The above photograph of these two pals and their dog was made on one of the girl’s front lawns and the photographer was lying on her stomach to get the shot. This puts the camera on their level and helps minimize background clutter. Exposure in Shutter Priority mode was 1/160 sec at f4/7 and ISO 400 with the FL-50R flash used (with diffuser in place.) ©2010 Mary Farace
Some digital point and shoot cameras even have a “kids” mode some of which boils down to the same advice I’m gonna give you:
Keep shutter speeds approaching or matching the highest flash synch mode your camera offers. Your small subjects are not going to stay still all that long and a fast shutter speed will freeze those few moments of repose or capture action.
Use flash. That’s the second reason for keeping the shutter speed at or near the camera’s synch speed. Flash adds some additional sparkle and illumination to have the kids “pop” out from the background and fill in shadows because you won’t always be in the most perfect position to catch that special moment The small pop-up flash built into digital SLRs is a good place to start, but don’t be afraid to use a larger speedlight that’s part of your camera system.
Pick a modest aperture. Select one that’s closer to wide open to minimize depth-of-field and soften the background. I always say that “if you take care of the background, the foreground will take care of itself,”
Select an ISO that’s a bit higher than you might otherwise for the conditions. An ISO of 400 is going to give you more flexibility with choosing shutter speed and aperture as well as squeeze a little more output from a pop-up flash.
Choose Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority mode. Program mode, while tempting to use, might not be a good choice since it tends to favor increased shutter speed over aperture and by selecting either Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority mode you will be able to manage which of these two controls seems more appropriate for a given lighting and shooting situation.
Get down on you subject’s level to shoot at them not down on them. You’ll get better pictures and your small subjects will relate better to you if you get down on their level. That’s means you might have to sit on the grass or get down on the ground so be sure to wear your grungies.
Don’t pose your subjects. Let them be themselves. They’ll put themselves in this position, often for only for the briefest moments so you’re gonna have to work fast and capture the image the microsecond you see it. Sometime you will only be able to get two frames and sometime just one. Don’t wait! Snap the shutter now.
This post sponsored by Mamiya – Big Prints Small Price