to speed up the image-selection process. similar to that in the Lightroom and adobe Bridge methods i use. at least it’s all tidy. as a first step. With this second round of image cuts completed. we’re left with only the collection of images that will move on to the next stage of the process. it was taking me hours to cull a simple shoot. i now take the time to go through and pick the ones that will be edited and eventually kept as finals or even printed. so while i like things tidy. i look for focus. i know i tend to keep more than i need. expressions. and the ones that are clearly not keepers get demoted all the way to no stars. i start by going through all the images and giving the ones that i really like five stars. i do this on sight. Edit for Favorites For me this is the hardest part of the editing process—if i let it. by going with my gut reaction like this.1. and overall image content photo by photo. but also having a hard time parting with shots that were never going to be printed. the ones i’m not going to work on disappear. reFine 52 . i rate it at three stars—i have a nice collection of three-star images filed away as ammunition. i find sorting the winning shots from the losers is easier when i employ the star system. Most photoediting software programs offer a rating system The multiple shots you do take do not have to all be of the same expression. and move on to the next stage of selection. Mark your favorites and then move to the next stage of your workflow. With only my five-star rated images showing. i then use the filter option on the program to only show the images rated with five stars.
Other simple adjustments like levels. so i make sure to get it as close to correct in-camera as i can. ion tool t A calibra re that ill ensunitor is w your mio g accurate n render and tones. but it was nothing that a selective color adjustment layer could not easily fix. even if you’re just a parent wanting to create beautiful images of your children. curves. once you’re certain that you have a solid digital file edited to be true-to-life color and exposure. ensure the white balance is natural. and Curves settings until you have a good base image. Brightness. colors 53 reFine . color balance or even a simple hue and saturation layer can be all an image needs when it is well exposed in-camera. Edit for Exposure. With the image open in your editing program. most images will need a little bit of adjusting in post-processing. this is where you’ll be processing your work. look to the histogram for confirmation of proper exposure. adjust the exposure. to think about investing in one more fancy piece of equipment: a calibration tool will ensure that your monitor is rendering accurate colors and tones. The image on the left was too warm for my liking. Color. all of this effort could go to waste if you’re not working on a calibrated monitor.2. you can move on to the next step. even then. Contrast. i advise anyone serious about taking photos. and Tone Just like the darkroom or the one-hour lab of years past. there’s nothing as disheartening as editing what you feel is a wonderful photo and getting something dark and red back from the printer. you can only do your best editing if you start from the best image possible. Contrast. and then double-check that there are no blown highlights or extreme color casts. however.
I deepened the shadows with a simple levels adjustment layer to add definition to the reflection. so embrace this opportunity to make sure your image composition is working as well as it can. if the lines of that object fail to direct the viewer’s gaze around the image. reFine 54 . consider a tighter crop just above the wrist or elbow. scan the edges of your image for objects that are coming into the frame. refine your vision for the shot by perfecting composition and framing. on tight face shots. the entire image will appear balanced.Here I really liked the reflection element in the image. make sure it’s balanced so that the void actually enhances the person in your image. crop it out. take special care when cropping your portraits not to chop kids off at weird points. 3. Edit for Framing and Image Content at this stage. so I cropped the original to a square format leaving only the window. We don’t get a lot of second chances in either life or photography. your image will ideally be well composed in-camera. but there are times when we miss that mark and need to refine our framing in post-production. try to have the eyes of your subject fall into the upper line of your rule-of-thirds composition—this will ensure that even though some of the head may be cut off at the top of the frame. if your image has a lot of negative space around your subject. if only part of the hand made it into the original frame.
such as an acne blemish or allergy rash. but nice change). My personal guideline is that if it’s cleanable first. if you’ve photographed a child with a severe birthmark or prominent mole. but don’t smooth over freckles—leave your child subjects looking like real kids. Something like a simple scratch can be removed easily in Photoshop as it is not a permanent feature and will be forgotten after it is healed. but do consider what it may say to your children down the line when they look at images of themselves as a child and notice that they’ve been altered. others want to see the beautiful children just as they are. if the mark is transient. not dolls. but hold back on the urge to over-process just because you can. reFine 55 .4. like a snotty nose. your images of your own children are your call. don’t edit it out before asking their parents. anything that only surgery could remove i leave alone. Edit for Spots and Other Minor Corrections this is another chance to refine your image. While some will want to see blemishes removed or diminished (try taking down the reds of a “stork bite” birthmark or newborn acne for a subtle. then tidy it up or make it disappear altogether. then clean it first. By all means clean up the spots created by sensor dust (i use the spot healing brush in photoshop or the clone tool in Lightroom).
5. Bottom right: That same preset that I created for the rainy day shot has become a favorite of mine to give an instant warm “look” to many different images. Top right: This image was fairly dull due to the rainy day lighting. speed through this part by creating actions in photoshop of the editing techniques you like and use most often. your vision for your work needs to be thought out well enough that by this point you know what look you’re working towards. this is where you can set your style in processing. perhaps you’d like to share your images in black and white. or a tone effect. Edit for Special Effects or Fine Tuning once the image has been edited to the bestlooking version of itself. this step could take you hours or just a few minutes. actions are a set of editing steps recorded and saved to run together in photoshop when you press a button. depending on how much work you need to do to create your desired effect. i have my own collection of photoshop actions for sale to get people started. then you can add on the final touches of your style. they are loaded into an action palette in the program itself. play around with the action steps to refine their look even further. action files can be double-clicked on to be immediately loaded into the action palette in photoshop. we’ve all Above: Taking the color out of this shot meant that the distortion created by the water steaming down the glass wall would become patterns that all blended together. there really is no rule of thumb here for whether black and white is used. at some point in our digital photography career. once purchased and downloaded. but the vision is all yours. if they offer them. or maybe you prefer the vintage feel of old analog film. reFine 56 spent an hour trying unsuccessfully to get color right on an image just to give up and turn it black and white! . I created a preset for Lightroom to brighten the whole image and give the areas of highlight a warm feeling. you can even buy the actions from a photographer whose style you admire.
but the best of the best shots can be given that last once-over.6. Look for any things that need cloning out or painting over. these time-consuming final touches only need to be done on your favorite shots that are going to be displayed or printed. Something like that is work I would only do on images that were going to be printed. Edit for Final Gallery or Collection not everything that you shoot and edit will end up in an album or on your blog. Just simply painting over the red dead branches of the trees with green (set to Mode: Color) and then darkening them a bit makes the subject of this shot stand out more. reFine 57 .
My children will know my father through printed photographs only. like i am. you may notice the number of printed images of each child is inversely related to their birth order. have those gorgeous images compiled and printed into an actual coffee table book. reFine 58 . impress upon your clients that the prints you offer might be more expensive than those offered by the corner shop. you’ll soon have a stunning collection to flip through. i think that is the one place in this ebook where i most need to take my own advice. even if you just fill an album with 4" x 6" prints of your favorite shots.7. I suggest p as a bucslude prints inre. schedule a print order once a month. scrapbooker. if you’re mindful of your photography.com. you in ricing structu your p professional photography lab is worth the extra money. but the last child. they will not have any reason to blame your skills as a photographer. if you’re a parent of more than one child or even the fifth of a family of five kids. at the end of the year. Print Make actual paper copies of the images you are creating—they’ll probably outlast your computer’s hard drive. if you are a parent. or even your blog. but one easy-touse solution with good quality results that i’ve used for personal work is blurb. gets a brown paper bag of slides. intending to share their images freely with family and friends online or even get the photos you’ve taken printed cheaply at the local discount superstore. if you plan to photograph children as a business. it’s a time issue. include a professionally printed set of proof prints if for no other reason than when the client inevitably does have inferior prints made. if you do decide to offer a disk of images to your client. it always seems that the first child gives rise to multiple volumes of baby albums. it isn’t a love issue. make an effort each month to drop copies of your favorite shots into a new folder labeled “Book”. but the prints you can have made at a professional lab are much more emotionally valuable than images on a disk that tend to stay on a disk. as in my case. i suggest you include prints in your pricing structure. there are many different options for making a book of your own photography. your client may really want to buy that disk of files. soon you’ll have years of your life in images that you can sit on the couch and look through—no computer needed. if you’re a planner. you can avoid the photography burn-out that happens and be sure of ending up with equal amounts of photographs for each child. or designer. but the quality of final images on archival paper from a plan tochildren If you raph hotog iness.
