What’s the most challenging photo shoot? It’s not having bad lighting, searching for the perfect background or getting everything posed just right without being stilted. Nope. The most challenging photo shoot is getting great pictures of kids!
We all love getting those beautiful shots of a kid at play, or capturing that precious smile unexpectedly. Some kids love to pose and have their picture taken, but sooner than later, you’re bound to deal with a child who’s Just. Not. Having. It.
Try these tips next time you have a skirmy child as your photo subject, especially if you’re using your smartphone:
Remember the basics: Hungry, tired kids aren’t going to smile. Take photos early in the day, or right after a meal or snack. Outdoor light is great early in the morning and just before dusk, too, and good lighting does help make a great picture.
On your phone, use the native camera app. Why? Because it can be accessed immediately by just swiping on the lock screen, so you’ll never miss the most spontaneous moments.
Set your camera or smartphone to burst—take multiple photos with each snap. On an iPhone, just hold down the shutter button to take multiple shots. Some Android devices offer a burst mode, but if yours doesn’t, try the app Fast Burst Camera Lite (free for Android). Just remember to go back and delete the photos you don’t like, so lots of pouty, eyes-closed pics don’t fill up your phone or memory card.
Catch kids in action. Some of the best photos come when they have no idea you’re watching. If they’ve got on a bright shirt, and the lighting is good? See what your zoom can do for you from several feet away on the playground, without attracting their attention.
Young kids won’t pay attention? Ask their name, or how old they are, or other favorite questions just to get them to glance your way. Be ready with your shutter finger!
Make sure the kid is the focal point of the picture. Busy backgrounds or lots of other things going on distract from the cuteness. You don’t have to center your child in the frame, though. Lots of great photos have the subject a bit to the left or right of center.
If you’re dealing with a kid who just won’t smile, try really silly jokes. Perhaps, “OK, say ‘Purple People Eaters!’” instead of, “Say, ‘Cheese!’” We also like saying, “Smile, Bob!” (to a child who’s not named Bob, of course). With the right age kid, these silly comments can lead to lots of photogenic giggles.
Look for shots that capture the sense of your kids, not just their public face. Catch them when they’re pensive, or when they’re concentrating hard on a task.
Most of all, remove the stress. Kids who feel pressured to perform may do so (or melt down), but you won’t get the best photos if they’re trying to please you. Let them be themselves, and capture the fleeting moments by being a great observer.