Today’s topic is “child photography,” and today I will tell you all about children’s photography techniques, ideas, poses, to some essential tips and tricks. By photographing your child, you give him illustrations for life and form his memories of the past.
Photography is a trendy hobby in our country. Many families have at least one camera, and sometimes several. Everything gets into the frame – people and landscapes, pets and flowers, chamber celebrations, and picnics in nature.
The purpose of photography is by no means always the creation of a brilliant work; more often, it is just sketching for memory, photographs for a home album. And, of course, the natural pearls of the family photo album are photographs of children, captured moments of their lives, photo chronicles of growing up. But unfortunately, these photos are not always of the same quality as we would like.
Therefore, I am addressing this article to mothers who most often take pictures of their children. In an accessible form, I will tell you how, without having expensive photographic equipment, to get beautiful photos of your kids and create an illustrated family history.
I want to say a few words about the pictures taken by a child photographer in a kindergarten or school. Each of us has at least a couple of such fanciful photographs in our home archives. Think for yourself what childhood memories can evoke a picture of an unnaturally smiling five-year-old child with a telephone receiver in his hands or in a baby suit, about which he has probably never heard of? And vice versa, seemingly ugly, old amateur photographs often evoke much more interest and sincere emotions, telling us the story of our childhood.
First, during child photography, it is essential to strive to convey not some extraordinary events, but mostly what he does every day, that is, his daily life.
Secondly, this must be done competently, not only in technical terms but also in conveying the child’s natural state and the purity of his emotions. You know your baby better than anyone else. No uncle from the photo studio will ever reveal the inner world of your child the way you can. Therefore, I advise you to treat photographing your little one as an honorable but serious mission, available only to you.
Why Child Photography is Important for Your Family Album?
You can take pictures of children differently, depending on what you want to get the result. For example, some people photograph their children to get photographs that are a work of photographic art, understandable not only to relatives but also to a wide range of viewers. But for the most part, these pictures tell about something that has never happened and cannot happen in your child’s life.
For example, look at a photograph of a girl sitting by the window and looking sadly at a rainy evening street. Such a composition evokes an autumn mood, but such a picture can be found extremely rarely in real life. It is more likely that she is happy to study the properties of mom’s lipstick or bully her younger brother on such chilly evenings.
The above photograph is an excellent example of creative child photography. As a rule, such pictures have aesthetic value, but more often, they tell about something that has never happened and cannot happen in your child’s life.
The same applies to the photograph shown below, which offers children sitting on an old cross near an abandoned village cemetery and discussing who these ancestors are. Photography is staged from start to finish, and the photograph has some aesthetic value in creative photography. The photographer used children to realize his creative idea, so it would be wrong to consider this installation a photograph of the children themselves.
What happens if we fill our family album with staged, highly artistic photographs? Judge for yourself: I once asked my ten-year-old son what moments he remembers from his childhood. It turned out that all his memories coincide with his childhood photographs in one way or another. Thus, photographing your child, you not only give him illustrations for the life of how he saw a frog for the first time in his life or smeared himself with cottage cheese up to his ears but also form his memories of the past.
Look how good it is when children are not forced to pose. The only thing left for the photographer was to shoot them imperceptibly from afar, and the excellent light and emotionality of the moment emphasized the naturalness of the situation and created a mood.
- By photographing your child, you form childhood memories.
- Excessive staged photography harms the family album.
- You are able to photograph what no professional can do.
When don’t take pictures of children?
- In a hurry.
- Only on holidays.
- Under the condition of insufficient lighting.
- With lean and expressionless faces.
- In contrived situations.
Photography Techniques for Child Photography
I often hear from beginners: “If I have a good camera, then I would get good photos.” At the same time, they forget that the quality of the picture depends on the photographer, and the sophistication of the camera does not play the most crucial role in this process. I assure you that your lovely childhood photos were taken with love by your parents using much worse equipment and the film is better than what you have now.
Trust me; there are no technical problems that limit you in child photography. If you have an amateur camera – shoot with this; if there is an “SLR”, or a digital camera – shoot with them. Of course, you won’t be able to take a close-up picture of a child’s face or zoom in on a distant object using a primary camera, but for a portrait or genre scene with the participation of your child, it is pretty suitable. So I urge you not to waste time looking for excuses but to explore the possibilities of your photography techniques.
Look at this beautiful photograph taken almost twenty years ago on a FED-3 camera with an Industar-61 lens on a black and white photo 65mm film. Please note that the impact of this highly expressive photograph on the viewer is far from its technical quality. When using a film camera, you need to decide on the choice of film. Without further ado, I recommend that you not deprive your children of bright memories and shoot them on color film, and we will leave black and white for advanced photographers.