Furthermore. but once i got started. then that image doesn’t go online. Post and Share i have a blog. Ultimately the decision of whether any images of children that you take can be shared online or in any medium is up to the individual parents. and as such receive fan email and comments. Being so young. they’re hardly aware at all of the attention. however. and for those i suggest implementing the many security options online. they’ve even been recognized in public. While i store every digital image that i’ve ever taken on external hard drives in our home. you. i do understand that it’s a genuine worry for some. laptop. i make sure that i print copies of my favorite shots and upload all Jpegs of my absolute favorite images to an online storage system. i have Facebook. But that’s where i stop the digital perfection (archival) madness. it will probably not be worth your time to do shoots where you will not have permission to share the final images. and i even have a few photos on google +. You can always choose to only share publicly. you’ll want to display your work. if you’re just starting out and building your portfolio by shooting for free. must decide for yourself. Currently i have over 5. My views all boil down to one main thing: i’m more worried about people in real life who might come into contact with my children than i am of anyone who might view their images online. if you’re considering photographing children professionally. and/or prints. i know i can’t rely on them being functional in the years to come. my children have become semi-public figures.000 images on Flickr™. Knowing before you begin will save you any disappointment. i can offer my view that determines the extent to which my husband and i share the images i take of our own children. on a different but related note. i find watermarks ugly and ineffective. there are also many people ranging from ignorant to dishonest who help themselves to online images for commercial purposes. so i don’t bother with them myself. images where the children can’t be identified. so i choose not to think about them. i’ll stop. those people do get my attention. most of them are set to private. as a parent. and take care with your Facebook security settings and whom you add as a friend. password-protect your family blog. even if we were to lose the external hard drives. Because of that. For a small yearly fee. i am aware of the attention. i never stopped. any image that you post online has the potential to fall into the hands of someone else. so it’s essential that you discuss this with parents of your models and get their written consent before you shoot. this is where i create what i think of as my little digital fire safe. i know i can access them from whenever. Issues of posting images of children online this is a very complex and sensitive issue. consider watermarking your web images. due to the online popularity of my images on Flickr and my blog. and from there you have essentially lost control (though not copyright). in keeping with respect issues. if this is a big worry to you. they do have a use-by date of sorts. i’ve chosen to not post any images that could be deemed embarrassing or detrimental to them in the future. but one that must be considered by anyone who is photographing children. i can’t control them. if my children ever request that i not share any more images of them.8. and my cease-anddesist order by email. but every individual needs to weigh it up and make the best decision based on your comfort level. reFine 59 . i didn’t upload any images until early 2005. but Flickr is where i began my online photo sharing story in late 2004. and because of that. there are many people out in the world who look at all sorts of innocent images with nefarious thoughts. wherever i am. set your Flickr stream to private. as their mother. as a parent. i think of the web as a family photo album we’d have sitting on the coffee table at home and if i wouldn’t show an image to dinner party guests.
not everything should be shot at f/1. study your images and learn from your own work. or do you see evidence of a tendency to underexpose. this process of scrutiny and evaluation is all part of learning how to see photographs. their anxiety and discomfort will show. but the way you communicate it can. While that’s sage advice. what you loved about the image. but most kids thrive on structure. have you shown their connection by having each subject touching. now look for settings. try stepping back and being an observer as well. Keep a journal to write what you think. the focus of your work needn’t change. review and revise your work on a regular basis to escape becoming stuck in a pattern. you need to look at the whole picture with a critical eye. how about that horizon? is it slanted across the frame in every shot just because someone once said that you needed to try interesting angles? that’s not what they meant! how comfortable do your subjects look? are you relying on the kids to act naturally for you? refer to Chapter 3 for tips on working with kids. Write down what you’re inspired by. and keep growing by consistently pushing yourself to fix past mistakes. you’ll see just how far you have come as a photographer and not merely how big your kids are growing! start by looking at all of your images that you’ve fully edited into one gallery or collection. scan the set to see if they’re all shot on the same portrait or landscape orientation—maybe you’ll resolve to rotate your camera more. they may act as though they want to be the boss.refining your Work now that the practical post-photo session information has been covered. it’s a sign you need to rethink your composition. if they don’t know what’s coming next or what you expect from them. it isn’t just looking at other photographer’s work that will help you grow—identify patterns in your own work over time and search for ways to expand your vision. this is the practice of recognizing when you’re developing your style versus settling obliviously into a rut. hoping to fix it later in photoshop? reFine 60 . do you need to add variety to your images by zooming in or out more frequently during the shoot? often aspiring kid photographers will be given the advice to get in close for a better shot. don’t forget to keep a collection of your own photographs.8 just because it looks cool to have a blurry background. if your subject is children. but always remember that children will need some direction. let’s talk about the other elements involved in refining your work. While you might already be keeping a folder of your favorite images pulled from magazines featuring other photographers’ work. or are they awkwardly standing in a line? did you over-edit every shot with a heavy fake vignette because you thought it drew attention to your subject? if the point of interest in your images isn’t clear without a darkened oval surrounding it. don’t let it take over your images. if you’re working with family groups or more than one child. recognize and break out of patterns that aren’t working for you. as you look back at your work over time. pay attention to focal lengths you’ve used and the amount of frame you’ve filled. and even what your editing steps were.
it is a lovely lens to have in your photography kit. it may be my lack of planning for a shoot that’s to blame. Look at your collection of camera gear and consider the purchase of new equipment carefully. something to note is that on a cropped digital sensor dsLr. Make a list of the photography gear you covet most. but my own skills. ? CONSIDER 1. the 50mm will be a true 50mm focal length. and only when you can no longer grow. reFine 61 .” the majority of the time it isn’t the gear or lack of gear that’s holding me back. these little lenses are relatively inexpensive. 3. but super sharp. want to try If you mething new.4 lens—the nifty fifty is something every kid shooter should have. the 50mm will take on a longer focal length due to the digital crop factor and therefore will actually approximate an 80mm lens. For something different. “error occurred between desk and chair. Most parents buy their fancy dsLr camera with a kit lens: a cheap zoom with a variable aperture that’s quickly outgrown by most people. I get out my old Polaroid SX70 and carefully shoot film from The Impossible Project.” and turn it back on myself to become: “error occurred between shutter and finger.8 or f/1.refining your equipment are you blaming every bad shot on your camera body or lens? every time i look at my own work and think. consider renting a different focal length lens before you buy it. or not knowing my editing program well enough. 2. and the generous aperture will give you the ability to create a shallow depth of field and shoot in lower light situations without flash that you will never ever be able to get from your kit zoom. Describe your artistic vision for your photographs. on a full-frame sensor dsLr that tends to be marketed to professionals. if you have a kit lens on your dsLr and are frustrated with image quality. look into buying a 50mm f/1. you don’t need the latest and shiniest camera body or lens just because the guy behind the counter pushed it or some mothers in your playgroup have it.” i remember the saying. and then list in detail the ways you think they would enhance your kid photography. technology is changing and improving all the time and new photography gear is exciting—but if you want to try something new and unfamiliar. either way. which means most of the lowerpriced models.g a so sider rentin efore con b different lens you buy it. when it’s apparent that it’s your tools that are limiting you. it’s rarely the fact that i lack the camera model released five minutes ago. then you’re ready to upgrade. “if only i had x or y. Review your post-processing system and think about where you can save time. Learn to work with what you have.
RESEARCH seek new inspiration & styles .
here we’ll discuss other broad genres of art and photography. light. these are pared down to a very simplified group of elements for a reason: this is not a photography theory textbook. search beyond the local child photographer’s blog and dig deep into the history of the art form. and subject matter—should not be discarded just because the subject happens to be a child. researCh 63 . Left: Not every client shot has to be a traditional portrait. Just like when you take a deep breath. Above: I try to make an effort to every now and then create images that are really out of my normal style range. take a moment to stop and breathe in all the inspiration that’s out there. I have used a number of new techniques here to produce a photograph that is nothing like my work to date. you will take it all in. influences are everywhere. The universal elements of great photography—technique. Look to these other types of photography for ways in which you can add interest to your own work. While it still may be a portrait of my oldest daughter. and here we’ll look to theories on photography for that inspiration.It’s important to be familiar with what makes a photograph compelling to a viewer. but rather a book to inspire kid photographers. anyone who wants to take better photographs of children can apply the various styles to their own practice. By reducing these to the essential elements. In fact. these elements are essential to your images transcending pretty pictures and becoming fascinating and meaningful photographs. one just needs to learn how to see what it is that makes them compelling to us. feeling relaxed and refocused after. composition.
a window. depth. Color. portrait painters such as rembrandt knew how to light their subjects long before there was a camera to record it all. PROJECT IDEA Set up a home studio in your living room with a dining chair.traditional portrait photography Kid photography does not have to consist solely of candid shots. When all these elements are right. and drama can all be enhanced by mastering the art of side light. including the hallmark triangle of light under one eye. and a kid. KEy ELEmEnTS TO InCLUDE • Color • Side light • medium aperture for detail • Convey a sense of stillness and deliberate pose Light from one window to the side of your subject is perfect for serious yet beautiful portraits. and darkly elegant background give a grand sense of stillness to a traditional portrait. subdued expression. The smaller features of a child’s face will not produce the harsh shadows found on an adult’s lit at the same angle. Known for his self-portrait work. it isn’t always the most flattering light for adults. itional ad ok to trechniques Lo t ortrait e timeless p to creat of children images researCh 64 . the dutch golden age painter favored side-lighting and a three-quarter view of the face. the noble poses. direct gaze. Look to traditional portrait techniques to create timeless images of children. the deeply shadowed face. With its sharp directional light casting shadow on every wrinkle and blemish. the portrait can go from flat and dull to mesmerizing. but the tiny features and smooth skin of children are perfectly suited to this approach. and calmly confident expression most often seen in adult portraits adds contrast to a child’s portrait and in turn conveys a sense of their power. No fancy lights needed for a studio feel. otherwise known as Rembrandt lighting.
