Guest Post and Photo by Catherine Hall – Follow Catherine on Twitter
Children are such a delight and capturing the liveliness of their antics and innocent faces can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a portrait photographer. They are not afraid to run around, make a mess of things; and that’s what makes photographing children great – you never know what to expect! Here are five tips on how to get the most from these wonderful creatures:
They are the boss
Make no mistake, children are their own bosses. If you want something from them, you’ll have to work for it. Some kids are naturals in front of a camera and will pose effortlessly. If you are faced with difficult or camera-shy kids, leave them alone and photograph other kids or people around them. They just want attention and will come around when they see how much fun everyone else is having. If they never come around, take the photojournalistic route – observe and snap, snap, snap.
They don’t get out of bed even for $10,000
If you think supermodels are prima donnas, you’ve never encountered a sleepy or hungry kid. Children get grumpy or antsy when they are deprived of basic needs. Be respectful of the child’s schedule and arrange the photo session after they’ve had their nap or regular meal. Ask parents when their child is in the best mood or when they are most animated and engaged.
Kids will be kids
Let kids play and be themselves. Let them run around and explore the space, instead of posing them deliberately. Treat them with respect and as human beings with thoughts and desires. Children are very perceptive to intention, and if you are kind and warm, they will sense that and open up. Ask them to pick a spot and let them do what they would like to do. Engage them, keep them interested and have a great time.
Parents are an important part of the equation – and they can provide you invaluable information about the child. However, it’s also important for you to have some time alone with the child to establish a rapport. Often, children are much better when parents are not involved directly with the shoot. This allows the photographer and child to build a rapport unaffected by familial dynamics.
Help’s around the corner
It can be intimidating to work with a subject you cannot control. Remember you are the artist and if you have a vision, don’t be afraid to ask for help. For my Tasmania series, I had a vision of a girl – who was wearing pants – twirling in a dress. So, I asked her parents to change her outfit. If something is not consistent with your vision, be creative and think of how you can get your shot. But remember, let loose!
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