Tuesday, May 12, 2009

5 Easy Tips to Improve Portraits of Children

In my experience, I must say that when it comes to portraits of children, the most important part of the shoot is keeping them entertained throughout the process. Once you lose a child to boredom, it can be very difficult to win back their attention and keep it.

Loose Toof!

I don't shoot an overwhelming number of portraits of children, but when I do get the opportunity to shoot children portrait photography, I am always looking for new ways to entertain my young subjects. Although different techniques work better for different age ranges of kids, here are 5 basic tips that I have found to be effective when working with kids.

1. Squeak Toys: For younger children, a squeaky toy can be a photographers best friend. Kids love the sound of funny noises, and they typically react positively toward them. If you're going to use squeak toys, try to keep them small. You want your subject to hear the noise, not beg you to hold the giant dog toy making the noise through the entire shoot.

2. Cartoons: Older children can be very passionate about their favorite cartoons or superheroes. Ask a couple of questions about their favorite cartoons, and you will be amazed by the animated emotions you can draw out of them (sorry for all the puns there).

3. Something Shiny: Babies tend to find shiny objects interesting enough to stare at for long periods of time. Whether it is a set of car keys, a small compact mirror or jewelry, you can usually use it to get their eyes to look in a certain direction long enough to get some good shots.

4. The goofy Face: I use this one most, but you have to be careful with this one. This one can easily backfire on you if you don't use it properly. You need to make a game out of it. What I will do is make a goofy face at them. If they smile, great! I snap the shutter. If they don't, I dare them to make a face goofier then the one I just gave them (and they usually take the bait). When they make the goofy face, I snap the shutter and immediately claim, in a joking voice, that I didn't mean to take a picture of that goofy face or that he/she may have broke my camera because that face was so scary. That kind of reaction often gets them to giggle or laugh. And it is at that very moment, you should be clicking the shutter.

5. The secret weapon: When everything else fails, and you just can't get them to smile or react the way you want them to, this timeless entertainment device works every time. Enter the comedic excellence of... The Whoopi Cushion. That's right! The old fart bag. Place it under your arm, and squeeze it against your torso to let out a nice burst of noisy air that will surely make your subject(s) laugh and smile. Of course you'll want to play off the noise by asking your subject(s) if they just did that. This may seem a bit crude to some people, but when your desperate for results, reaching down for a little harmless potty humor can work wonders. And let's face it, farts are funny!

These are things that have worked for me in the past, and techniques that I will utilize in the future to improve my portraits of children, and I am always open for new ideas. I would love to hear some other techniques photographers use to get great results for children portrait photography. Please share what works for you.

Sacramento Photography

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