If you plan to shoot with a digital camera, I would advise you to trust the automatic mode. The sensitivity of the matrix is selected according to the algorithm laid down by the manufacturers. I cannot give any precise recommendations when choosing sensitivity since some cameras already at ISO 200 make a noise like the northern lights. In contrast, others show pretty decent results at ISO 1600. However, the lower the sensitivity value, the less the digital camera makes noise.
• The photograph is taken not by the camera, but by the person.
• For child photography technical quality is secondary.
• For analog cameras it is better to use amateur films of moderate sensitivity.
• When choosing the sensitivity of a digital apparatus, use the “AUTO” mode or be guided by your personal impressions of the “noise” of the matrix.
How to Photograph Children?
Let’s go directly to the methods of shooting. Children can be filmed in different ways; choosing one or another technique depends on the specific situation. For example, you cannot compare shooting a newborn child and a schoolboy on a bicycle, shooting outdoors and indoors. To begin with, let’s dwell on the general recommendations applicable in all cases.
As we have already established, photographing children, we form their future ideas about their childhood. My dear mothers, do you want your child to have a perverse, negative idea of his past? Of course, you won’t wish this to anyone, and photography is called art precisely because you have in your hands not only the camera but all the magical possibilities of creativity.
Let us remember what feelings do photographs of people with joyful or, on the contrary; dissatisfied faces evoke in us? The picture evokes in the viewer precisely those emotions that were written on the depicted face. Therefore, you should not often photograph your child when he is dissatisfied or saddened with something. Moreover, it would help if you did not allow situations when the face does not express any emotions. Calling you to such an emotional construction of photography, I will add the truth for the sake of the fact that thoughtfulness and minor feelings are more inherent in serious photography, and art in general, as evoking empathy.
Look at this photo and make sure that bright, sunny photos taken in good weather usually give rise to pleasant feelings instead of gray and cloudy ones.
Therefore, if you have the opportunity to photograph your child experiencing joyful, surprised, or delighted feelings – do not miss this moment. If you are late with pressing the button, then you can easily and gradually for the child make him pose, laughing him or telling him some good news.
The most impractical technique may be the mention of a bird – any modern child knows that the bird in the camera “died long ago” and will not fly out anywhere. It is much more practical to lift your index finger and tell your know-it-all that the lens will fly out of the camera now.
It is also unwise practice to mention cheese. In my experience, the mention of this fermented milk product leads to a corresponding fermented smile. Besides, a smile and a happy expression are two significant differences.
Besides smiles, there are other ways to make your photo light and joyful. Before talking about them, I would like to note that a good photograph is harmonious as a whole. Therefore, if you are upset or scared by something, the little one is depicted against a bright background, then the picture will cause bewilderment and sympathy. Examples of such photographs are pictures of a frightened child holding a monkey or a boa constrictor, taken in a circus or zoo.
Everyone is happy with the portrait of a girl taken by a professional photographer, except for one thing – the child’s face does not express any emotions. A photograph of a boy in a bathtub, of poor quality and ineptly made by a simple amateur photographer, nevertheless looks much more expressive since it gives rise to feelings in the viewer that correspond to the emotions on this baby’s face. Therefore, do not miss the opportunity to photograph your child experiencing joyful, surprised, or delighted feelings.
One of the artificial tricks for creating a photo with a good mood is to use the peculiarities of color perception. As you know, colors are divided into warm and cold. Warm colors include red, orange, yellow, and cold colors, including dark blue, blue, and purple. Green can be either warm or cold. Objects painted in warm colors in the photograph seem to be located closer than they are and attract the viewer; cold ones repel.
Yellow visually creates a joyful mood. At the same time, my dear mothers, take a look around right now, do you see a lot of bright yellow objects? As you can see, not that much. Therefore, let this color be present in your photo: against the background, in the form of a toy in the hands of a baby (you can buy it on Amazon – See it here), and even better – on clothes.
In the latter case, the calm background tone itself will “push” your child forward, thanks to the properties mentioned above. By applying this technique, you will not only get a photo of positive energy but also competently solve the problem of compositional construction of color spots, separating your child, the main subject of photography, from the background.
Bright, sunny photos usually give the viewer a pleasant feeling instead of gray and cloudy ones. Therefore, the weather when taking a picture of your baby will significantly affect the photo’s mood and to a much greater extent than you think.
For more information on how the weather helps shape the atmosphere of a photo, see the section on outdoor photography.
In addition to light and color solutions, there are compositional techniques that affect the perception of photography. Many books have been written on this topic, but we will dwell only on some points that are useful for the topic of our article.
