Monday, June 20, 2011

Photography Tips and Tricks for Photographing Children

I have been obsessed with cameras since my mom bought my first film camera when I was a little kid. I used to photograph anything and everything. I have come a long way since then, teaching myself by reading books and scouring the internet along with some formal education. In no way do I claim to know everything but after being in business for several years, I do have a few tricks up my sleeves.

I started thinking a few weeks ago that I want to share some of my knowledge. I want to help the normal, every day person take better photos of the important things in their lives and maybe even suggest a few tricks that will help other professionals to think differently. I will ask for topic suggestions from time to time, so if there is something specific you want to learn, feel free to ask me and it may be featured on my blog.

For my first tips and tricks blog, I think I will keep it simple. I've been asked by several people to cover some lighting how to's. Since this is such a broad and complicated topic, I will start covering this in future blogs so stay tuned! For now, I will try to answer a question from an old friend who has one-year-old identical deaf twins. When I asked for topic ideas on my Facebook page, she wrote "How to get two toddlers to look (maybe even smile?) at me and my camera at the same time?"

I will start by saying that one toddler is difficult. Two toddlers can be almost impossible even for the seasoned pro. I know all too well that what may work for one child, may not work for another. So, I will outline a few tricks and general rules to try. You can try any combination of tricks that you wish and keep in mind that kids are smart. They will learn your tricks and then you will have to come up with new ones. :)

1. Keep a cool head and do NOT get irritated. If you become irritated and demand that a child look and smile, guess are NOT going to get a happy, smiling photo. If you want the child to be happy and smile, they need to be happy and be enjoying the photo taking experience. Sounds obvious, right? I can't count the number of times I have seen a parent yelling at their child to "LOOK AT ME AND SMILE RIGHT NOW!" I sigh and shake my head, knowing that not only is the child now in a grumpy mood because they are being yelled at but they have now learned that having their photo taken is no fun at all. By yelling at your children while taking photos, you have taught them to automatically be grumpy every time you pull out the camera.

2. Taking photos should be fun! Play games with your child and be ready to snap the photo quickly. Make funny noises like farting sounds, use noise makers like whistles, tickle them with your hands or a feather, play peek-a-boo, sing their favorite song, put funny objects on top of your head, pretend to sneeze, say funny things like "stinky feet" or make up a game that causes interaction between you and your child. Use your imagination! What would make your child smile? What would make them laugh? If you don't know then it is time to experiment. What a great way to bond with your kids and really get to know their personality in a new way. For kids with special needs, you will need to adapt your play to reflect their needs. In the example with the deaf twins, you could stomp on the ground to cause a vibration while waving a bright object to get their attention. Then make funny faces, etc. and repeat as many times as necessary.

3. Praise your child for positive behavior. You just finished taking a few pics of your kid(s). You kept your cool, you played games with your child and took a few decent photos. Maybe you didn't get that big old cheesy grin that you wanted but it doesn't matter! If you took any photos at all with any cooperation at all, then you have succeeded. Give your kid a high-five and openly brag about how great they did. Show them the photo on your camera, give them a prize or anything else you can think of to make them remember that 'cooperating when I have my photo taken' means that everyone is happy. The more positive experiences your child has while having their photo taken, the easier it gets.

I will admit that photographing my own children is one of the toughest photo assignments, mainly because they are comfortable with me and know every single one of my tricks. As they are getting a little older, it is getting easier. So hang in there. Expect some cooperation but do not expect perfection. That is just too much pressure for anyone. Have fun and make the photo taking experience an enjoyable one!

No comments:

Post a Comment