“Stand there and smile” – it never works. People will quite often ask me how I manage to get so many natural photos of Daisy so I thought I’d pop them all into a blog post. I photograph children as my job and so overtime I’ve learnt a few tricks that helps me get the perfect shots. It’s all about what I call ‘the in-between’ moments. These are the few seconds here and there when children forget the camera is even present. Over the years I’ve discovered several ‘tactics’ for capturing the in-between moments, and these are what I use during every photoshoot.
Look to the sky
One thing that I find hard sometimes with photographing children is being able to get a lovely close up of their face. They tend to be looking down or moving too fast for me to get the focus purely on their eyes. A new technique I use is to get them to look at the sky – I ask them to spot aeroplanes or birds. I ask them to see if there are any funny shaped clouds in the sky or I ask them to try and find the moon. I usually will stand above them and then whilst they look up I manage to get a great photo of their face. It doesn’t always work, but it usually does for me!
Go for a walk
I always recommend location shoots to my clients. This way there’s no awkwardly standing around in a studio attempting to get the most natural shots possible. Instead we go for a walk and I step back a little – I blend into the background and photograph children enjoying time with their family. We wander about, feed ducks, do lots of jumping, hunt for the biggest stones, throw sticks in the water etc. All little things that will keep them busy and hopefully smiling. It’s important to be on the ball and capture those in-between moments. Sometimes getting that perfect shot means running along at full speed whilst the kids fly past either on their bikes, kicking a ball or even (for older children) on their stunt scooters.
Watch them play
Sometimes the best way to capture them naturally is to step back and watch them from afar. Capture them as they talk to the ducks or wander about in their own little world. The worst thing you can do is ask them to stand and smile – it either doesn’t work or it’ll leave you with a fake and cheesy grin that really doesn’t depict their little (or quite large) personality. This can be done when at home too. Take a photo from the other room or discreetly when they are playing with their toys. If you want them to look at the camera then get the shot ready and call out their name just as you’re ready to snap the photo.
Asking little ones to pull silly faces always gets them laughing. Yes, you’ll end up with a dozen ‘funny face’ shots but you’ll also capture the moments in-between when they are laughing at their own silliness. This also makes the whole process a lot more fun! Believe it or not (pointing out the obvious) – kids find it boring having a camera shoved in their face. The amount of times Daisy will say to me “Mum, I don’t want my photo taken, this is boring.” She’s at the age now where I have to respect that decision and put the camera down! However, if I ask her to pull silly faces, she’ll usually laugh along and enjoy looking back at the photos with me.
Last, but certainly not least – just chat! Ask them how their day was. Ask them who their best friends are. Get the conversation going and then snap the in-between. I will quite often do this with Daisy if she’s not particularly in the right mood for photos. If we talk about ice-cream and holidays and all the fun things she likes to do, it tends to loosen her up a little and she then might crack a smile or two. It’s important to remember that they don’t have to be smiling in every photo! Kids don’t smile all the time, so be real and capture the other moments too. The ones where they are daydreaming, the ones where they are playing and the ones where they are grumpy! Capture it all.
*This is a collaborative post*