First of all, let’s talk about the height from which it is most advisable to shoot your little one. There are three practical techniques for shooting children – from the top point, from the height of his eyes, and from the bottom point. Using each of them leads to different, but predictable results.
The most common shooting from the height of an adult, that is, as if from top to bottom, while we get an image of how we see our child every day, that is, he himself will look small, and the audience will feel superior. This technique should be used when you want to show how little our dear man is.
A very interesting point of shooting is the position of the camera at the level of the child’s eyes.
I will tell you a secret that in books on photography, this is the technique recommended for children’s professional photography. The fact is that such a perspective gives the photo the effect of a conversation with the baby on an equal footing, allows you to look into the eyes, and most fully reveal his inner world. I will add that if shooting a face, it is better to keep the camera at eye level than when shooting a child up to the waist – at the level of his chin.
Shooting from a low point is used, for example, in cases when your toddler climbed onto a chair and tries to recite poetry, or you are filming a child running through a clearing lying on the grass. In this case, your baby will look big, like Gulliver in the land of the midgets.
I do not recommend using a low point of view often, despite the fact that moms so much want their baby to grow up sooner. Do not rush childhood, it passes so quickly.
Positioning the camera at the level of a child’s eyes often leads to amazing results. The fact is that such an arrangement gives the photo the effect of a conversation with the baby on an equal footing, allows you to look your baby in the eye.
In theory, when shooting portraits of children, the following angles are applicable: the profile, three-quarters (half-face), and full-face. Note that you are not the only one who got bored from listing these terms. In practice, it turns out that staged photographs made according to academic canons look so correct that they do not cause any emotions, so let’s move from theory to practice.
Regardless of which way the child in front of you is looking now, give him room to move his gaze in your future photo. If the baby looks a little to the side, move the camera slightly, leaving more space in front of the baby than behind him. It is good if, at the same time, your pet’s face is at a distance of 1/3 from the side of the frame – this compositional proportion harmonizes the photo.
Here is a rare example of a successful photograph taken from a low point, practically from ground level. Look how big this cheerful little boy looks.
Please note that when photographing a child looking to the side, the direction of his gaze – to the right or the left is essential. If the baby looks to the right in the picture, then he evokes the feeling of looking forward, into the future, in the opposite case – looking back, as it were, into the past.
I will very briefly mention the diagonals. Suppose your frame contains oblique lines that form fragments of diagonals, then from the point of view of the psychology of visual perception. In that case, they will be perceived as follows: diagonals directed from the lower-left corner to the upper right corner, called “ascending”, are perceived by the viewer as positive, optimistic, and from the upper left to the lower right corner, “descending”, give the impression of completing the compositional development, pessimistic.
So, when photographing your child sitting on the bed or playing in the street, you can always find this angle by going to the right or left, in order to maintain a positive atmosphere of the frame using “ascending” lines.
When shooting paired portraits, a technique is often used when one person slightly obstructs the other, for example, with a shoulder. Look at this photo – these two are inseparable. I would also like to draw your attention to the dynamic ascending diagonal formed by the toy, the baby’s hand, and the faces of the people depicted in the photograph.
- Photography evokes the emotions that are captured on the face of the child.
- Seize the moment or have your child pose for themselves.
- A formal smile can only evoke formal feelings.
- A good photograph is a harmonious photograph.
- Yellow and sunlight evoke positive emotions.
- The height of the shooting point shows our attitude towards the child.
- There should be plenty of space in front of the child looking to the side.
- Looking or turning the head to the right makes it feel like the child is looking ahead into the future.
- Ascending diagonals are more optimistic than descending diagonals.
Taking Photographs of Children
Successfully caught the moment, natural soft light from the window, uniform color scheme, compositionally necessary crib elements in the foreground – all this harmoniously combines, creating a wonderful illustration of one of the moments of this baby’s life.
The most common images of children in a family album are photographs of their first year of life. This is understandable: parents cannot stop looking at their babies, mothers, as a rule, do not work, and in the pauses between feeding, washing diapers, and reading romance novels, they have time to photograph.
First, when photographing newborn babies, be sure to photograph the various “work moments” of their lives. Filling the entire album with pictures of a baby wrapped in diapers and peacefully snoring is not a tricky business.
Much more interesting will be the footage of feeding, changing clothes, weighing, playing. I recommend genre photography rather than portrait photography for the following reasons:
- A portrait is, first of all, the character of a person, and the face of a newborn is not yet expressive enough.
- During this period of life, the newborn is still completely dependent on the mother, and it would be unnatural to show him in isolation from her.
Since your baby is still very small, then you need to put something in the frame with which you can compare its size. Most amateur photographs of newborns suffer from this very shortcoming – from them, it is impossible to determine the size of the child itself.
