Photographing children can be both a joyful and a rewarding process, but it is also uniquely challenging. To those of you starting out as a child photographer, you will start to understand that there is a very fine line between capturing special memories that last a lifetime, and capturing tantrums, tears, and meltdowns! With my experience as a child photographer in Dubai, I have picked up on several tips and tricks, I shall be sharing my three golden rules with you all today. Whether you are looking to photograph your own kids or are launching a career as a child photographer, these three tips will definitely help things go a little more smoothly and hopefully make your life easier as well.
# Location Matters
This goes without saying choose your location very carefully, a location where there is enough space for the kids to run around freely always works best, usually I find most photographers tend to go for a park, which is a fantastic choice... until the kids see the playground and get super distracted! Lately, I find myself scheduling more of my shoots in open fields, the start of hiking trails or covered bridges -- these locations typically have lots of open space for the children to move around freely, and can also be more aesthetically pleasing for capturing candid shots. Keep in mind, you don't always need to take pictures from the front, try capturing some pictures of the child running away from the camera, or even with their face hidden while they read a book for example.
# Entertain them
Find ways to make the children laugh, this will ease them into taking photographs and will also make them feel a lot more comfortable around you. I try to make them laugh by singing songs, dancing for them or just telling them a funny story while I capture images in their natural environment.
In my experience, most kids find it extremely fascinating to run through a whole string of different faces: silly, angry, hungry, happy, surprised and maybe even a princess/dinosaur face! Simply ask them to re-create one of the "faces" mentioned above, and while they do so, get ready to capture their laughs and smiles while they see you reacting to their faces, this will lead to the most genuine photographs!
Another thing that seems to work well is to ask the child to give you a funny pose. Be ready to capture their tongues out and all sorts of hysterical shenanigans. Get the parents, elder brother's or sisters involved in the photoshoot as well, I usually have them tickle the children and capture images of them all laughing together. A great way to end the shoot would be to get a parent to throw their child up in the air, or simply give them a piggy-back ride while walking off into the distance, this always leads to super natural looking photos, no matter how cranky they are.
# Be sensitive, be patient and have a sense of humor
When it comes to kids, you may have taken most things into consideration such as the timing and the location of the session, but sometimes meltdowns just happen for no reason at all. Its worth remembering that a photography session can be extremely stressful for a child and can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on them. One thing I always keep in mind is never force poses on kids, go with the flow, and let them do what they're comfortable and happy doing. Also, do not tire them out - I always keep an eye to look for signs from the children which may indicate that they're getting tired. When I do notice them, I stop and switch to a more fun activity like hide and seek for example.