Considered to have its start in the 1800s as photographic equipment and processes became more portable. documentary photography is event-oriented. such as births and weddings. it requires a lot of planning within the action. researCh 65 . It was an emotional moment as he had been delayed due to minor issues from birth. this genre is not as random and candid as the street photography off-shoot we look at next. so you must have a purpose to capture the moment. your goal as a documentary photographer of children is to compile a story of the event and explore its many facets. KEy ELEmEnTS TO InCLUDE • Color and/or black and white • Wide angle • macro detail shots • Convey a sense of action and purpose to the story told. the main element in this genre is the captured moment. Left: I was ready with a camera in hand the moment our son first learned to crawl. in an informal and unposed style. overwhelmingly real and almost ordinary in focus. it is candid but stresses the objectivity and truthfulness you would expect to see in photojournalism.documentary photography documentary photography is a popular form of photography used to record significant and historical events. Above: The first moments of my husband as a new father are forever captured in the black and white shot taken the day after our oldest daughter was born. it could be as simple as making a meal. documentary photography has gone from accurately describing unattainable places or environments to sharing space with fine art photography. I took that one from my vantage point in my hospital bed. PROJECT IDEA Birthday celebrations with style. or as complex as documenting a child’s treatment and recovery from an illness.
researCh 66 . including mobile devices. this style of photography has reinvented itself with the increased development of portable cameras. so consider anytime with your kids to be a possible right time for photography. it does need to be spontaneous. KEy ELEmEnTS TO InCLUDE • Black and white • Wide-angle lens • Lower than standing viewing perspective • Convey a sense of observation and reflection Above: While it does not have to actually be on the street. PROJECT IDEA neighborhood kids playing on the sidewalk. it’s a fantastic way to photograph kids. unscripted photography.street photography street photography is a candid style of documentary photography that captures its subjects in a public environment. With a real height of popularity between the mid 1950s through the mid 1970s. if not on you. another element that defines this genre is being at the right place at the right time with your camera. since one of the points of this genre of photography is to not bring attention to the photographer. it often concentrates on a single unplanned instant in a person’s life. or even public events. such as the market. it is a reminder to keep your camera near you. holding your camera away from your face—or even as low down as shooting from the hip—is key to this style. it’s essential to capture your subjects completely unaware of your camera’s attention on them. Left: The body language of the girls and their juxtaposition to the long legged stranger is what makes this image. at all times. using the realistic and objective technique seen in straight. park.
researCh 67 .Lifestyle photography another branch of documentary photography. This unposed and joyful genre is a great way to capture the happy nature of children. KEy ELEmEnTS TO InCLUDE • Color • Golden backlight • Happy emotion and action • Convey a sense of joy and warmth Color. this unposed and joyful genre is a great way to capture the happy nature of children. due to the light. colorful. expressions and environment. and typically used for advertising. PROJECT IDEA Beach or park portraits with action. While the images are actually taken during staged setups. they appear completely natural and spontaneous. lifestyle photography captures and portrays real-life situations and subjects in their element. environment and light are all key elements of lifestyle shots. often considered natural portraiture. images are bright.
Modern art photography Modern art photography often coincides with abstract photography. almost impossible to tell from a painting. your vision for child photography based on the style of these genres can be taken to a whole new level of art in post-production. this form of photography can also be used to convey the photographer’s view on current world issues that affect children. edward steichen. one of the founding fathers of modern art photography. in the early 1900s. KEy ELEmEnTS TO InCLUDE • Unexpected color • Simplicity & sparse framing • Pattern • Texture in the image and in the processing • Convey a sense of mystery researCh 68 . these photographs are thought-provoking and powerful. employed photography to portray feelings instead of simply illustrating an object. PROJECT IDEA Focus on creating a portrait of a child that is one color-heavy image (even white) with additional post-processing to enhance the desired effects. With an excellent base image to start with.
however. it focuses on the client’s needs. KEy ELEmEnTS TO InCLUDE • Color • mood • Appropriate environment for Framing details that would otherwise seem odd work well when doing a fashion shoot with kids. with odd juxtapositions.Fashion photography PROJECT IDEA Fashion shoot with entire outfit from the thrift store. fashion photography is expressive and quirky. this genre highlights mood and styling. whether it be playful or dramatic. this can be an especially freeing genre to blend into your child photography style on occasion. it often relies on breaking basic rules of focus and exposure to add impact. What child doesn’t like to play a little dress-up? • Attention to posing and expressions from the child • Broken rules of exposure or framing for impact • At least one element of clothing to drive the entire idea researCh 69 . background along the same lines as modern art photography. it can also involve a very complex image. having started in the mid twentieth century. rather than the photographer’s personal goals. as it can be built around one object of clothing.
tangible items in a significant environment. PROJECT IDEA Record your child’s bedroom elements to define their current stage in life. and presents meaningful. researCh 70 . and represents them clearly. it could even be the environment itself that’s the central feature—consider basing a photographic project around your child’s room. still life photography features commonplace objects. and by their wildly different tastes in decorating. this art form dates all the way back to the Middle ages. different stages of a child’s life will be marked by different items that they are attached to. it’s essential to remember these elements as a part of the whole. but I will never forget their importance for a brief time. in making a true portrait collection of a child. KEy ELEmEnTS TO InCLUDE • Color • Detail shots of the items in the room • Proper lighting techniques Those beloved bears are now long gone as we have moved on past the newborn stage.still Life & interiors photography Like paintings. either natural or handmade. focusing on lighting and composition.
Mirrors are a common household item that provide a powerful tool for reflecting a moment with your child for the camera. because you were always behind the camera instead of in front of the lens with them. artists have been using reflective materials to place themselves in the image. get into these shots with your kids! researCh 71 .self-portrait photography self-portraits date back to the fifteenth century and albrecht dürer. KEy ELEmEnTS TO InCLUDE • yourself as well as your child • Reflection • Wide-angle lens • Proper focusing technique Whether you use a wide angle lens and hold the camera out in front of you or find something shiny to catch your reflection. but artists making themselves the main focal subject of their work became increasingly popular in the mid sixteenth century. PROJECT IDEA Reflection time with your child. Just as we do today with photography. you don’t want your child to look back through their history of photographs and never see you.
and carefully weigh up your location and the styling of the shoot. the lo-fi lens and cheap construction create unusual optical effects like light leaks. grain. and became popular in the 1960s. rely on your knowledge of proper exposure and sense of composition to make the image. give your contemporary child photography a true vintage feel. if you want to replicate film photography. you must start by forgetting that the LCd on the back of your camera even exists. have your teenager sport a hairstyle from that era and perhaps just a smidge of the iconic makeup.toy Camera photography toy cameras are inexpensive film cameras made almost entirely out of plastic. PROJECT IDEA What is your idea of vintage? a sider a squt re Con a to sugges umcrop edi w of the mameras fe format toy cHolga. Play with focus and blur to suggest the plastic lenses of old toy film cameras. relax into the strength of composition to make your shot interesting researCh 72 . and unnatural distortion. distortion. and then work with what you’ve captured when you’re back at your computer. Consider a square crop to suggest a few of the medium-format toy cameras such as the holga. square cropping • While the processing can be fun and unpredictable. try the plastic diana lens for a lo-fi effect in-camera. darkly vignetted edges. process with actions that simulate and enhance the effect of the toy camera film. how about posing your seven-year-old on a banana bike seat? or if you’re going for a sixties look. if you’re thinking 1970s. you can even get vintage toy lenses for your dsLr. then tie it all together with black-and-white postprocessing. such as the KEy ELEmEnTS TO InCLUDE • Use post-processing techniques to replicate the lo-fi effects: vignette.
in having our fancy smart phones with us all the time. I can create magical vignettes of my children’s daily life activities. PROJECT IDEA Just one shot a day. elements that add to the image. this is becoming the new way we tend to document our children’s history through photography. however. and some interesting processing to follow up with. relax. it doesn’t have to be one or the other. and just focus on composition. your mission here is to take your dsLr. i think that’s why the camera phone is really striking such a chord in our photography-loving hearts—it’s getting back to the essence of photography with the added bonus of digital instant gratification. your fancy digital camera needn’t sit gathering dust. the pressure to get these perfect but surreal images of children has taken the focus of kid photography from the pure moments of childhood to porcelain unreality. it’s a cross between toy camera photography’s interesting effects and documentary photography’s moment-based feel. the emergence of dsLrs and ever-more sophisticated software to edit images has pushed the realm of kid photography into a fantasy genre. • Leaving proper exposure to either your aperture priority or shutter priority so that you can relax and enjoy being spontaneous researCh 73 .phone-tography phone-tography is such a new genre that we’re making history as we speak. where even parenting magazines are publishing covers featuring images of children that have been edited to resemble plastic baby dolls rather than real live humans. KEy ELEmEnTS TO InCLUDE • Focusing on great composition and capturing those special moments With moments and light as the only focus. Simply take a photo with your DSLR of your child every day for the year.
