What I have learned in the last year about taking pictures of Children

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While going through folders and organizing my photos, I came across this series of L.
If I’m going to get a smile from her, she makes me work for it.
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I’m a rather slow learner, but what I have seen with this beautiful little blond has held true for every other child in front of my lens. Are you ready for my list?

  • Don’t tell a child to say “cheese.” It is apparent in the picture that the child is saying, “cheeeeeeeese.” Go for natural expressions.
  • Make sure to have snacks and drinks on hand. If the child is hungry or thirsty, it is worth stopping for the few minutes it will take to get their blood sugar back up.
  • I always bring a small treat for them to have when we are finished shooting. I let them know in the beginning that I have a surprise for them at the end. It can be a sparkly wand, bubbles, a fun bracelet…you get the idea.
  • Have props. Whether you bring them or they are provided by the parent, have something to distract and redirect attention.
  • Plan for at least 2 hours. It all depends on wardrobe changes and expectations for what shots the parent wants.
  • Patience is a non-negotiable. Little ones are extremely intuitive. The moment they sense frustration, they respond in a similar manner.
  • If possible have the mother out of sight for the first 20 or so minutes. Talk to the child about what they are looking forward to (i.e. Christmas, Hanukkah, Birthday, Summer, etc.) Let them play around the room, in their environment, while not paying attention to the camera. Take some shots and then let the child see them. They LOVE to see pictures of themselves. The following shots are of L playing hide and seek.

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Where these probably aren’t pictures her mom will frame, they allowed me the play time I needed with her to capture moments that her mom will want to frame. Like these…
IMG_0774 IMG_0666IMG_0732IMG_0673 IMG_0825There is much to learn. I certainly am no expert. I could pick apart each one of these photos and tell you what I would change from lighting to composition, but it’s not about perfection. It’s about progress. I like reading other photographers tutorials and tips, so I thought I would share what I have found to be tried and true.

Here are some of my favorite holiday faces from the last month.

Whether you are a professional photog or someone who enjoys capturing moments, what is one thing you would say to the eager beginner?

Speak freely and kindly...

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