How to take pictures of children? - a guide for photographers
Children are parents' greatest treasure - this is a fact known to the world not from today. Although they take plenty of pictures of their little ones every day, these shots are not always worth framing and hanging on the wall. Nevertheless, after the birth of a new family member, the toddler's photos take priority in photo albums, both physical and on phones. Their happiest period in life is worth commemorating in many different ways - children grow very quickly, and photographs are a wonderful souvenir not only for themselves, but especially for their parents.
Taking photos of children is one of the most joyful, but also demanding photographic fields. Before starting your business, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few rules that will make your work easier and much more enjoyable, and your photos successful. The beginnings are rarely easy, but the satisfaction of parents can compensate for any hardship you experience during the session. A professional photo session can also be the perfect opportunity for the whole family to experience something new and build new memories together. Here are some of our tips for baby photography!
Photographing newborns - how to get started?
Infant photography is certainly a unique field - photos taken of the smallest children exude calmness, innocence and tenderness. However, it is an activity that carries great responsibility, requiring adequate preparation, both on the part of the parents and the photographer.
Before arranging the first session, first of all, it is worthwhile to reach for advice on blogs run by industry professionals to gain as much theoretical knowledge in this area as possible. Also look among the photos shared on Instagram or Pinterest for inspiration in terms of framing, bean placement or decorations. However, don't try to dress the baby up or put him into complicated positions with props on the first session - try photographing him when he's lying on the bed, or in the arms of one of the parents, at first.
Your first newborn session
The younger the baby is, the more time it spends sleeping - this is a basic point to consider if you want to engage in newborn photography. For this reason, the ideal time to take infant photos is the first, possibly the second week of the baby's life. After this time, the chances of a successful photo shoot diminish, and the baby's completion of the first month of life makes it completely impossible to take successful photos in this style.
To make sure that the baby bean will sleep peacefully during the session, take care of a warm, soft blanket - it's best if it's a solid, muted color that will show up nicely in the frame. Also ask the parents to feed the baby before the session begins. A humming sound, such as a recording of rain or a hairdryer turned on, is also extremely helpful when photographing newborns - it helps with falling asleep, and an infant plunged into a tasty sleep will bravely hold the pose you put them in. However, if the baby wakes up during the session, don't try with your parents to bring him back to sleep at all costs. Try to capture a few frames where the behemoth yawns or stretches - this will make the end result of the whole session natural and varied.
Newborn photos are best taken in their home environment, but inviting the newly born family to the studio is usually not a big problem, as long as each member of the family has had a chance to rest after the birth. The comfort of the behemoth and its parents should be your top priority - if you have your own creative space, make sure there is a place for changing and feeding, as well as keeping the temperature high enough. Even if the room is warm, a session with a naked toddler should take place next to a small heater or fan, set at a safe distance from the baby.
During a session with a newborn in the lead role, it's convenient to work with ambient light - a large window in a room is a graceful source of natural light, but it's hard to modify or change its direction or power. Similarly, when your studio is walled off on all four sides In such situations, working with lamps or panels is inevitable. Although it can be more complicated yes it has its advantages - it gives the photographer full control over the final look of the photo.
Lamps with constant light are an excellent solution for the beginning, both for those who are beginning their adventure with photography and for those already experienced. Above all, they allow you to preview the effect "live" and make adjustments on the fly, even before the photo is taken. The most versatile will be the models offering light color adjustment - thanks to this feature, you will get many different effects with a single lamp, and its light can be adjusted to that coming through the window, for example, to fill the shadows in the photo.
The use of flash light during newborn sessions is quite a controversial topic - according to some people, it should not be used when taking photos of this type. Despite this, many photographers successfully use it during their work, with full attention to the safety of the baby, while obtaining great results in the photos. However, these are people who are very familiar with the operation of flash lights - to use them you need, at least a little skill and understanding of their operation.
If you already know the basics of how to use flash light and decide to use it, remember that it must be extremely soft and diffused, so as not to potentially frighten a small model if he accidentally wakes up during the session. Use the low power values available for the flash - sometimes it's 1/32, but it can go up to 1/64 or even 1/256. Photographing newborns, fortunately, does not require advanced features - the behemoth remains motionless throughout the session, so you can safely use basic flash models. For best results, it's also best to use a large-diameter softbox, which can mimic natural light from a window. This kit can also be used when photographing older children in the studio.
If you feel that newborn photos are not necessarily your vibe, you can always try photographing children a little older - those who, for example, have already completed their first year. Although it still involves responsibility, it is not as high as in the case of infants. On the other hand, a child who is aware of himself and his surroundings can cause some problems during the work. When deciding on this career path, stock up on very large reserves of patience and forbearance, so that you can withstand any humor and excess energy of a toddler. However, a lot depends on the age of your model - working with a several-month-old toddler looks very different from working with several-year-olds. The key to a successful photo session is to make it a several-hour adventure for the child. A properly organized real photo session is sure to be quite an attraction for a little kid.
