Child Photography: Look at Mommy and Say Cheese
|March 3, 2012||Posted by admin under Photography|
It is your typical photo of your child, a goofy grin he never accomplishes, except in photos, and a blank stare directly into the lens of the camera. Let us recall the purpose that we, as parents, have when we snap a picture… to capture and record a moment in time that we will forever treasure. How many moments in time does your child stare directly at you and say “Cheese?” Not often. So quite trying to capture that moment! Let us instead record the true moment and feeling that inspired us to dig out our camera in the first place.
How wonderful is it to be the “fly on a wall” in your child’s world sometimes? To listen to their imaginative talk, and witness their intense concentration is an experience only a parent can relate to. These are some of the most precious times we will have with our kids, and a wonderful moment to capture forever. Who cares if their hair is a mess and they are wearing an old t-shirt. It brings all the more trueness to the shot.
When I am faced with an opportunity such as this, I sneak quietly out of the room, grab my camera, determine the settings I wish to use, and then quietly sneak back in to compose and take the picture. Up and until the camera was fired, my child had no idea I was there. I have an absolutely accurate account of what I was witnessing at that moment, which will always bring back fond memories of who my child truly was, even when no one was around.
Engage them in a Conversation
Okay, so I fired off the camera and instantly snapped my child’s attention out of whatever it was she was doing. Does this mean that my opportunity for a beautiful photograph has expired? Absolutely not! Once the child is aware of my presence, which may or may not happen after you capture at least one photo, you can continue to maintain the trueness of the moment by engaging him in a conversation about what he is doing.
Say, for example, your son is engaged in an emergency rescue episode with his Rescue Heroes. Ask him questions about what is going on, what is the emergency, who are they rescuing. Watch as his facial expressions change to emphasize his story, as he flies the helicopter to the scene and begins saving the innocent. Start snapping photos as you continue the conversation, taking moments to make eye contact with him and let him know that you are truly interested in what he is telling you. Trust me, when the day comes that you go pick up your photos from the developer, you will have an entire story line of that very conversation to treasure. Another cute idea for such photos, purchase a frame with four or more cut outs where you can put several pictures of the same “pose” lined up side by side to tell the story to friends and family when they visit.
Let them Play
In general, children do not love to go to the mall and have their picture taken. Why? Because, we ask them to sit really still, smile at the camera, and fold their hands nicely in their lap, until we change their pose and start all over. Well, for children, this simply doesn’t come naturally. The experience would be much more enjoyable, not to mention creating more beautiful photographs, if the kids were allowed to be themselves. At the photo studio in the mall, with some seventeen-year-old kid growing increasingly impatient with your child’s inability to sit still for the picture, this may not be possible.
How to Photograph Kids
However, if you want to put your foot down and your opinion appears to matter, try some of these ideas. Allowing her to choose a prop she would like to hold (whether or not it matches the fancy dress she is wearing), and follow her lead in it rather than forcing her to smile at the camera. Would the photo really be so awful if your little girl was innocently looking down at her newfound toy with great interest instead of staring at the camera with a forced grin? Also, forget sitting down and holding a pose, allow them to wander across the backdrop as they please. If you have more than one child, let them play a game together, or sing a song, and allow them to sit in the manner they feel most comfortable. How many times have you left the studio absolutely frustrated because your kids just wouldn’t cooperate? Try these ideas, and you may have much better luck, not to mention, much better portraits.
At home, the same basic rules can apply. It is always a good idea to set yourself up for a great photo opportunity instead of always waiting for one to appear on its own. There is nothing wrong with staging the scene. However, remember your child’s most natural desire is to play, explore and discover. That is how they grow up to be such intelligent adults as ourselves! So allow room for this type of play within your composition of the photo.
Groups of Kids
There are, indeed, occasions when we need our kids to line up in a row and allow us to take a picture of the group (i.e. your son’s baseball team or your daughter’s dance class). They still are not going to entirely enjoy this experience, but too bad, Mommy wants a picture to remember! That is fine, but there are a few ways to soften the edge, so to speak.
The easiest way to ease the tension in a group of antsy kids is to tell them all to make the goofiest, scariest, silliest, or weirdest face they can make. Let them change their poses a few times, and actually take the pictures. You may be surprised that you enjoy these more than the serious ones, but at the very least, your kids with really love them! Then, give them a minute or two to re-compose themselves, although the giggles will continue to roll through the group (which is actually the best part). Ask them to stand tall and nice for the camera, take a few more shots, and chances are that many of the kids still have the same genuine smile they had after they laughed and giggled about the faces they made. The result is a truly beautiful, and pretty painless, experience for all parties involved.
The basic motto here is that children will be children and we want to capture the essence of that fact. Don’t portray your kids to be something they are not, photograph who they are and what they love. The standard format for portraits is boring and tiresome for kids, so offer them something new while you bring a unique freshness to your photos.
The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Children
Part of the popular BetterPhoto series, this book shows photographers how to get great shots of children of all ages, under any conditions, and with any subject. Learn how to use light, composition, and exposure to help improve photographs, how to capture a moving target and how to develop rapport with even the shyest or most rambunctious child.
Your Baby in Pictures: The New Parents’ Guide to Photographing Your Baby’s First Year
The first twelve months of your child’s life are full of precious, fleeting moments, from sleepy newborn yawns to first smiles and wobbly first steps. Why entrust your memories to hastily taken snapshots – or worse yet, none at all? Let professional photographer (and mom) Me Ra Koh help you capture the moments with 40 beautiful “photo recipes” anyone can do, with any camera. Telling your baby’s story in pictures has never been easier!
The Art of Children’s Portrait Photography
Contemporary photographs that cleverly capture a child’s mood or personality – whether that’s a big, toothy grin or a teary tantrum – are easily created with the tips and techniques explored in this in-depth handbook. Often called “lifestyle photography,” modern techniques such as tightly cropped close-ups, vignettes, wide angles, and shallow depths produce images that are markedly less stiff and more expressive than traditional portraiture.
From capturing great expressions and body language to integrating meaningful locations into the shoot to further express the subject’s personality, this guide thoroughly explains how photographers can develop their image-storytelling skills to develop stunning portraits. Advice on creating platinum and chocolate-hued prints, vibrant color scenes, dramatic black & whites, and utilizing unusual textures or effects is also included.