This month we asked YOU for your best tips to capturing great child portraits! We received a lot of valuable tips that we’d love to share with other photographers out there! Here are some of our favorite contest answers:
1. Always remember the acronym PROFIT:
Props – have lots of fun and funky this for kids to wear, just make sure they are age appropriate.
Rest – don’t push kids for too long, let them rest and be distracted
Original – allow kids to be themselves, if you have a pose you want to capture work it so that they think it’s their own
Fun – if it ain’t fun, it ain’t going to happen
Imagination – Let children use their imagination and when theirs runs out use yours
Time – can be your friend or your enemy so don’t plan anything immediately after a children’s shoot that makes you have to rush things.
2. First of all, ask parents before the shoot about their interests. Then, research their interests enough to be able to ask them questions. Get them talking and excited, get down at their level and shoot away!
I also always ask them to look for their favorite characters hiding in my lens. I get the coolest shots that way!
3. Find out what you and the kids have in common, it helps to have knowledge of things kids might like: cartoons, video games, sports, super heroes, movies, etc.
Kids aren’t super complicated, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard their intelligence, most kids are smarter than you think & once you’ve made a connection with them & they’re comfortable with you it’s easier to get them to smile & pose for the pictures the way you want them to.
For instance knowledge of cartoon characters & other characters or people in general children would be familiar with comes in handy when trying to get them to pose a certain way.
ex: if you were to tell a kid to pose like a specific superhero they’d be more than willing to do so.
Also good conversation about kid-friendly subjects is helpful to keep their attention & interest, which will make the shots alot easier to take.
4. Have the parents away from you and the child. Parents are the single biggest distraction/issue. If they were effective in directing their child in front of the camera, they wouldn’t need you. They should be present, of course, but not within a speaking range to the child.
5. The best advice is to only allow a single parent to the shoot, and have them stand behind you at camera level. This allows the children to make eye contact with the camera. If mom is standing off to the side, the kids are going to look to the side…Also having only a single parent there it eliminates distractions. Often times I have seen parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and everyone else come to a shoot, and the poor child has so many people trying to get their attention, it just doesn’t work……
6. I have a neon rubber bracelet, tha has little rubber star balls attached to it, that I got from the dollar store, and it fits around my lens perfectly, and it catches their eyes, I also bought a few extras and tell them they can have one if they are good during my photo shoot! it works! I also keep some small noise makers as well stashed in my bag, to draw their attention! works all the time!
7. For fun, playful portraits use flat lighting. It goes against everything we are taught as photographers but the most valuable lighting tool I have for photographing kids is an 86″ parabolic umbrella.
After setting up my background, props, and lighting I meter the light at three points. The mid-ground, where the active child is likely (perhaps with a little coercion) to spend most of their time. The foreground, the closest point at which a quality photograph is viable. The background, the furthest point at which a quality photograph is viable. By knowing these three meter readings all it takes is a quick turn of a camera dial to keep my settings correct (or pretty darn close) no matter where the child plays within my metered range.
Using flat lighting allows the child to play with the props (I have them bring their favorites plus have a surprise or two for them) and move around without casting harsh shadows or missing those great smiles because the child was facing left instead of right.
An alternative to the 86″ parabolic umbrella is two 43″ umbrella’s to the left and right of the camera with only a slight angle to them so they still provide flat lighting across the scene.
8. Be patient and ALWAYS talk to the kids not down to them.
9. You MUST be ~SiLlY~ 😛 !!!! You should be an expert at making silly faces, silly noises, wave your arms in the air like you just don’t care kinda silly. Kids have the BEST smiles when they are having fun, oh and laughing at me! 🙂
10. Get them talking! Ask them about the books they read, or their friends at school, or their favorite pet. They’ll forget they’re sitting in front of a camera and you’ll get a natural shot.