There are many photographers who shudder at the thought of having kids as their main subjects for shoots. Kids can be uncooperative, squirmy and cranky. It is the job of the photographer to draw them out of their shells and to win their hearts. The personality of each child also varies in great lengths. Whether it is dealing with a high-energy kid or a reserved kid who is camera-averse, capturing satisfying images requires a certain level of patience, effort, and flexibility.
Despite what it sounds, this need not be a painful ordeal. With the right methods, you will undoubtedly be able to produce photos that tug at the heartstrings of viewers. We hope the tips in this article can help you get started!
Get on their level
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Instead of shooting while standing upright, try getting down on your knees or lie on your tummy to get to the eye level of kids. When you make the effort to go down to their level, it shows that you are showing them respect. Photography is a common language that even kids understand, and if they sense that your intentions are genuine, you will find them slowly opening up to the camera. This is an opportunity for you to capture priceless expressions!
If you find this too effortful, consider using the Canon EOS 6D Mark II. The vari-angle LCD monitor on this camera will make it easier for you to get on their level. This is also especially helpful when shooting at awkward angles!
Image Credit: @bellybokeh
Interact with them
Nobody likes having a camera shoved in their faces and this is especially so for kids. Avoid going straight into taking a photograph as a camera may be seen as a frightening foreign object in their eyes. The last thing you want is to upset a kid as this will cause them to retreat even more during a shoot. Instead, make them feel comfortable through interactions such as playtime or even by making silly faces!
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Give yourself permission to be a little goofy. This will help them get over their initial shyness! After building rapport, all that is left is to lift up your camera. Kids will be more likely to respond to your request once they feel comfortable enough to engage with you. You may even ask them to look directly into your lens for an image with a stronger visual impact.
Image Credit: @pairadaime
For capturing close-up portrait shots with a shallow depth of field, we recommend using prime lenses such as the Canon EF85mm f/1.4L IS USM or Canon EF50mm f/1.4 USM. Due to their wide apertures, subjects are accentuated from the creamy background blur and this helps to make your image pop!
Follow their lead
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Kids tend to be subjects that are highly unpredictable. Instead of orchestrating the entire shoot, sometimes it’s easier to let loose and follow their lead. Rather than desperately chasing them for a smile, choose to quietly go with the flow. Allow them to explore their surroundings. If so, you are more likely to end up with images of them presenting genuine smiles instead of strained and inauthentic ones.
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At times, the results of images taken stealthily may turn out even better than posed ones. These shots may possess an added element of surprise that is often hard to replicate. Learn to immerse yourself in the kid’s world and let your camera see what they see. For the most part, photography is about being in the right place at the right time. A tip in capturing the most spontaneous and natural expressions is to anticipate the moment and to shoot from a distance away.
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Unfortunately, some photographers may get too caught up in setting up a perfect shot that they fail to capture the essence of a moment. The truth is that not all shoots have to be perfectly staged and this is where candid photography comes to play. Learn to embrace imperfections, whether it is chocolate-stained lips or dishevelled hair. This makes your image feel more alive and real. It is also often in these candid moments that a child’s personality shines through!
Image Credit: @vanessaclementsoncreative
Despite the challenges that kid photography brings, it will most definitely be rewarding at the end of the day. Above all, remember to have fun and keep practising. With time, you are sure to produce adorable images of little ones that cause viewers to involuntarily squeal.
If you have tried our tips and would like to share your images with us, feel free to do so by tagging us at #CanonSG!