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Whenever you search and find digital photography information about how to photograph children, the primary suggestions are to shoot at their level and move closer. Those tips are even included in the two-part PhotographyTalk.com article, Baby Photography—How to Capture the Early Life of Your Bundle of Joy, Part 1 and Part 2. They are still very important techniques to advance beyond the standard family pictures of children far below the level of the camera. This PhotographyTalk.com article presents a few refinements of those tips that will help you take even more captivating pictures of your children.
On Their Level
It’s worthwhile reviewing this technique and the reason you should be using it. An idea that may not have occurred to you is that when children are able to look directly into your camera, they gain a certain amount of empowerment and added individuality. Your pictures assume more of the qualities of a portrait instead of mere snapshots. When you kneel to their level, talk with your kids to elicit smiles and other excellent facial expressions. Once they are thoroughly focused on you, then you can raise the camera to your eye and record those expressions.
Don’t forget to try various angles and focal lengths of a wide-angle or telephoto lens. In fact, a telephoto is the best choice because you won’t have to thrust a wide-angle or normal lens so close to their faces. Certainly try the wide-angle, if they remain engaged, as it will provide you with many interesting images you couldn’t otherwise capture. Then, utilize these tips to make the on-their-level technique work even better.
One of those different angles is to move 45 to 90 degrees to either side of a direct angle, so the child must look over his or her shoulder at you. This is another pleasing portrait composition. It may also cause him or her to grab a different toy or present you with a priceless expression. A fast 50mm lens is an excellent choice in this situation. Similar to a wide-angle, a fast 50mm lens will have an angle wide enough to include some of the child’s body in the picture. The fast lens will also have wider aperture settings, so you can shoot well-lit digital photos without the need for a flash unit, which could upset or distract the child.
Kneeling may not be low enough if your child is an infant or toddler; you may have to lie completely prone on the floor. This is another wonderful angle, however, that provides unique opportunities to record exactly what your child is doing, the toy that has captured his or her attention or that bit of drool connecting the lower lip to the carpet. Again, use a wide aperture, so some of the foreground will not be in focus, which helps to emphasize your subject.
The opposite of shooting at your children’s level is photographing from a position above your standing eye level. Often, you can record very interesting photos of your children’s activities, including the more mundane, such as meals, naps and baths, if you use a small stepladder or stool. You may be further from your subject, but this is a good opportunity to try a wide-angle lens or the widest angle of the lens you are using. Your photos will not only include the child, but also the entire environment of their activities.
Shooting your children reflected in a mirror or other shiny surface is a clever method to catch them unaware; your camera won’t be as intrusive. You can also compose interesting co-portraits with yourself and your child. Attach your camera to a tripod and, in auto-focus mode, set the focus to the closest subject, and then take your eye from the camera and position yourself. A shutter-release cable to remote triggering device will be helpful.
Like “shoot on their level,” moving closer to your subject (almost any subject, actually) lets you fill the frame with your children’s faces. You can also use a macro lens or close-up adapter to capture individual features of their faces. This is of particular value when shooting infants. On a compact, or point-and-shoot, camera, select the flower icon, which will cause the camera to focus as close as possible.
Although being closer to the primary subject/object in any digital photo is a fundamental shooting tip, there are also a number of wonderful images to take of your kids when you shoot from a much further distance. These include a small child chasing a ball or balloon across a broad, green lawn with no other objects in the frame or a child sitting in a big field of flowers, with his or her head just above the flowers.
As you begin to utilize these tips when photographing your children, your pictures will also begin to improve because you are making conscious decisions about what and how you will shoot instead of just snapping the shutter randomly.