Preserving the memories of babies and children is one of the most touching aspects of photography. Although the challenge is daunting, there are ways to make the task easier and with modern digital cameras, the results can be wonderful.
When it comes to photography there is one subject that is undoubtedly everyone’s favorite, your children. Despite growing up under the shadow of a lens from cradle to graduation, children are not the most willing of subjects. There are some tips and tricks that the professional photographer uses when composing photo’s of children, perhaps some of these could help you with your next family gathering.
Babies are such a joy to photograph, generally it is best to wait until they are asleep when you are able to pose them anyway you wish. As they get a little older try photographing them after a meal, when you can start to capture the beauty of their eyes and facial expressions.
For a soft image use the natural light from a window, get in as close as you can and avoid focusing from above, get down to the child’s level. Capture those tender moments with either parent or both. Fun shots are easy with a sleeping child, try Dad fast asleep on the couch, baby on his chest. Popular images, but simple to recreate are combining babies hands or feet alongside those of the parent. Always ensure the child looks undisturbed and the pose is natural.
Once your baby starts to find his feet, your photography skills will be challenged. Toddlers in general do not tend to stay still for very long, even if they are just sitting on the floor. Depending on your type of camera it would be to your advantage to select the sports mode or use a fast shutter speed.
Again it is advisable to shoot from floor level, the one big bonus of this age group is that they are not aware of what you are doing and have no objection to your camera getting close.
Toddlers are great for action shots; their passion for the world around them is visible in their eyes and hands. Focus on the face, nearly everything they pick up is immediately taken to their mouth. Collect some props that they have not seen before and be ready to photograph their reactions.
Remember to capture the first tooth, first pair of shoes and all of the ‘firsts’.
Children grow so fast and it is wonderful to be able in later years to review the memories of their younger days. Do not delete any pictures portraying tears or sadness; these emotions are all a part of growing up. If your camera catches a fall, later it will raise a smile.
Photographing children is totally different to handling babies and toddlers, now they have a mind of their own and start to question why you need to photograph them so much.
One of the best ways to get children to co-operate with you is to let them become involved with the camera. By showing them the pictures you have just taken on the rear screen of your camera, usually means they will want you to take more.
Make sure you keep a photography session with your children fun; just let them play naturally and zoom in for the action shots. Do not make any requests for formal posing, what you can do is play along. Ask them to laugh, to shout, to put on a happy or a sad face. This game goes down very well, they love to see the pictures afterwards and you get a great variety of emotional photographs. Props work well for older children too; it helps them to forget the camera is there.
The one thing to remember when you wish to photograph children is that you must work with them, not expect them to provide the shots you wanted. Try to capture the moment, the real story with your camera. At a children’s party do you just want a line of posed smiling children or the pictures of them simply being natural and having fun.
For photographing babies and children you need a lot of patience, yes a lot of patience, a lens to move in close, a spare battery and the largest memory card you can buy for your camera.