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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!