7. Work fast. Use a fast shutter speed and shoot fast, too. Even kids who are sugared-up bundles of energy tend to move fairly quickly. A faster-than-normal shutter speed (say a 250th or more) will ensure you don’t have much motion blur, and a faster-than-normal frame rate maximize your chances of capturing that one perfect precious moment when all the stars align. And be aware that your subject’s attention span isn’t likely to last as long as your own, so try to finish the shoot before the kid is a crying, crabby mess.
8. Use a shallow depth of field. Fast lenses come in handy for kids, not only because they allow for faster shutter speeds but because they minimize depth of field and isolate the child subject from the out-of-focus background. Long lenses can also help with this. Not only are they the obvious choice for portraits, but the inherently shallower depth of field helps clean and simplify the composition too.
9. Work with natural light. The more natural and airy feeling the image has, the more innocent the message it tends to convey. Not only does light and airy work well for kid portraits, it works wonders for allowing you to move quickly without readjusting shutter speeds and apertures and dragging around lots of lighting gear. If you’re shooting outside—which I highly recommend especially now that the warmer months are here—look for open shade like you might find in a wooded clearing or other open area out of direct sunlight. Public parks, especially ones with a good amount of green space, make for an ideal shooting location.
10. Try a shorter lens. Long lenses always work well for portraits, but cute kids offer a photographic opportunity that grown-ups don’t—you can get close with shorter lenses without making the subject look grotesque. Not only do big eyes look even bigger when a 50mm lens is focused fairly close to a child’s face, their innocence really does come through in the details. After all, what little angel doesn’t have beautiful skin, big bright eyes and the cutest little blemish- and wrinkle-free features you can imagine? Try that with a grown-up portrait and both you and your subject are bound to be horrified.
Bonus Tip 11: Bring a helper. A friend who understands what you’re trying to accomplish goes a long way. Not only can they hold reflectors and help with the lighting—which is crucial when working with natural light and open shade—the helper can wrangle the kids, too. Your assistant is able to step in quickly to reposition a child, or tickle them to elicit a smile, or any number of things that help you get the shot. That second pair of hands and eyes will be extremely handy. But be careful; don’t bring too many helpers. A lot of people can be over stimulating for a child, distracting them from the shoot.
To see more of Brian’s work, visit his web site at littlemomentsstudio.net
« Prev 2/2 Next