and get into the practice of identifying the elements you find most compelling. when group f/64 re-embraced straight. Journal your ideas for translating your new inspiration into a child photography shoot. researCh 74 Keep a journal or start a pinterest (www. 3. and there are boundaries of safety and ageappropriateness to be considered. i want to encourage a return to the essentials of a good photograph straight from the camera. take lessons from these other genres. com) board of images that inspire you.? CONSIDER 1. take you f . the many different genres highlighted here point out that an image doesn’t have to look like everything else to be interesting. filter-heavy images. the wide world of art and media offers many other sources of inspiration beyond these—this small selection is just to start you thinking about the options out there. Find one photographer from your selected genre and write down what words come to your mind as you look at their work. the best place to start is with a well-made image and let your own personal vision take you from there. as any art form does. a famous example of this in photography took place in the early twentieth century. and rewrite them for your own story. 2. sees changes and backlashes to current trends as a part of the journey of moving forward. but that’s where you can stretch your creative muscles. unmanipulated photography at a time when the pictorialists were dominating with their fanciful.pinterest. soft-focus. ace to start The best plell-made is with a w let your image and nal vision own persorom there. similarly. use the outlines of the key elements of interest. Sometimes the image will not need anything more than an interesting angle to tell a story. not everything will be a fit. Find the most compelling genre of photography listed above and research it fully. this is not meant to suggest people shouldn’t play and have fun with their child photography! Quite the opposite. photography. when seemingly every start-up child portrait photographer relies on the same set of vintage actions and texture overlays to make their photographs interesting.
photo setups you can try to help push your own boundaries PUSH .
operating by rote is just when easy quickly changes to boring. it’s often easier to be free when constrained by a goal and some limits. the goals are fairly detailed. When you feel the desire for more from your images. push. the only thing that jolts me out of creative torpor is purposefully extending myself beyond my equipment. in this chapter. these tricks are not meant to change your style for good. open-shade rut. When you’re given a creative task. it’s in times of stress that we think most creatively. and builds our confidence so that we can incorporate new ideas on the fly. 24-70mm f2. environment. let alone portraits commissioned by a client. However. it’s very likely a sign that it’s time to shake things up. we’ll look at seven different photography exercises designed to break you out of your iso 250. and all I accomplish is more of the same underwhelming images. some more so than others. but as child photographers we must have the skills to think quickly on our feet—we’re often managing challenging subjects. We may not be out photographing in a war zone. but the technical instructions are kept to the bare minimum in order to stimulate your creativity in how you choose to interpret them. push yourself to take photos that are not your normal light or pose.it is there that you will capture the beautiful moments.8. these tasks may feel awkward to you. pUsh 76 . photographing outside of our comfort zone trains our mind to be a better observer.There are many times I set out to photograph my kids with the best of artistic intentions.. here. and endgoal comfort zone. and so it’s all too safe and easy to keep shooting your work over and over again with the same tried-and-tested setups. Whether it is for yourself or for a client. There’s undoubtedly a lot to manage when photographing your own children. i suggest that the ones which make you feel uncomfortable are the ones you really should grapple with—when you’re stuck. they’re merely the prompt you need to try something completely new in terms of how you approach photographing kids.. our minds sharpen and focus when we’re forced to problem-solve.
it’s not hard to take photographs of our little one’s adorable face. so the point of this first exercise is to get you to really think about what is the essence of an engaging portrait. translate at least twelve of the words on your list into photographs. in fact. think about your child and begin by writing a list of words that describe your subject right now. i know i make images like that all the time. now. It is very fitting for the word “Silly” that is on his list. here comes the challenge. Looking back on your child’s visible story. pull your twelve favorite shots and edit them simply so as not to detract from the photography. pUsh 77 . and exposure carefully as you’re shooting so you can get these twelve images in as few attempts as possible. as a parent. Portray a Child … Without Featuring the Child i see so many mugshots of children that say nothing about the child themselves. What are the could u lements yor to tell e put togethe story? your child’s Or show less of the child like this image of my son with his sister that represents the word “Twin” from his list. to complete this exercise. You can even show nothing of the child. but also very few attempts at each of those twelve shots. but those other elements of his childhood will be long forgotten. but represent them with an object like this abandoned pacifier for the photo of “Growing” from the list of words I wrote to describe my son. try to limit yourself not only to twelve final images. InSTRUCTIOnS take twelve images of objects. display the images as a grid or as an old film strip. though. or even abstract ideas and colors that represent your child. your brief: to tell their story in twelve images without once picturing their face. When your flow of words starts to trickle off. you’ll see nothing that speaks of their obsession with the color green or their ever-present soft-toy sidekick. think about the framing. camera settings. places. don’t over-analyze. just jot down whatever comes to mind. your son will grow up and still have his brown eyes.1. stop writing and see how many you’ve ended up with. like this one of my son with his cucumbers from lunch held up as eyes. What are all the elements you could put together to tell your child’s story? this is your opportunity to capture a visual portrait of this moment in your child’s life. You can start this project with the obvious shot of your child somehow obscuring his face. the goal is to use your camera to capture these twelve facets of your child’s personality.
InSTRUCTIOnS plan your session around twelve square images. there’s another striking option that has served myriad photographers well over the years: square. By limiting yourself in terms of both image quantity and square frame constraints. limit yourself to twelve frames for the entire shoot—that would be the same number of images you’d expose for a roll of 120 film. shoot carefully.2. add an additional twelve frames as if you were shooting an additional roll. reference the old 120 medium-format square film frames from gorgeous cameras such as the hasselblad. yashica-Mat. if you do feel that you need more. maintaining the composition you planned for the final square image. pUsh 78 . the goal of this exercise is to plan for not just one frame in the square format. the compositional rules remain the same for any format. you may shoot an additional twelve images (equal to another roll of 120 film) if you need more frames to complete your session. open them in your photo-editing program and crop them to square format (often represented as 1 to 1 in the drop-down menu of the crop tool). try thinking beyond that familiar format. When you have your final files. you’ll be forced to consider your photograph carefully as you take it. Think Inside the Square While your dsLr or 35mm sLr takes rectangular photographs. as with the first exercise. mindful of proper exposure so that you avoid needing to take many images beyond the twelve that you’ll edit. the key for you here is to be aware of the parts of the frame that you’ll crop out later. remember to consider the space that will be lost in the rectangular image frame as you shoot your images. since you’ll be seeing the usual rectangle through the viewfinder of your dsLr as you shoot. and rolleiflex by cropping an entire session of images into squares in your post-processing program. but you’ll find the placement of elements within the square frame to be vastly different from that of a rectangle—you’re essentially losing a whole section of the image that you shoot. but an entire shoot. Keep square in mind for the whole session and don’t be afraid to fill the frame with your subject as well as pulling back.
then set your camera to either f/4 at 1/200 sec or f/2. like these images shot in a hotel with sun protection glazing on the windows. process your final image into black and white. InSTRUCTIOnS you don’t need to do too much work for this one. Embrace the Grain one of the hallmarks of this myth of digital perfection is an almost creepy smoothness to images. Low light situations. is a great time to embrace the grain. Meter your scene and then. in your photo-editing software. and can actually add character to your images. and often were gritty and dirty just like childhood can be. For example. real life has texture. pUsh 79 . grain isn’t always a bad thing. although digital images have similarity to film in terms of pixels on the sensor being the digital equivalent of silver particles on film negatives. set your iso to at least 800. these are kids you’re photographing. give the images a black-andwhite finish to unify the grain and lessen the visual distraction that the noise can have on the subject matter. if the proper exposure for the scene is iso 800 f/2. not dolls that you’re painting. Raising the ISO allowed me to capture the shots without flash and the resulting noise added some texture to the images. film images of ages past had a lot more grain to them.3. turn off your in-camera noise reduction. which will result in more digital noise. take a deep breath and accept the imperfections in the image just as you would in real life. and even add some extra grain with a filter in photoshop. but it may really challenge your digital photo perfection oCd. prepare to photograph inside where the light will be less intense. change the settings so that you’re underexposing the image just a smidge—clearly not a technical term. real life has freckles and depth. with your camera set to Manual. but the amount of grain really is up to you as an artist and therefore the amount of underexposure will depend on your desired result. to unify the noise and incorporate it into the character of the image. counter the darkness a bit by raising the exposure. Children’s features blend together and even their hair is often less like strands than sheets of plastic. so raise the iso.8 at 1/200 sec. purposefully underexpose the image by a stop and then pull it back to proper exposure in post-processing.8 at 1/400 sec depending on the look you’re going for.
