BlogPhotographyTechnique

Photographing Children – Lesson 1: Bend

Sabine and Jenn
click on the picture to see a larger one on Flickr

A lot of people don’t know that I actually cut a lot of chops doing children’s pictures. This was one of my favorite things to do- i’m a big fan of kids. This was odd to parents, seeing as they were handing their children to a guy wearing boots, a bandanna, goatee, and earrings.

You’d be surprised at all of the skills that are needed to be able to make a great shot of a child. Those skills translate to many different types of portrait shoots, and the lessons that you can take from them can apply to so many scenarios. Let’s talk about one now: The ability to bend.

Keep Them Going Up Up Up
If you are doing a shoot for yourself – keep in mind that there are very few circumstances where you will see more than one or two pictures from that shoot. Some of the best photographers out there will only show one or two pictures from a shoot from a portfolio point of view. This has a lot to do with our inability to suspend judgement on things. If you put two pictures of a shoot back to back in a series, we will automatically think to ourself “Which one was better, A or B”. When we do that, we are automatically making one of them “Not the best” and one “The Best” of the group. Compound that to a series of pictures in a portfolio, and now you have a bunch of “Not Best” images in your portfolio. This can sabotage the intended feeling you want a user to have when taking a look at your images. When a person is looking at your portfolio, you want their feelings to go up, and stay up. More than one image in a series makes it more like a rollercoaster (Obviously, there are exceptions to this.. but by in large its the practice I think works).

Be Willing to Bend
When you realize that what you are doing here is trying to get the “shot” and not the “shots” you tend to become a little more relaxed about the shoot, and allow yourself to bend a little. Take this for example.. I wanted a shot of my daughter Sabine and my wife Jenn. This was done at 5PM on a Saturday. For us, 5PM is right about the time Sabine can get cranky – she must eat. I wasnt planning on doing a Photo shoot – I was walking into a studio to get a tripod.. but with all the lights setup, I said what the hey.

Pinnacle moment. Do I stop her from eating her lunch, risk getting her ticked off, and miss a shot opportunity? Or, do I wait – let her eat.. and shoot less frames because time was at a minimum.

Secret Weapons
click on the picture to see a larger one on Flickr

I made a couple of frames on studio, and in between them, she just kept munching away. This kept her happy, and unaware of the lights around her. With her relaxed, I was able to work with Jenn to setup a great shot. There are about 4 or 5 that I was happy with.. but so long as one came up, i’m a happy man.

5 comments

  1. Like the editing down to best idea. Also like the part about relaxing. I would add this. Once you get “the” shot stop shooting. Relax, you’ve got it. Over time you’ll find out what they feels like if you don’t know already. Takes time but it is intuitive.

  2. I still looking for this:

    “Make sure you tune in on Tuesday for Part III of the series: “It’s OK to Buy Style””

  3. Can’t wait to get your HDR book. I plan on ordiering your and Matts new book at the same time when his comes out from kelby training. Keep up to good work on D-town. Im pretty new to photography and have learned a gread deal from all you guys from kelby training.

  4. Interesting thoughts RÇ and great pics as usual! Funny, I pretty much did the same thing on Saturday at about the same time!

    Grabbed the boys in the “studio” for some high key work.

    http://kinophotography.com.au/2011/08/15/kira-and-noah-in-high-key/

    And I totally hear you when you talk about comparing multiple images from the same shoot. Awesome food for thought.

  5. Good article! RC, as someone who has a kid and trying to get better into lighting, I’d love to see your lighting setup from this. I’m going to assume you use simple rather than complex stuff.

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