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How To Photograph Children

Mike Browne is sharing his tips on photographing children this week.

|  Portraits and People
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Article by Mike Browne from PhotographyCourses.Biz

Mike BrowneWe all want great photos of our children growing up and with digital it’s so easy to create a photo record of them as they grow. Because I’m getting a bit old and need the wrinkles ironing these days I really notice that there’s only about seven or eight pictures of my brother and I from way back when we were small.

Photographing children presents its own special set of challenges, especially when they’re little and unlikely to pose nicely for you. In this tip I’m going to concentrate on how to go about capturing their spirit, fun, naughtiness and love - which you can’t do unless you allow them to be themselves.

Child with a camera

Which lens?

There’s no right or wrong lens for photographing children, but I suggest you choose a focal length and stick with it for a while, taking shots that work for that length. Once you’ve got some images you’re happy with in the bag, change to a different focal length and shoot images that work for the new chosen length. If you don’t know what I mean the focal length video on our site will explain all.

Let’s begin with longer focal lengths like 150mm to 200mm or more. Think about how these focal lengths make things look for a moment. They give you a narrower field of view so it’s easy to isolate your kids from their surroundings and when you use a wide aperture like f/5.6 with one, you get a shallow depth of field so the background is blurry as in these images.

Three child portraits

Don’t keep zooming in and out. Practice keeping the lens long and move yourself closer or further away so you can still keep that lovely ‘narrow field of view / blurry background’ look. If you want your children to be smaller in the image you might have to be a long way away from them as I was when I shot this image with the zoom at 200mm.

Taken with a 200mm zoom lens

Short focal lengths (known as wide) of up to 20mm will include more of the surroundings, have a greater depth of field and a feeling of intimacy with your child - like this.

Portrait taken on a short focal length

Be careful with short focal length lenses because they can stretch and distort. Don’t try getting too close. And I say again. If you’re always changing lenses according to what your kids are doing you’ll keep missing the moment, so stick with one at a time.

Which Location?

Go somewhere your children will be engaged and interested in their surroundings, and do it at a time when they’re going to be wide awake.

What about light?

A lightly overcast day is best because there are no strong shadows. If this isn’t possible get something interesting set up for the child somewhere in a big patch of open shade.

Don’t forget details

A close up of little hands and feet can tell a great story – and they won’t be little for long!

Child's hands and feet

Allow plenty of time and don’t get distracted

You can’t expect small children to perform on demand. Some will, some won’t, but mostly they do the un-expected. Be patient and always keep the camera on your kids with a shot composed and focused. When they suddenly do something interesting you see it through the viewfinder and you’re ready to press the shutter and capture it.

Child upside down

As you can see, all this takes a bit of preparation. Don’t expect to just buy a camera and it’ll do all the work for you. None of these images were ‘posed’ in the traditional sense. All I did was interact and keep myself ready. The images in this tip are of my step daughter Tasha and her daughter Layla and If you’d like to capture amazing images of your children you can see me shooting them (and many more) and explaining what I’m doing as I do it in our photographing children video.

Happy shooting,


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