so think about how you can express that— consider showing the motion instead of freezing it. you’ll never catch them with slow speeds. that tornado of activity before dinner and bedtime. so those qualities should be celebrated. and experiment with going slower from there. spinning and dancing and doing whatever they do. 4. that’s doubtless true. but do you always need to catch them? perhaps not every photo needs to be perfectly sharp and still. this will open up a whole new range of looks in your imagery. this is a great exercise for late in the day. pUsh 80 . perhaps moving it around a bit to soften the effect. in your photo-processing software. think about twilight in the backyard or dinnertime in your home. While the shutter is open. Children are so full of energy that they’re nearly always on the go. one of the ways to achieve this is with a long exposure. set your camera to shutter priority and pick a slow shutter speed—try 1/30 at first. there’s something very poignant about the way childhood flees in the blink of an eye. which lets the camera record the movement. shine the light on your subject. so a darker environment will really shine in a setup like this. with a still camera and a long exposure. but the task is to at least begin the experiments with a shutter speed slower than you’re comfortable with.InSTRUCTIOnS Using a tripod will allow you to capture the motion of the child without blurring the entire image with camera shake. if you’re not comfortable with full manual mode. With the camera set to record at a slow shutter speed. Slow Your Exposure i read it all the time: you must use a shutter speed of at least 1/250 sec if you want to work with kids. Capture the chaos and blur of the arsenic hour. the more the ambient light will be captured as well. the goal is to really play around with this idea of representing the speed and blur of childhood. Trying to get three small kids out the door is bedlam and I decided to capture the energy with a slow shutter speed as they raced past their ready bags to get shoes and coats. the longer your camera’s shutter is open. or illuminate a portrait of your child by painting the light on them with a torch or lamplight during a long exposure. press the release and let your child free in the frame. play with the contrast levels to give definition to the blurry subject. add illumination to your subjects by painting them with the light from a flashlight or lamp. play with that blurry and dreamy quality. School mornings are crazy in our house. Kids are so fast.
Look at your angle as well—sometimes just moving to your left or right or heightening your perspective can remove enough of the background from your frame to give the entire image a simple and timeless feel. keep the focus on the subject’s face and simplify anything else. for example. you may be tempted to fix their ponytail or change their outfits to match. pUsh 81 . I can’t even recall the drama of that particular day. as the situations that arise to cause the outburst usually mean the subject won’t be overly keen on moving to a better location. but the fact that children are emotional beings is something to celebrate. the trick to working with the messes of childhood. or an overturned glass of milk). make sure your child is fine before thinking about recording the fuss. to make it beautiful. InSTRUCTIOnS there’s no real way to plan for this exercise. and these really should be shown as well as the smiles. the tear-stained cheeks need to be the clear and purposeful subject. you don’t need to take a string of images and you certainly shouldn’t let your photography come before safety. not hide away. the troubles witnessed in the Time Out Spot. I documented his first major “owie” but not right away. is a simple backdrop. you may just have to zoom in close. Let Them Cry never to be confused with “make them cry.5. merely letting off emotional steam or frustration. but resist this in favor of showing the beauty in the sticky chaos. it’s more about being ready to capture life’s real messy glory as it happens. Oh. Left: Evidence of the bad fall was still on my son’s face even hours after a return from the doctor. When the moment arises. there’ll be plenty of perfectly appointed portraits for other occasions. why not capture that moment? Childhood is full of irrational emotional outbursts. the first step is to have your camera out and ready to go at all times. Let them get messy and record the real side of childhood. He did not need stitches.” of course! if your child is safe and unhurt. then look to the background— unless it’s integral to the story (a broken toy. but he sure needed a good cry. so de-clutter the background and ensure good exposure and lighting. but it certainly was beautiful to behold.
so when you’re photographing your kids around the house. carefully review your framing and exposure before you press the button. But as we saw earlier. Let this be a real film-inspired exercise. review them for exposure. see if there are any patterns you could work to improve on. in fact. framing. and storytelling aspects that make up your image. if they’re a mistake. and wait until those 36 frames are on your computer to see what you’ve come up with. pUsh 82 . it’s the one that many digital photographers find the hardest. take a look with a critical eye at the 36 images as a whole in your photo-organizing software. focus. compared to a folder containing hundreds. Were you missing the moments? are the exposures good? What are the issues in your work that even careful shooting doesn’t solve? these areas in need of improvement will be much more apparent if you have fewer images. don’t even look at your LCd between shots. and is even part of other assignments here. the point of this exercise is not to get 36 perfect images. exposure. Limit Your Frames While this may seem like such a simple task. Limiting the number of frames that you can shoot for each subject forces you to think carefully about the framing. it just means you’re down a frame. your motto here is to shoot digital as though each frame costs you money to develop. don’t delete any shots that you take in-camera. 6. Getting the exposure correct before disturbing my daughter’s shower was essential to making sure frames and time weren’t wasted. if you’d like to think in terms of 35mm professional film. then 36 frames is one roll.InSTRUCTIOnS simply give yourself an image number limit. you’re less likely to waste the resource. this is a task that everyone should try. While you’re shooting those 36 frames. and storytelling. once you’ve uploaded the images to your computer. When you have a limited quantity of something. but 36 consecutive images that have been thoughtfully taken. limitations can be surprisingly freeing to the creative soul. Two of only three shots taken.
pay attention to the rules of good exposure and compelling composition. well. 2. InSTRUCTIOnS With your child. and then have fun with your child in front of the lens. think less is more. your goal here is to recreate a story or. let your child help to make one up. set up your images from your notes. you can create a series of images to illustrate the different parts of the story. or take one portrait of your child that summarizes the entire project. decide on the story you’d both like to tell through photographs and prepare your ideas for the images on paper. You do not need a full set or many props. you shouldn’t need to take hundreds of photos merely to get one. you won’t need to smooth these images into satinlike oblivion. Costume the story. Create a Story now it’s time for you to have a little fun with the whimsical. then together you can illustrate that story with photographs. that’s up to you and your child. or create something abstract and odd. Just have fun with your child and the story you’re working with. Which of these assignments seems the hardest for you to do? Do that one first. and let the imaginations of both you and your child take over. fantasy side of childhood. even better. the key is to make all the elements of your image be purposeful choices. What three words would you use to describe your photography of children now? You can let imagination and costume be the only things that tell the story. ? CONSIDER 1. avoid taking too many images. then add an extra element of playtime. Be literal. 3. Which of these assignments is your immediate favorite? Do that one last. or start small. think snippets of a story or the cover of a book of fairytales when you’re working on this. with the story illustrations as your end goal. and the rest. Be grand. pUsh 83 . nor overuse props. Just put to use all the skills you’ve learned about thoughtful photography.7.
LOOK Case studies–interviews & photos .
i think the one common thread linking all my favorite child photographers is that they see photography as just a part of life. Whether they specialize in kid photography by trade, or it’s just where their talent really shines, none of my favorite photographers only shoots kids. recording life with their cameras is essential to their souls, and it shows in their work. these are not photographers who pack their cameras away between portrait sessions—the people who move me with their images of children are always taking photographs. even if they were not paid for what they do, they would continue to be photographers. if your main attraction to photographing kids is because you think it might be a nice little side job, then i suggest you take a moment to really evaluate your passion. do you pass by something and do a double take because the way the light is falling caught your eye? do you grab your camera in the same way you grab your keys when leaving the house? i really think that these small signs can indicate the difference between a child photographer and someone who just takes photos of kids. if you really want to take better photographs of children, you can learn a great deal from photographers who can’t imagine life without their cameras. they pull inspiration for their art from literary works, the trappings of ordinary life, and even music, in addition to yet other photographers. their artistic subject of choice, like yours, just happens to be kids.
What’s your photography background? i guess i would say i am a self-taught photographer. i had the honor of working as a darkroom technician for a very talented photographer when i was about twenty. i learned to use an enlarger before i learned to use a camera, and simply applied my darkroom knowledge to a crappy old manual camera that i inherited from my grandfather. i sort of learned photography backwards. Where’s your camera bag right now, and what’s inside it? My camera bag is stuffed in the bottom of my closet, full of old lenses and camera bodies that i never use. i’ve always hated carrying a camera bag. typically you’ll find me lugging my nikon d200 around in my handbag. there’s a 35mm 1.8 attached, and it’s protected by a UV filter— i’m famous for losing lens caps. i have a nikon 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 lens that i bring out now and then, but i hate not shooting with a fixed lens, so i don’t use it very often. What was the last photo you took? We adopted a new kitten last week so most likely it was a picture of her. Cute li’l Jinkee p.—she’s so cute that i worried my camera would explode. Just before shooting Jinkee i took lots of photos of my husband and his best friends shooting giant guns at a firing range. i like to mix it up.
Where do you get your inspiration? i find inspiration everywhere. i love it when light and shadows intersect just so, and i love to shoot in the gleam. there’s usually something interesting and beautiful happening with the light when i decide to pull my camera out. i like to capture those ephemeral moments when just for a fraction of time real life looks like a beautifully art-directed film. What drives you to keep photographing kids? i want to memorize every second of my daughter’s childhood. i have a terrible memory, so i take pictures instead. she loves to look through them and remember all of her friends, or special toys, maybe a favorite dress that she wore when she was three. When it comes to photographing other people’s kids, i find them to be so much more comfortable in front of the camera. they don’t need lots of direction, and it’s nice to give someone else a permanent memory, too!
