The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: How to Photograph Children

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to Photograph Children

I decided to combine something I know very little about (photography) with something I'm quite familiar with (children).  So I researched online to find out how to save pictures of your little ones and this is what I found....

Before you begin a photoshoot with children, make them as comfortable as possible with the situation.  Let them look at the camera, touch it, examine it, etc.  Show them what happens when the flash occurs so they won't be frightened by the bright light.  Explain how you will be able to show the picture to grandparents and other relatives who may live far away.

Choose your setting carefully. Consider interesting backgrounds - the aquarium, zoo, nature center, etc.  However, the background should be rather simple, rather than busy so you can focus on the child rather than the background.  Watch your child interact with his or her environment and snap many photos to get the best shot. Inside, look for a plain background, as well - a wall or curtains.  Place items around your child that will provide an interesting play item.  A stuffed bunny for an Easter picture or a Santa for a Christmas card.

Candids are better than poses. Watch for that "Kodak moment" when your children least expect you to take their pictures.  Unless you want a portrait-style picture, the best pictures usually involve a child chasing a bubble or tumbling with the puppy.  Let the wind blow their hair around.  The picture doesn't have to be perfect; in fact, the less than perfect picture is usually better.

Watch the sun.  Outside, the sun wreaks havoc with photographs.  It causes children to squint, offers funky shadowing effects, and sometimes too much light, which washes out the picture.  The long low light of late afternoon is great for photographing children, but it's also the time when kids are most likely to be testy!

Kneel down.  When you photograph kids from your height, the result is that the children look small and insignficant.  Alfred Hitchcock used this trick very effectively in his movies to make certain characters seem unimportant or looked down on by other characters.  Look at your children from their level for the best picture.

Add other people ... or parts of other people.  You don't need to see the whole adult as the child looks up.  Remember, focus on the child!

Get creative.  Experiment with different poses, hands under their chin, doing a cartwheel on the lawn, running through a sprinkler, or sleeping on the dog. Try printing the pictures in black and white to see high contrast pictures more dramatically. However through all that creativity, focus on your child's eyes and make them your center of attention.

For more information on photographing your children to preserve their youth, go to these resources:
Teachers, you can use this information, as well, to document your students from year to year.  How I wish I had started my own "yearbook" when I began teaching to document the hundreds of young people who walked into my classroom each year!

Happy Parenting and Happy Teaching!

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