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A Few Thoughts About Photographing Children

Over the past few years, much of my photography has been children. I know that many of you enjoy photographing children too, and I thought I would share a few things that have helped me along the way.
1. Know your camera. Know how to get a proper exposure, and what to watch for in the light. With children, you simply do not have the time to figure things like that out on the fly.

2. Whenever possible, avoid traditional poses and the word "cheese!" Since I had worked at a Wal-Mart portrait studio for a year before I started taking pictures on my own, this is something that was really challenging for me. My images drastically improved when I finally let go of the traditional, strict poses and smiling that I had become accustomed to. All of the photos shown were taken as the children were doing what they wanted to.

3. If you are photographing an older child, make casual conversation with him. Ask him about his interest, favorite t.v. characters, girlfriends, etc. This little man and I were discussing his upcoming rodeo competitions when I took this photo of him. I love the look in his eyes and the sweet, casual smile.

4. When you do close-up shots in particular, use the rule of thirds. When you keep the eyes in the top third, it makes them the focal point of the image. It's also a good idea to make sure that the subject has nice catchlights (light in their eyes), and definitely make sure that the eyes are in sharp focus.

5. This one last tip may surprise you: Back up! I absolutely love close-up shots of sweet little faces, but I find that it is really easy for me to end up with a whole session of close-ups! While they are fun, the sometimes can't tell the whole story. I love the story that this last image tells. This little girl was simply enjoying being little! She was dressed up in her favorite "princess skirt," Levi jacket, and pink cowgirl boots, wandering a park and picking flowers (dandelions) for her mommy.

If I had made this a close-up shot, we would have missed the whole story! We wouldn't have seen her clothing selections, the lovely park where she was playing, or the flowers in her sweet little hands.

I hope that you found these thoughts helpful, and I would love to hear any ideas that you have for photographing children!


Eileen said...

Awesome tips.

Question: How did you not have a shadow under the boys cowboy hat? That's always a problem for me. Did you use a direct flash?

Sarah said...

THANK YOU! Very Helpful! :) Keep it up w/ the great tips! :)

Kayce said...

Thank you for these fantasic tips! I seriously love your blog. It gives me such great ideas for all my shoots.

Gaspegirl said...

I always love and appreciate your tips... I have none to add as I am JSO.

Make it a great day!

Erin said...

Love the rule of thirds tip and the idea about taking step back. Thanks for the awesome ideas!

Staci B said...

SO true! I was just taking photos of my son (practicing!) and saying the same thing to myself, it is so darn hard to remember everything, they are not going to sit and wait! Certainly has helped me think, and set before I ask him to come over...still working on exposure though...thought I had it yesterday...and some were obviously blown.

sunshinesls said...

Great tips....Thank you! Really good pictures!

Jess said...

thanks for the tips! I really need to remember the back up back up back up

Wendy said...

Hi Alexis!
You always are on the look out for all of us! Trying to make us all better photographers! Thanks for your time that you spend and for sharing your knowledge! I love to look at your pictures, you really focus on the individual!
That is sooo like you!
Take care and thanks for sharin!

The Little Clark Family said...

I love reading your tips. I was also wondering if you were teaching any classes at Bridgerland anymore or if your business is doing as well as you like! I still have my blog from class I don't know how else to get a hold of you.

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering how you manage to take pictures without people getting angry at you? I'm a new photographer, and I was taking pictures in the park today and a woman confronted me as if I was a criminal; it was actually quite upsetting.