The most important feature of any children's photographer is his full commitment to his work - without it, taking beautiful photos that show the essence of childhood is impossible. Although the older a child is, the more likely he or she is to cooperate, the youngest ones need to be provided with enough entertainment and stimuli, and given one hundred percent attention during the shooting. The key to success is to interact constantly with the child - an interesting conversation or a moment of play will help him relax and gain some confidence in a new situation.
The easiest way to capture interesting moments that follow naturally is to constantly observe the child and patiently follow him. However, it is important to maintain a proper photographic perspective. The camera should be held at the eye level of the toddler - only in this way can you get natural-looking frames that focus the attention of the person watching them on the little model and show his own world. With your photos, always try to emphasize the unique qualities of the child you are photographing - both physical and those manifested in his character.
How to work with a child during a session?
Before you get straight to shooting, it's a good idea to start the photo shoot without a camera - set aside a few moments to get to know your model and tell him about what you'll be doing that day. You can also show him the equipment you are using or let him take a few pictures. In this way, you will make the child realize that the session is not just a whim of the parents, but also an opportunity to have fun.
The course of the shoot depends on many different factors, but in this field of photography, you can't count on "one hour of shooting and go home" type assignments. Be prepared for the possibility that the whole project will be prolonged even for several hours - as we all know, children can be very unpredictable.
While taking pictures, try to interact with the child as often as possible - involve him in spending time in your company, ask him various things that will allow him to talk about the things he likes. Let him play and explore his surroundings in his own way. Children pose most readily when they are having a great time at the same time. For this reason, try not to tell the toddler what to do and constantly urge him to smile - the chances that he will listen to you are very low. Try to capture the child when he or she is in his or her own element, and capture only natural gestures and movements, and after taking the picture, show it to your model or model's model so they can judge it for themselves. A very simple way to involve someone's kid in the session is to ask them for their own ideas for the photos. This will make them feel important and give them what they themselves actually want. Try to show the natural, spontaneous side of childhood, make children laugh or tease them. By capturing their free-flowing behavior in the frame, you have the best chance for diverse and dynamic effects.
Photographing children outdoors is the perfect opportunity to capture them at their best fun. This is when you can capture the most dynamic and diverse frames. Such photos are easiest to take on a sunny day, when the light is bright enough to allow you to reduce the exposure time accordingly.
Remember, however, that shooting in full sunlight does not always give satisfactory results - the harsh light shining from above is unfortunately not conducive to the aesthetics of the photos. Taking impressive shots of children when they are running or jumping is quite demanding - in order to realize a session in a dynamic, playful atmosphere, you need to get a powerful flash with battery power. Such a device can be taken with you anywhere, regardless of whether the shooting takes place on the beach or in a field of rapeseed. The strong light of the flash will allow you not only to freeze the movement in the photo, but also to equalize the exposure so that both the toddler and his background are correctly exposed.
Photos of children taken in their home will have a slightly different feel than those taken outdoors. It is in this environment that you can count on more casual photos - a little toddler feels most secure in familiar surroundings that remind him of his parents. During such sessions, you don't need to focus so much on interacting with the baby, as he will be sufficiently preoccupied with what he can take care of on his own. However, don't be a mere observer keeping a distance - even when the toddler is busy with his favorite toy, try to draw his attention to yourself, if only to turn his face in your direction.
Photos from your home sessions should be fully thought out - a conscious approach to photography will help you capture beautiful frames. Try to keep a low perspective, at the child's eye level, and pay attention to the background you see framed. If there are unwanted elements on it, rearrange them or crop the photo so that they are not clearly visible and do not distract from the portrait of the toddler.
You can use natural lighting during home photo shoots, but it's a good idea to have a solution at hand that you can use to help when that light is scarce. Reporter lights are perfect for situations where you don't have a lot of space - they are extremely light and compact, so you can set them up anywhere. These devices work wirelessly, so when it comes to moving them to another point in the room, you'll do it quickly and seamlessly, without cables dragging across the floor.
Children's photography is a field that can only be handled by people who love children, with the right attitude and high reserves of patience and ingenuity. Working with the youngest, unfortunately, is not one of the easiest things - children are just children, and it must be taken into account that during the session there may be outbursts of despair, screaming or even crying. Young children are very easy to frighten and put you in a sense of entrapment, especially if you use a lot of, professional equipment. That's why it's so important to create a friendly atmosphere for them on the set, prompting them to spend time playing - only in this way will you be able to capture delightful shots, exuding the natural energy of a young child.