Jamie first caught my eye on Flickr years ago with her amazing portraits of her daughter, Bunny. Always engaging, Jamie’s image series is filled with outstanding shot after outstanding shot that while might be just portraits of a child growing up, could hang on any gallery wall. Her key to making these childhood images not only gorgeous but compelling is the use of light, framing, and posing. She is a photographer and a musician who has often been accused of being too attentive to her dog, Piggy. She lives with her husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon. They tolerate her eccentricities because she makes them laugh every now and again. You can find Jaime’s work online and the full series of Bunny images on her Flickr stream.
Could you describe your process for a photo from idea to final image? i have a hard time setting up shots. i much prefer to capture images as they happen in real time. My camera remains parked in manual mode. the benefit i love the most about shooting digitally is that i don’t really have to miss moments metering for light anymore. i typically pop off a test shot and make adjustments to my exposure using the test shot as a reference. i do all of my editing on my laptop in ps3. Usually i work from my bed as it’s nice and cool and dark and darkroom-esque in there. have i mentioned how much i miss working in the darkroom? i can spend anywhere from fifteen minutes to over an hour working on an image. i just can’t seem to let go of the image until i’ve tried a dozen different tweaks. it’s that darkroom love in me popping up yet again. What one tip would you have for people to make their images of children more memorable? Candid shots will always be more cherished than posed ones. When you pore over photos of yourself as a kid, your favorites are probably the images of you engaging with other people or with favorite toys, not the ones of you standing rigidly next to your aunt harriet with a forced grin on your face. the everyday moments are so very special when you’re able to look back on them years later.
She takes photos of adorable kiddos and happy families as well as shooting campaigns for her commercial and editorial clients. i think some photos of needlework that i’m cataloging for a client. a pile of batteries. Where’s your camera bag right now. showing the progress of my bedroom in my new-to-me house.8. i had so much fun with that. or even their own ideas they’ve put into the shots. learning to overcome crappy equipment builds a great understanding for once you have earned the good stuff! a love for the art and a dedication to get better through constant practice is key. a 50mm 1. Facebook and her Portfolio and Blog She teaches classes with Rachel Devine at Beyond Snapshots and sells Childs Play Actions to make your photos pretty. Where do you get your inspiration? everywhere! Movies. New Zealand home. bright. When she’s not roaming the globe she calls Wellington. Ruby. What was the last photo that you took? With my dsLr.What is your photography background? i started taking photos using the still feature on my parent’s video camera about six years ago. Her images have the ability to make any viewer smile with their lovely light and quirky sense of humor. design magazines. nature. i can’t tell you how many times i’ve gone into a shoot with a specific idea in mind and ended up with something completely different because of what the subject has given me. paintings. LooK 88 peta Mazey This professional children’s photographer has an amazing ability to portray the world of kids beautifully. that’s one of the coolest things about working with kids—often the best shots come entirely from them and their personality. other things that i can’t live without. and a few rolls of color film are in the fridge. are a bunch of 4gB memory cards (not too big—don’t want to lose 12gB worth of photos!) and my old memory card reader UsB stick that i love to pieces. Her work is clean.8. and by the time i was out of university i had a fully formed business and a good little photography kit (a Canon 20d. so i got a point-and-shoot (one of those ones that look like mini sLrs. and what’s inside it? My camera bag is at my family home in a closet (not sure which) with a broken flash. oh. after a while other people started asking me to photograph their kids and families. was with my iphone. You can find her work on: Flickr. blogs (though not really photography blogs—there are very few photo blogs i keep track of). but are super-slow and not really very sLr-like at all). . and endlessly playful.8 back then). which should be in my camera bag but aren’t. the last photo i took. it was a great way to learn because there was no pressure and i could take the time to explore what worked for me. Peta’s use of color and photography technique is accentuated by a talent for design that’s apparent in her framing and composition of each shot. though. i was studying graphic design at university at the time and nannying for one of the cutest little girls ever. where she lives with her family and the cutest little dog around. My journey into photography has taught me that you don’t need the best equipment to get to learn. in fact. somewhere else in the house is a Canon 5d with a Canon 24–70mm 2.8 L lens attached and somewhere different again is a Canon eos 3 with a 50mm 1. and a tamron 17–50mm 2. music. and a wedding invitation in it. We had so much fun shooting together that we ended up taking photographs most days. Peta counts herself pretty lucky to have a job that takes her around the world shooting photographs and meeting awesome people. inspiration for me is a total mix of all that stuff and the subjects themselves.
and some are concepts that are interrupted by chance. some are chance from start to finish. if the child will take direction. My brain will go on a roll until i get to an idea of how i could best portray that in an image. or if i want them looking faraway and thoughtful i’ll give them something to think about. but the ones you’ll appreciate down the track are the ones where you were guided by them. some photos are concept from start to finish. even though i want the end result of a photo to look natural and spontaneous. if they’re tired and hungry and miserable. this process might happen over a week. i don’t mean just crouch down and get on a low angle.What drives you to keep photographing kids? they’re challenging and fun and honest. and up to a certain age they’re free of the selfconsciousness that often holds adults back. though. i’ve learned over time that arranging shoots around nap times and having breaks for food and rest makes all the difference with younger kids. i do like to consciously think through how to best harness the scene to make an image that makes the viewer react. i can’t say there aren’t times where i question myself for choosing to work predominantly with children. chances are the shoot will go great. if i want them laughing i’ll joke around with them or tickle them to get a giggle. although that helps—i mean see into their world. some days nothing seems to go right. i’ll nudge them down a path i have in mind. it’s time to give up and try again another day! Could you describe your process for a photo from idea to final image? My photos are half concept and half chance. Usually my ideas will start with a setting or a piece of clothing or even just seeing a child do something that i think could be made into more of a story through photography. i try to make it seem spur-of-the-moment and fun for them. or it could literally happen in twenty seconds. What do they enjoy doing? how can you capture that in a photo that tells a story? What are their quirks? What makes them shriek with laughter? a perfectly orchestrated photo of a child out in a field with a suitcase and a balloon might seem like a great idea now. most of the best photographs are orchestrated in some way. but i won’t force it. don’t forget about the charm of a simple. well-executed portrait either! LooK 89 . What one tip would you have for people to make their images of children more memorable? get on their level. laugh. or think. even simply thinking through the light in relation to the subject can take a photo from a snapshot to something else. even if i’ve had the end result in my head for a while. if they feel good. but the days where everything does come together make up for those crazy days a hundred-fold. Whether i’m shooting daily life or concept shots.
uk and on Flickr LooK 90 .. she runs her own studio.. i can remember so vividly how much i loved pickpicking the wallpaper off little bit by little bit. You can find her work online at rebeccahelen. little shred by little shred. i shudder to think how long my friends had to sit through “oh. the ring binder album with orangey pictures of my older sisters with their bellbottoms and pageboy haircuts. the one that sticks in my mind the most is of a small. just wallpapered over. ahh. North Wales with her three kids and an American expat husband. and the wallpaper below the windowsill is almost all picked off. Currently living in Conwy. Christine can tell a whole story in one image with her use of framing. Christine gill Christine’s images of her son and daughter are always so moving. open it up and there were hundreds more inside. there was nothing nicer than picking at a fresh patch of wallpaper and hearing that little tearing noise and seeing the bare wall or old paper underneath. i loved that box. even though i haven’t seen them for years. i did feel ever-so-slightly guilty. children. let me tell you. they tell a universal story of childhood. i could tell you about the joy of first being allowed to use my father’s old pentax sLr. light. i can remember some of the pictures very clearly that were taken during my own childhood. My photography background is viewing photographs and being in love with them.What’s your photography background? What got me interested in photography in the first place were simply photographs. it always made my mother so cross.. growing things. and this is the hornbill at the bird gardens.co. “We’ve only just put that wallpaper up!” she’d say. all sorts of animals. Great Britain. With their emotive lighting and composition. and i did try not to do it but. nature. and colors all working with her subject—all you need is that one shot. and the old albums as well: my parents’ wedding album with the scratchy silver cover and the pretty lacy protective paper between each photograph. She loves to take pictures of the things she loves.” My family had this large cream plastic cube with photos displayed on the outside of it. nothing. round me at the age of two or three standing by my bedroom windowsill. and her own family. exposing in places the bare walls below and in other places the wallpaper from long ago that was never removed. She loves the outdoors.. there’s a piece or two from a brightly colored plastic tea set that i loved to play with on the windowsill. and—ha ha—there’s a funny story about that. Christine was born and raised in South Wales. no more. i could tell you that i tried photography while doing an art course at college. and this is me eating sandwiches at the beach. but really that doesn’t compare to the years of looking through old photographs and being so grateful for the parts of my childhood that are preserved in them.
