What can you do when you are faced with kids who won’t look at the camera?
Maybe they are too shy or nervous or perhaps they are just extremely excitable!
It’s important at times like these that you have some strategies and ‘go-to’ shots to try.
Here are 7 ideas to get you started…
Let me know in the comments if you have any more to add!
Not that long ago, child photography was all about taking the kids to a photographic studio and asking them to stay still and pose in front of a backdrop. That’s all well and good if you have an angelic, placid, obedient, contented and still child… but for the other 99.9% of us, an experience like that is way up there with root canal treatment or something.
Thank goodness child photography has moved on and the emergence of lifestyle photography has seen photographers getting kids out of a studio setting and into a more natural environment where they can have some fun.
But even in these more natural settings we still hope we are going to be able to set up some poses and get plenty of images of the kids looking into the camera – and usually you will manage to do that.
But every now and then along comes a kid who just doesn’t want to. It might be that they are too shy in front of you, or they are nervous of the camera. Or, they might just be a bit over-excited and mischievous.
When that happens you want to have some stuff up your sleeve to make sure you still get some winning shots.
So here are 7 ideas for when you come across ‘that child’.
1.Let them do something they are not usually allowed to do
This is more effective for the over-excited kid rather than the shy one. Allow them to jump on the sofa, bounce on their parents’ bed or blow bubbles in the house. It’s unlikely they are going to say no and you can simply check the light and position yourself in such a way as to capture all the action.
2. Let them walk away
This is great for shy kids. Find a nice spot with some good light and just let them walk away from you. Maybe mum or dad could be just out of shot calling their name?
Adding a furry friend to a shot like this can be pretty cute AND comforting for the little one.
3. Get someone else to make them laugh
Honestly I don’t really make a big effort to make kids laugh myself when I am taking photographs. I find it really distracts me from the actual photography and, if they are not my own kids, I don’t really know what they find funny.
But their parents or siblings do! So make use of them and ask them to do whatever they know makes their child laugh. I always promise that I won’t look so that they don’t feel embarrassed.
Now they don’t need to be beside you to do this. One of my favourite things to do is to take a side shot of a child looking out of the window at a member of their family acting daft in the garden. The neighbours enjoy that too…
4. Give them a book to read or a game to play
Again, find a nice spot and some good light and give them a few of their favourite books. Simply let them flick through the pages and capture the scene from lots of different angles. Set up a mini tea party with some toys and a tea set and just let them play. Or give them your phone or tablet to play with. These are all especially good ways to photograph siblings together.
If they don’t want to pose for you, just darken them down so much that you can’t see their grumpy faces! Only kidding (kind of). But actually you get loads of winning shots with silhouettes because it doesn’t matter about the expression on someone’s face. This makes it a really easy way to photograph kids.
Choose your light and your position well, expose for the highlights and boom!
By the way I go into shooting silhouettes in my master natural light video course – check it out.
6. Let them run!
Kids run everywhere don’t they? And actually they often smile or laugh when they run too. So let them run!
Again, choose your spot and your light and get them running towards you. You could ask mum or dad to shout to them from behind you or you could ask them to race their sibling. It doesn’t take much work to get a kid to run.
Just make sure you have those focus settings in check for this one. Check out this back button focus podcast episode. Back button focus is a game changer for fast moving subjects!
And lastly guys, if all else fails and you just can’t capture the little devil in a nice photograph no matter how much you try…
7. Get them whilst they sleep!
Crank that ISO up, switch on the hall light and get some angelic sleeping shots. Let’s face it – for some kids – it’s the only time they are at peace!
This is NOT an exhaustive list – I am sure you guys will have loads more ideas. So do one thing for me – if you have another strategy for kids who won’t pose – put it in the comments.
Don’t forget to check out the courses if you want to up your game.