An adult holding a baby in his hands will just be a natural object for comparison. And, finally, the most important thing – such photos will remind your child all his life that you are not just his close relative, but a person thanks to whose care he lives in the world. Of course, with such filming, you will definitely need the help of relatives. A husband or your parents are most suitable for this purpose.
Speaking of lighting, in this case, natural diffused light from a window will be most preferable. You yourself, with your baby, can sit in a chair one and a half meters from the window, and it is better for the person photographing you to stand next to the window, but not block it, but to be located to the right or left of it. I recommend using the built-in flash only in exceptional cases, however, we will talk about this in detail in the section on shooting indoors.
Many children enjoy the process of eating since this is the only opportunity to get dirty in it. Look at this adorable little girl. Also, notice how the yellow spot in the foreground creates a fun vibe for this shot.
The most advantageous compositional solution will be that in which the baby and mother are a single and indivisible circle. And despite the fact that relatives are pressing the button, it is you who have to think over how the frame will look – no relatives will do it for you.
The portfolio of a child under one year old necessarily includes very funny photos of babies laid out on the tummy on the changing table and looking at you in surprise. At the same time, never leave a newborn model on the table unattended, and secondly, position yourself so that the light from the window shines from behind and slightly to the side of you, and not in front.
Do not forget to remove foreign objects from the changing table so as not to disturb the background of the photo. But the bottles for feeding, a package of diapers, and a bottle of dill water, on the contrary, should be left.
When shooting, feel free to focus on your eyes – in a camera this means placing the center of the frame in the area of the child’s eyes. For those who are technically allowed, set the aperture to a small value (f/4.0 is good, f/3.2 is even better) – this will achieve a soft, blurry background. You can also use the portrait mode – with it, the aperture value is always the minimum.
The optimal shooting of babies – from the height of the toddler’s eyes. Do not forget about the basic rule – catch the most suitable moment, do not click everything: the difference between a mediocre and a great shot is a couple of moments.
When filming a baby sleeping or just lying in a crib, I recommend that you sit down (shooting at the level of his eyes), while making sure that the sharpness is focused on the child’s eyes, and not on the crib bars.
In general, when shooting small children, every little thing matters. For example, pay attention to his clothes, whether there are any stains of indecent origin on them so that later you will not blush for the sloppy appearance of your model for the rest of your life.
With the growth of the baby, there are more and more subjects for shooting. Favorite toys appear, the first tooth finally grows, the child sits first in the pillows, and then on his own, learns to get up in the crib, then takes his first steps. All of these are milestones of growing up, worthy of being captured in your photographs (so that you don’t forget anything later, immediately sign the date of shooting with a simple pencil on the back of the card).
What should you pay special attention to? By this time, the baby already knows how to enjoy life, and the task of the photographer is to create a complacent mood in him, at least for the duration of the photo session.
It is very interesting to imperceptibly shoot the manifestation of children’s curiosity, when the baby, for example, enthusiastically crawls on all fours on the floor, meticulously examining his living space.
If your toddler has already learned to stand but is still unsure of it, then it is good practice to photograph him with a crib or high chair, to which the baby is holding on to his hand – this is a safe way to show the growth of the child in comparison. Subsequently, you will be able to confidently prove to your idiot that you knew how to take pictures correctly when he was still “walking under the table”.
When photographing in the interior, keep in mind that not only your baby will get into the frame, but also the surrounding environment, which in decades will arouse the interest of your descendants in how their ancestors lived “at the beginning of the century.”
Unlike newborns, one-year-old babies look very funny while feeding – instead of taking food internally, they really like to smear themselves in it. The point is not even that the skills of their handling of such a complex technical device as a spoon are still imperfect – they simply enjoy the process itself. Soon they will learn how to eat properly, and today capture these unique, awkward moments, and do not be shy about the grimy-looking baby – your baby is simply adorable.
All other aspects of photographing toddlers of this age are no different from photographing older children, and we will talk about them in the upcoming article.
The girl depicted in this photograph looks to the right, which hints at the further development of the scene. It can be seen that the cunning man has decided to do something interesting, and will do it right now.
- Each infant has its own, interesting daily life to photograph.
- Seize the moment.
- The newborn is inseparable from the mother, even in photography.
- The best lighting is from the window.
- Use the built-in flash only in exceptional cases.
- When taking pictures of newborns, frame something to scale.
- Do not forget to think over the background and remove “photographic debris” from the frame.
- Choose clean clothes in bright colors.
- When shooting a face, focus on your baby’s eyes and shoot from the height of his eyes.
- When photographing babies on an elevated position, be aware of safety precautions.