LooK 91 . they feel the unfairness of the world more starkly than we do. i want to immerse myself in the world of the child. and that was how he was able to write his books for children. the feeling of “oh. inevitably there will be sadnesses and frustrations. they have deep thoughts. his face mostly. but you can just see that his arms are resting behind his head. When i’ve taken a picture that i think preserves those feelings. a spare camera battery. What was the last photo that you took? it’s a picture of a ladybird on my daughter’s arm. a few lenses (sigma 70–300mm. i don’t feel i have come close yet. happy. a bandana. but i remember seeing the cover of the U2 album War. i should have taken a picture of her enjoyment of it. and an assortment of scratched-up filters that i never use. and what’s inside it? it’s on my bed. to take a portrait that’s more than a record of how a child looked at a particular time. But they’re not only that. bouncy stuff of childhood. i think it’s important to capture not only happy smiles but everyday moments as well. frustrated children. try my best to see things as they do. naughty children. We’ve just returned from a day out at the lake. surprised children. roald dahl once said most grownups have completely forgotten what it’s like to be a child between the age of five and ten. Where do you get your inspiration? i don’t know how old i was at the time. conflicted children. the boy’s eyes and his cut lip and messy hair—they tell a story all by themselves. along with a roll of toilet tissue. rather than focusing on the ladybird itself.8). and the old plastic fantastic nikkor 50mm 1. one of my very favorite things to witness and photograph is the connection between children and nature. sad children. but continue to carry around. they’re people. pretty young. ever. laughing children. and i dumped it there when we got in.Where’s your camera bag right now. four years old). to take a picture like that!” so far from the smiling. happy children. they’re complicated and unique. but just in case i don’t. i can pretty much remember what it was like. just in case i’ve gotten it wrong. it had a picture of a small boy on the cover. because children are and should be smiling and happy and bouncy. inside the bag is my camera (a nikon d200. but whenever i look at that picture it rises back up in me. so they can look back and know how something felt—that makes me happy.8. and those are good. it really made an impression on me. so it’s a blurry picture of a ladybird on my daughter’s arm. But he was able to remember exactly what it was like. tamron 17–50mm 2. he advised any grownup who really wanted to find out to get down on hands and knees and go about like that for a week. like roald dahl. fascinated children. as i got older i really wanted to be able to take a picture like that. i feel that. she wouldn’t hold it still enough. i guess i would say my biggest inspiration for taking pictures of children is simply children.
this was the time that. Memories are very important to me. yes. i love the portraits too. i want my kids to have pictures where they’ll go. the sun was streaming through the window and it felt warm on me and picked out the bright orange tones of the carpet. i don’t wanna miss a thing! LooK 92 . i think. but it’s important that it be said anyway. there is. but i do like to keep a good life record for them. “don’t eat the cat food. totally engrossed. you don’t even need to know what that thing is. “oh. but no photograph was taken. Like aerosmith. reds and blues. is of me sitting on the floor of my parents’ bedroom running my fingers through a pile of fish food that i’d just emptied onto the carpet. no doubt. it’s yuck!” i love that i have the picture of my daughter and her room covered in talc because she wanted to make it snow.” there’ll be memories in there that they wish they had pictures to go with. i can remember the dusty fishy smell and what it felt like to lift up the food and let the grains run through my fingers onto the floor..What drives you to keep photographing kids? My earliest memory. i love that i have the picture of my toddler son when he had clearly just popped a scoop of cat food into his mouth after being told and told and told and told. though. i would love to have it be a real picture that i could hold.. where the face says something very important. a picture of a two-year-old me happily making a trail of orange juice on the floor. sometimes there can be so much selfexpression in a single look. i love that my father decided to take that picture before telling me to not tip juice on the floor. i can remember the feel of the grains and the colors. it’s a beautiful picture in my head.
My favorite time to shoot is when someone is just doing their own thing. i quite like the results i’ve been getting with that. gaussian Blur. What one tip would you have for people to make their images of children more memorable? Keep your eyes open to the beauty of the everyday. and the light is streaming into the room and i just sit somewhere where i won’t interfere with what is going on and click away. i like to process the pictures straight away. if we’re going on an outing. i upload the pictures to iphoto. but i love the expressions that come between the poses. if i want to convert something to black and white. dancing to music. and i’ll miss some of that carefree spontaneity. which i often do. it comes down to when the light is pretty. or whatever it is that they like to do. rather than a performance. the sorts of colors and tones that i bring out.Could you describe your process for a photo from idea to final image? i very rarely stage a shot. and if i stay clicking for too long a performance is what it will turn into. and Unsharp Mask. i’m not sure. With the light being just perfect. the main tools that i use in photoshop are Curves. Well. where i have the last eight years of my life stored (as well as all backed up on an external hard drive) and my ancient photoshop Cs for editing. i think we remember those little things more than we remember birthdays or big special occasions. when the real person shines through. bringing the opacity of the layer to about fifteen percent and then upping the contrast. i let my daughter or whoever else i’m shooting choose her own poses. i do own an external flash (nikon sB 600). i’ve been feeling for the last few months that i’ve been a bit stuck in a rut just clicking on the actions. My son. i’ve made up a few simple actions for myself so that i can do this quite quickly now. usually. but when it is. there are looks that you know are put on for the camera. For the last week i’ve been adding a black-and-white layer to my color images. so i’ve been trying to play around more. these days. Be mindful of the little things. now a teenager. Mostly we’ll chat. i have no idea why that would make a difference. the best memories happen in everyday life. but i very rarely use it. LooK 93 . has very sadly developed an aversion to the camera. reading. Usually. sometimes i’ll notice a particularly beautiful stream of light coming into the room and look around for a child to put in it. Maybe the feeling of the moment actually influences the way i process the pictures. and i’ll catch some of those natural expressions. which is especially nice for when i’m doing a set of pictures that i want to have the same tone and brightness. to experiment. being engrossed in a computer game. Usually though. but i think it does. it’s my daughter. but it’s what i like best. the photo shoot doesn’t last more than a few minutes. Just a few shots—i want the shot to be natural. then i do that with the Channel Mixer. i do. there’s something about still being in the same feeling. then my camera is with me. this is rarely possible. playing. anyway.
Where’s your camera bag right now. color. break old habits. i look at them for not only ways to shoot my own kids. a spare camera battery. they all inspire me. i took a photo of my two-year-old helping me pack. but the styling of the clothes as well. it came with my current camera. i feel i’m still finding my own photographic style. i find it entertaining to look at those images and remember those moments. so they must have some secret. LooK 94 . and a expodisc white balance filter. as their parent. If you take the ideas on board and begin to put them to use. Anyone can do it if they have the desire to do so. the last photo i took with my mobile phone was a picture of my daughter’s stuffed Mickey Mouse that she placed in some really great light in our new house. i remember standing at the top and trying to remember everything about that experience. Fashion is an inspiration for many. i am biased. One more journey I want to share with you is that of Meredith Magnusson: a parent with a desire to get more from her photos of her children and the drive to keep up the process of refining her work. My children inspire me. and art—especially mixed media and abstract. but i just want to capture their beautiful eyes. You can view Meredith’s work on her MUM Photography Flickr photostream. and i wanted to get one last shot before we moved. i loved the natural light that we had at my old house. i also think they’re just beautiful. i am also inspired by fashion. music. i have a picture hanging on our wall that i took of the floor of the eiffel tower. so commercial photography helps me define this. What was the last photo you took? i try to take at least one photo every day. It’s not the case. the roughness of a sidewalk. the curves of a table lamp. and the buckles are broken. so who knows where my camera bag is? that bag is in a really bad state. a lot of times. and smiles so i can hold on to them forever. Currently i have an old speed light. everything was so interesting. and the commitment to follow through and keep trying the new things. With my dsLr. and what’s inside it? We recently moved. i think to myself that they’re adults in little bodies.Where do you get your inspiration? Most of my inspiration comes from my kids. texture. travel. capturing their “adult” mannerisms. Meredith Magnusson It’s always energizing to look at photographers who inspire you and get excited to start doing more with your own work—but sometimes it’s just as easy to dismiss the ability to grow yourself by thinking that they are professionals. you will see the change in your work. and learn from new sources of inspiration. even the crisscross design of the metal floor. design. texture and shapes also inspire me. the softness of a baby blanket. but mostly i’m inspired by children’s fashion. The change in her work is visible and her love for photographing children has continued to grow. a couple of kit lenses. because i love the silly things they do and always wonder what they think. skin. whether it is with my dsLr or my mobile phone. light. But really the reason i got into photography was because of my children. although i would be lying if i said i didn’t get inspiration from other photographers.
