Here are some quick tips for photographing your kids at play.
Time of Day
If outdoors, try to photograph them during the sun’s lowest time (early morning or later in the day).
Try to photograph them when they are in their best mood (unless you are going for the grumpy play shots--you wanted natural, right?). A hint: Well-rested and well-fed kids tend to be more cooperative.
Get on Their Level
Photographing kids at their eye level makes for a much more pleasing photograph, and it also helps you get into their world and see what they see.
Guide Their Exploration and Play
If your little one decides she is bored and needs a hand in finding something interesting, help her. "Oooh, look at the boats, can you count the boats, can you find me a leaf or a stick?" Kids tend to find their own wonder most of the time, but sometimes they need a little nudge.
Don’t Force It
Don’t try to get them to make a fake smile or do something they don’t want to do (such as encouraging them to climb something if they are afraid--it’s not worth it!).
Tell a Tale
What is your image trying to say? Is it an emotion, such as happiness or joy? Or is it a record of an event, such as the first day of school or a holiday? Rather than taking a simple portrait, include elements in your image that help to tell the story.
Practice Makes Perfect
Keep your camera handy and test out at least a few of these tips every time you have a chance to take photos.
The more you practice, the more these tips will become second nature to you. Soon you’ll barely have to think about them as you create amazing images of your kids, your family, and everything around you.
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Photo at top: A child in Untermyer Park, Yonkers, photographed by Jane Goodrich for her NYMetroParents.com photo series of kids at play throughout Westchester County.
See more of Jane's photos in New York Is My Playground, with photographs by Jane Goodrich and text by Bob Raczka (book cover above).