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Everyone loves taking pictures of their kids or having pictures done of their kids. If you are taking portraits of kids for yourself or for others, there are some tips and ideas we have found helpful concerning how to photograph kids.
Child photography tips and ideas will help us get better images of kids. Posing tips for kids, portrait lighting ideas, techniques for action photography, equipment choices, and other child photography ideas give us the tools to capture excellent images.
Start With Familiarity
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As with most attempts at portraiture, making really good portraits of kids requires a little bit of knowledge, or familiarity, of our photographic equipment, the basic rules and methods of good photography, and of our subject.
General child photography ideas and tips are similar to our other photographic endeavors. Being very familiar with the controls and features of our camera and other gear is vital. How can we expect to fully know how to photograph kids well if we’re still unsure of what exposure or focus mode to use to achieve particular results?
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Thankfully, it’s not hard to learn how to use the modes and features of our gear. All it really takes is a little time and practice. If the kids are your own kids, use them as willing and fun subjects while getting familiar with your camera, lens, flash, portable lighting, filters, and other neat stuff.
Taking portraits of kids for other people is going to feel a little bit different than with your own children. Taking a little time to get familiar with your young subjects will pay off big time with great results. If you don’t already know them, chat with them and their parents. Be friendly and warm, holding the camera up for them to see.
If the kid is comfortable with you, the poses and expressions are going to be more natural and relaxed. They will also be more open to taking direction from you about changing position and expressions. All of this will result in better portraits of kids.
Portrait Lighting for Kids
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Once again, the same portrait lighting tips for adults will mostly cross over to taking portraits of kids. The one thing I like to do is to keep it as natural appearing as possible. So, this pretty much eliminates the dramatic lighting configurations such as Rembrandt lighting and other techniques such low key effects.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever take portraits of kids with these techniques and configurations. You may have a certain look or style that will mesh well with the intended subject. Personally, I love Rembrandt lighting and other similar styles on a wide variety of subjects, even pets, but speaking for general kids pics, natural seems to work best most of the time.
In the studio or in the field, I have come to value lightweight, cordless, simple lighting gear for portraits of kids. Portraits of children often involve a lot more movement than portrait sessions with adults. So, lightweight and portable are key factors for portrait lighting gear.
A light I have been extremely pleased with since it was first introduced on Kickstarter is the Hakutatz LED light that is battery powered and can be controlled by my smartphone. The Hakutatz LED light is very lightweight, has excellent control functions, and emits clean, high-quality light.
Environmental Portraits of Kids
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An excellent way to get a natural look for portraits is to shoot in an environment that is not your studio. Especially with kids, there’s just something about a studio set up that stiffens them up.
A local park or playground, a baseball or football field, a flower garden, or their own backyard are fantastic spots to take environmental portraits of kids. Inside their own home is another option, valuable to consider during bad weather.
The spot you’re using for the pics should be either the kid is very familiar with or that makes them feel comfortable and relaxed. Some of my favorite spots are neighborhood parks that tend to have multiple features, such as flowers, trees, grassy areas, and playground equipment.
Posing Tips for Kids
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Speak to the child using their first name, or whatever name is the one their parents and friends call them by. For younger children, this allows you to capture their attention, even if only fleetingly, so you get them to interact with you and the camera. With older children, it can make them feel more comfortable with you pointing a camera at them.
Concentrate on simple poses, allowing them to move in and of different positions, poses, and facial expressions. Tone of voice is important when directing them - a kind, upbeat manner goes a long way towards ensuring good results.
Especially with younger kids, props can be a great help. This gives them something to do so they won’t feel or act too self-conscious about being photographed.
Camera Position is Key
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You may have seen this or heard it many times, but you really do need to be on the same level as the kid for good portraits of kids. Otherwise, even if you light it perfectly, it will still remind people of the snapshots they already have on their smartphones. The kid looking up may be a familiar view, but that same kid looking straight at the camera without craning their neck is a very nice view.
How old the kid is, their personality, and even the parent’s demeanor can all affect the final results of your child portrait session. Using these tips and ideas should get you more usable images for portraits with your own kids or for portraits of other people’s children.
Have fun with it, relax, be familiar with the young subject, and you will get good portraits of kids.