i’ve always been a fan of photography. color is all around—i get excited to see what it looks like in an image. the theory behind photography. My journey has been something that i never expected. it’s just a matter of really seeing what the world is showing you and connecting with those details visually. i found through photography i was really connecting with my baby. Whether it’s the color of bright children’s clothing or the deep red of a beetroot. as i kept taking pictures. than the perfect image is nonexistent. Light is another aspect that i look to. but i look to them and study their work to improve my storytelling. i have a list of things i know i need to work on. it’s something i use towards photography to help communicate my story i’m trying to tell. because the different colors of those objects are so vibrant and my eye is drawn to them. i don’t think i’ll ever be 100% happy with my work. which keeps me focused on practicing and perfecting my images. yet as i study more and more. i knew i needed to really learn how my camera worked.i always found myself leaning towards black-andwhite photography. if i want to convey life through my work. Looking back at that sense of observation now. and i was not only falling in love with her. from technical to editing. all in all. i remember being a child. it had been a long time since i had a hobby. and as a creative person i needed a creative outlet. i saw how big a world the photography community was and started looking and comparing works of photographers that i admired. always aware of how sunlight changed throughout the day and seasons. but also the new medium that i was using to capture my little girl. i’ve realized that nothing is ever perfect in life. sometimes i find myself taking a close-up picture of a group of rocks. Why do you want to learn more about photography? i first started really getting into photography a couple of years ago after our second child was born. i think as my interest grew. i’m increasingly inspired by color. Most importantly. however. i was pleased with the outcome to a point. LooK 95 . i no longer compare my work to other photographers. and has blossomed over time. especially of children. and what i could do as an artist. Looking back. inspiration is absolutely everywhere. but never really thought of it as something i could do.
and initially we all look at other photographers and have this dream of being as good as them someday.What has driven you to pick children as your subject? as a parent. to me. as you compare more. it’s a natural partnership. and there’s just something about a great portrait of a child that always makes me stop and feel. and there’s some level of intimidation that goes along with that. composition. When i want to plan a time to take pictures for the yearly Christmas card. BEF OR E O BEF RE O BEF RE LooK 96 . it’s truly a technical and emotional progression. all children are beautiful. it’s non-stop and can be often chaotic. Maybe it’s their innocence or not-so-innocence that reminds us of when we were that age. you realize that even those photographers feel that they need to refine their work. and ideally causing the same emotional experience with your audience. their editing. i call it the “compare” phase of the journey. i say hope. they don’t sit still. and how they use light and depth of field. and you have to deal with temperaments. and through that i hope to come up with my own style or voice. it’s not just about taking pictures. the best ones always end up being the spontaneous ones. and although there are some planned shots i do get. i spoke earlier of comparing photos to other photographers. the best part of photography is that you visibly see your progression. What one thing do you find the hardest when photographing children? some people may argue with this point of view. there’s a definite negative connotation that comes along with the word “compare”. however. and there is self-assurance that starts to resonate in your own work. truly. there always seems to be an overwhelmingly stressful feeling of rushing and getting the shoot over with. Confidence is a big aspect that grows over time. Could you briefly describe the process you use to refine your work? there isn’t a day when i don’t try to refine my work. and i look back at my older photos and reflect that i’ve come a long way in two years. i believe the photography means connecting with the person or object you’re photographing. it never really goes as planned. Kids are fascinating beings and a lot of us connect with them on so many levels. the negative comparisons become positive studying. the camera and children go hand in hand. Capturing their early quirks and discoveries before life gets a little more complicated is what i love to do. i take note of all the things i like. because i feel i’m still searching for those things. i get closer and closer to obtaining my own definition. it’s an art form. i think there’s a natural tendency to be drawn to photographing children. every day. practice is the magic piece to the puzzle. When i do look at other photographers. i can plan all i want. but taking pictures of kids has to be one of the hardest genres ever. i tend to study their style. overcoming this comes with confidence as a shooter. and with practice i’ve learned to let go and go with the flow. i guess the hardest thing i find is patience.
the 85mm 1.4 (which stays on my camera most of the time). Where’s your camera bag right now. I have had the pleasure of working with him on a speaking engagement and look forward to every post he shares.ryan Marshall Photographing children is not just the domain of female professional photographers and mothers with cameras. how they play their backgrounds. Here is a dad who is passionate about melding his love for his family and his love for photography into a fantastic art form that he shares with his readers on his awesome blog: Pacing The Panic Room. I first came to notice Ryan’s work (along with the rest of the world) as he documented his wife’s pregnancy with their daughter. seeing where they set their light sources. Where do you get your inspiration? i get almost all of my photography inspiration from films. the 50mm 1. What’s your photography background? i am a self-taught photographer in the sense that i never received any formal training. i’m always hitting pause when i watch a movie at home and studying the composition of a shot.8.8. and my favorite video lens the tokina 11–16mm 2. and i want to know more about it. and I really enjoy looking at the photos he shares knowing that they really were just the moment as he saw it. Learning about photography is my favorite part about photography. LooK 97 . His love for film inspires me. and hear how someone else might approach the same light. It was my father who was always behind the family camera capturing the moments as we lived them. seeing how much you can paint a picture with light is just fascinating to me. and what’s inside it? My camera bag is in the overhead compartment of this airplane on its way home from my first new york Fashion Week experience.2. What was the last photo you took? the last photo i took was at the reed Krakoff show at nyFW of a model who was running late and had three sets of hands in her hair trying to get the tangles out from the last show. i also carry around the usual number of backup batteries and cards. i never turn down the chance to talk some shop. but i have had many teachers along the way. inside i have the Canon 7d with the 24mm 1. Light is such an emotionbuilder.
i have to give them What one tip would you have for people something to do. but also see their spirits and personalities taking shape.What drives you to keep photographing kids? i almost exclusively photograph my own children and. get the camera. ‘i loved those shoes’. and then i sneak off. memorable? the less they notice you. When you shoot that. even if you just sneak a shot of them lacing up a favorite pair of shoes. it’s a bit like magic. hold that picture up. well. Could you describe your process for a photo from idea to final image? if it is a photo of the kids. it’s usually a situation that i see take shape. waiting my turn to go. your kids don’t have to be forced to smile in every photo for them to remember they were happy kids. but the expression on my face was somehow adult that it was a little window into my personality. don’t forget to shoot their happy memories too. i have this snapshot my mother took of me as a kid: i’m just standing in this pool. the more genuine the air is when your finger hits that shutter. the things they fall in love with are wonderful and usually pure fantasy. and not just see their growth physically. even if it’s as simple as filling to make their images of children more up a watering can with water. if i’m just after a portrait. so they have a collection of their memories. LooK 98 . and say. the second i try to direct them to stay engaged in whatever activity they were doing. and the better the picture will be. the drive is to freeze them in time. they will get older. so there is a ton of stealth to most of the shots i get. i want the kids to look back. it’s over. and will try to not interfere with the moment.
haphazardly standing on his head on the couch. always seemed to take center stage. but later that night I wanted to take a few shots of my niece and nephew. #dpskids . It is an image I took on the same day that we had our professional family portrait taken.remember One photo in particular has hung framed on a wall in every home I have lived in since 1997. I can clearly remember the children that they really were and I can see the beginnings of the adults they have since grown to be. his crazy disruption could be seen as ruining the shot. As my flash lit up the scene. I can tell that they are in the ‘sweater and pants combination’ we as a family wore on that important portrait day. my niece. The littlest member of our big family. but this is what has made the shot so memorable and special. Even in black and white. What I want you to take away from this book is that child photography is more than tack sharp eyes and big smiles. However. it revealed her older brother in the background. It is your turn to begin now. Being present and prepared is what will give you the confidence to get the pretty portraits that you want. it is made of memories and true personality. my nephew Ian sits quietly for the camera and Kellan’s ever present pile of stuffed animal security objects are nowhere to be seen. when I look up at the photograph I took that day. I did not have my camera out while the hired photographer was working. so I decided to capture an image of her standing on the coffee table just before she was told to get down. but also create the powerful images you never knew you couldn’t live without. To some. When I look back at our professional portrait.
3. key discussions in our forums. Become a Forum Member Over 190.com facebook: facebook. It contains links to the latest tutorials on the site. WANT MORE? How to Keep Improving Your Photography Of course there is a lot more to learn about photography and I’d like to personally invite you to continue to journey with us as we explore the topic on the Digital Photography School site. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook Many of our readers also choose to interact with dPS on social media sites Twitter and Facebook. To get this free weekly newsletter sign up here: 2.sesameellis. Not only do we think they’ll thank you for helping them improve their photography but it helps to keep growing the dPS community with every sale of the book. Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter Each Thursday I email a free newsletter to over half a million of our readers. including the “share your shots” forum where readers are encouraged to submit their photos. In this section of the site members share what they’re learning.racheldevine.com/sesameellis twitter: @sesameellis Tweet about it Sign Up twitter. great resources and equipment for photographers and shows off some great photography. Please pass on news of this ebook by: Email a Friend Share this link with your friends who you think might appreciate learning how to improve their photography: digital-photography-school.com blog: www. reviews.com/digitalps happy snapping! Darren Rowse .SHARE THE LOvE Thanks for buying a copy of dPS’s latest photography resource. I trust that you’ve found it helpful in becoming a better photographer. There are areas for all kinds of photography.com/digitalps facebook. twitter or by visiting her blog or website: website: www. post their best photos. There are three main ways that I’d like to invite you to do this: 1. Become our ‘friend’ on these sites for updates from the site as they happen! Tell a Friend If you’ve enjoyed this resource we’d love for you to share news of it with a friend. ask and answer questions and have a lot of fun with their camera.com/ kidsphotos Con neCt With raCheL you can connect with rachel on Facebook. We’d love for you to join us – simply visit our forum area and look for the join now link.000 of the readers at dPS have joined our free forum/community area.
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