Photography tips – Photographing moving manic children

It is an artform, I believe, to be able to capture toddlers.  As soon as they learn how to walk, they are constantly on the move.  Need I even tell you that this was the point I wanted to chuck my little point and shoot camera into the nearest pile of manure??  Yes, I went out and bought a DSLR post-haste as all I was shooting was blurry little bodies and occasionally just a foot.  It was truly depressing…and very frustrating.

Here are a few camera tips when dealing with taking pictures of moving children.

  1. If you have a p&s, make sure to use the function for sports.  The reason to use this preset is that it is set to use a higher shutterspeed.  When taking pictures of moving subjects you need to have a higher shutterspeed or else you will get blurry pictures.  If they aren’t moving (maybe they crashed from a sugar high or something), then use the portrait setting to get the depth of field that we love to see.  
  2. With a DSLR camera, you need to have a shutterspeed set at 200 or above.  Anything lower and you will likely get a blurry shot.  So, for example, if you want some depth of field, set your f-stop at around f3.5, then you need to fuss around with the ISO if the photo is underexposed.  On a bright day outside, you shouldn’t have any problem at keeping the SS up above 200, but inside at night you might have to have the ISO at 1600 and your aperture wide open as low as your camera will allow.  Here’s a post I did on the holy trinity of SS, Aperture and ISO.

Here are a few tips for taking better (any??) pictures of the kiddos.

  1. Get down to their level.  Yes, people, get used to sitting on the ground if you want a hope in having your moving urchin look in your direction at all.  
  2. If they are at the conversation/talking age, try to talk to them to get them engaged with you.  Then, make sure you have your camera a mere inches from your face so you can quickly capture that “look”.  
  3. Sometimes they will want to have their picture taken…most of the time they won’t.  Show them their picture in the screen.  That usually gets them interested in getting their picture taken.
  4. Have some sort of “prop” that will interest them.  Blowing bubbles is always a good thing, and those pinwheels that are on a stick…they love those!  These are little things that are cheap and simple, but that little kids love.  If you are brave, get one of those fantastic multi-colored swirled lollipops.  They are so colorful when photographed and there is definite interest and happy faces on the kids.
  5. Some tips I have heard from photographers…tell them there is a bug in your lens and have them try to find it…put a pez dispenser where your flash unit would affix to your camera…act like a complete goofball.  All tried and true techniques.

My best advice is just to interact with them and you will get some great shots.  Also, try shooting at different angles, remember the rule of thirds in composing shots (if you have the luxury of time) and watch the backgrounds to make sure they aren’t cluttering up the shot and changing the focus off of the subject.

Another random tip when shooting in the summertime.  The best time to shoot outdoors is on a bright overcast day or early/late in the day when the sun isn’t high in the sky.  Bright sunlight adds harsh shadows to their cute little faces.

Have fun shooting your little rocket ships!

Next week: Composition of your photographs.

I post photography and Photoshop tips (nearly) every Saturday, so check back for more or browse my archives under Photography Tips.