Your toughest client to photograph will inevitably be the toddler, whether its your own or someone else’s. Most of your photos will be of the back of his head as he runs away from the camera, or a shot of her palm as she grabs your lens. In fact, I know a few reasons why a toddler is never used as a model at any photo workshop.
Here’s how to photograph children and babies with grace, style, and plenty of patience to spare:
- Time of day is important. Take pictures at a time of day that the child is happy. It takes significant amounts of bribing and parental threats to get cooperation otherwise.
- Take a few minutes to get to know the child before you start taking pictures. Some children will do best if they become your friend and you talk to them while you take pictures. Others will shut down if they even think you’re looking at them. Figure this out and match your approach to the child.
- If you want pictures of children looking at the camera, put something visually interesting on your head. You may feel like an idiot, but it works.
- Speaking of feeling like an idiot, most children like when you act silly. It elicits great facial expressions and smiles for the pictures. Photographing children is not a time to care about being cool. Don’t worry; their parents have had their embarrassing, silly moments too, so they’re not likely to judge you.
- Take snapshots when the child isn’t looking. My favorite pictures were taken when the child was just playing and I quietly snapped away. For the best results, find a play area with pretty consistent lighting. And always have your camera ready. You never know when something sweet or amusing may happen! Check out these other ideas for children’s portraits.
- Use a prop – and make it one you don’t mind having in the picture. This will keep the child engaged. Get inspired with these 10 ideas for children’s photography props.
- When posing, give the child something to stand or sit on – anything from a stool to a sticker. They do better if they have a “place.”
- To prop up an infant, try a couch or chair corner, bean bag or pillow. Every infant is willing to do different things – what worked for one won’t necessarily work for others so be prepared with different options.
- Use a higher shutter speed with toddlers. Most of them never stop moving. Photographing a child can be like photographing a sport – you’ll pretty much always be freezing action.
- Tell Mom or any other “helpers” to stand right behind you so when children look at them they’ll be looking towards the camera.