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Whether you’re a beginner or experienced photographer, and have kids, you’ve probably experienced the chaos that often ensues when many parents are trying to photograph their children during a school event, athletic competition, etc. You’ll reduce the stress and hassle of this melee and bring home great pictures of your kids if you try the tips in this PhotographyTalk article.
Even if you’re a casual photographer, then you can take a tip from the professionals and do some advanced planning to ensure you’ll find a good position from which to capture images of your children’s participation. If it’s a school play or other kind of presentation, then ask the school a few days prior from what locations you are allowed to shoot. As a parent who demonstrates a bit of forethought, you may be surprised to receive permission to shoot from positions that other parents haven’t considered and won’t be able to access once the activity begins. If you have the time, then scout the location to determine the best place to sit or stand to see and photograph your child, with a minimum of interference.
If your child’s activity is likely to attract quite a crowd, then try to keep your photography equipment to a minimum. Bring one camera body and the appropriate lens based on the positions from where you expect to shoot. If you know there will be a great distance between you and your child, then you’ll want a telephoto or telephoto zoom lens. You’re more likely to choose the right lens if you scout the location in advance and view how tightly you can frame a person on a stage or a playing field. If you will be able to stand much closer to where your child will be, then a smaller zoom lens, such as 24–70mm or 24–105mm, may be all you need. This lens will be smaller and lighter.
If your child’s activity is inside, then you may not be allowed to use a flash, another reason to check with the school or the activity sponsor in advance. If you must shoot with the ambient light, then spend some time reading and studying some of the PhotographyTalk articles about producing good images without an artificial light source. In most cases, you’ll need a shutter speed of a minimum of 1/100th of a second; faster is even better. A good exposure combination may, therefore, a higher ISO setting, even though it may add a bit of digital noise, or graininess, to your images. You can also compensate for a low ambient light level by using a “fast” lens, or one with a very wide aperture opening, expressed in f-stop numbers, such as f/1.2, f/1.4 or f/1.8. Of course, these lenses are among the most expensive, so an alternative if you want to produce some excellent images is to consider renting a faster lens just for that day. Rental rates are quite affordable and you’ll be able to bring home pictures that most other parents can’t.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the midst of a “feeding frenzy” of parents desperate to take pictures of their kids with compact cameras and camera phones held high above their heads. Most of them will also try to photograph their kids at the same time. Of course, they didn’t have the benefit of reading this PhotographyTalk article first. Wait the few minutes during which virtually all the other parents will be tripping their shutters, and then be ready for a much clearer field of view once they’ve stopped. Confrontations between parents about taking pictures of their children are stupid and, well, childish.
You don’t want to be one of the many parents that will try to photograph their kids from their seats or with cameras over their heads. If you’re able to gain access to more advantageous positions because you checked with the school in advance, then remember the best position from which to photograph your children is at their level. Bring the camera to their eye level by kneeling or even sitting on the floor.
With what you learn from this PhotographyTalk article, consider also taking pictures of friends’ and neighbors’ kids who are participating in the event or activity with your children. Share those pictures with your friends and neighbors, who will definitely want copies since they are apt to be better than what they shot. You may not be able to charge them for those pictures, but you will gain a reputation as being a better photographer, which could lead to any number of opportunities.
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