Baby & Toddler Shots
Young children are a favorite subject for both amateur and professional photographers. As a subject, kids are adorable, funny, precious, and intriguing. But they also move quickly, are temperamental, have short attention spans, and tire fast. These factors present quite a challenge for such a tiny subject. But the reward of capturing a great shot makes the exhausting pursuit worth the effort. Whether it’s a fantastic shot of one of your own, an awe inspiring photo of a friend’s child, or if you’re doing it professionally, use the following tips to give you the motivation to keep producing winners.
© Russ Burden
CLOTHING: When you know you’ll be working with little kids, make sure they are dressed to bring out their best. Keep the clothing simple as it shouldn’t be the focus of the image. Solid colors work well. Work with primaries as they tend to be simple, colorful and won’t compete for attention with the subject. The busier the attire, the more confusing the image becomes to the viewer. Make sure the clothes fit the environment in which the baby will be photographed. If the baby is wearing patterns that are busy and is then placed in a setting with a busy background, the result is patterned chaos. If the baby has wide and colorful eyes, matching the clothing to the eye color works well.
© Russ Burden
SCHEDULE: Learn the young child’s schedule unless photographing a cranky subject is your thing. This means working around its feeding time, nap time, and active time. If the child is yours, it makes the job easier as you’re there to work when the child is ready. If you’re working with a friend’s or client’s child, find out when the child naps, eats, and is most active. I find the best times to work with young kids is after their nap and they’ve just had a snack or two. I then give them a bit of play time so they’re not at their most active point. This play period often presents great candid opportunities as I have the parent play with the child which gives me great candid moments of the parent and child interacting.
© Russ Burden
EQUIPMENT: Depending on the activity I want to photograph, I either use window light or flash. If the child is a bit older and can stay still for short periods of time, window light works well to give mood to the image. If it’s a formal shot, and I need precise lighting, I bring the subject into the studio. If I want to create more of a candid appearance, I’ll often work outdoors and use fill flash to soften the contrast of a bright sunny day. In the images that accompany this article, the first shot was done as the mother and child were interacting. I did use straight flash as I was simply concentrating on candids and the parent loved the frozen moment. The second one was made on a bright overcast day and I used a bit of fill to bring out the fantastic expression of the young boy. The third photo is an example of using flash outdoors. In that the boy was wearing a baseball style cap, I needed a lot of fill to overpower the strong shadow across the subject’s face. I dialed in plus 1/3 and it created a nice overall balance. With regards to a lens, I strongly encourage the use of a zoom as it will give you diversity to modify the composition of your fast moving subject.