It seems like you are the guy to go to for help. My husband has been doing photography and now I have decided to join him. However, I want to do children's photography and he does alot of nature scenes. He is doing his best to explain to me what I need to do to take a great shot, but he is totally over my head. I was reading your tutorials and you really break everything down well. If you have a moment will you please give me some tips on taking children's pictures. I don't have a studio so they will be outdoors. For instance what time of day is best and where do I position the child compared to the sun?
Thanks in advance!
Michelle (not her real name)
I will post a couple of suggestions and then allow some of our other fine Photocamel image makers with experience photographing children to chime in with their suggestions.
First don't point the childs legs or body (if standing) straight toward the camera. When you pose the child on the floor or ground turn their body so it will be at a 45 degree angle to where the camera will be. I don't ever place a child on a table, on a fence, up on a stump or large rock. They can fall off and injure themselves and while I don't mind ambulance chasers getting rich, I prefer that they not get rich from me or my insurance company! Have mom standing near the child just out of camera range, or have them (or grandmother) "hide" behind the main light and play peek-a-boo with them.
I have a bright green foam rubber ball that is slit so it can be placed on my nose. I slip it on and then quickly pop up behind the camera and I make a funny noise. MOST of the time the child will laugh.
Don't throw a stuffed animal (or anything) at the child as you may startle them. Suggest to mom that she should be ready to be photographed also just in case the little one is wary (or downright scared) of you. Don't use large props (like teddy bears) that are substantially larger than the child, or that are brightly colored (like plastic outdoor toys.) Both will attract the eye of the viewer to the prop rather than the child. Small props in the same key as the clothing and background work best. Flat lighting or a 2 to 1 ratio of lighting looks best. Most parents don't like dark heavy shadows in baby or young children portraiture.
Outdoors, make sure the grass is mowed, and that there are no ground hornets! That happened to me once! Prior to the family arriving I placed a short log (to seat dad on) in a shady area. Unknown to me, I had set it down right on top of the entrance hole to the hornet nest. I stepped back to see what the background was going to be, and saw that in that spot a small tree would be growing out of dad's head, so I stepped into the scene to move it and promptly got stung!
If you live where fire ants are a problem make sure there are no nests nearby, if so kill 'em off. For ground hornets, wait until dark, take a bottle of rubbing alcohol and pour it in the hole and cap it with a rock. They will die within a minute or two. That may also work with fire ants, but I'm not sure.
DON'T use the sun as your light source. It is too bright, too hot and too specular. Step into the shade where the light is soft. Make sure there are some overhead tree branches to block the overhead light (no one looks good with raccoon eyes!) Use a silver reflector NOT GOLD. A gold reflector will add a yellowish color to the side that is affected by the bounced light. Shoot a gray card first and shoot Raw.
Benji's Book Posing and Lighting
My full color 8.5 x 11 inch glossy 44 page book on how to pose and light the high school senior girl is in my hands are ready to be shipped. It has 44 different poses in it, including head and shoulders, waist up, 3/4 and full length poses. Twenty six poses are shown without a prop, most of the rest of the poses are with chairs that can be bought locally in a second hand furniture store (or new!) I also show a steel "school" chair that I have modified, and I've included instructions how to do it. Four pages of lighting diagrams and five wide angle shots showing the entire scene, then the actual close up shot of that same image so you can see just what the heck the rest of her body is doing to get that great close up shot! LOTS of posing and lighting tips in easy to understand language. Poses for the larger gal as well as the size 6 senior are shown. This is a "lay flat" book that you can show to your client and let her choose what she likes thereby eliminating poses that will not sell.
Benji's Video Photographing The High School Senior in the New MillenniumOver 45 minutes long and jam packed with lots of good instruction on posing and lighting for the high school senior girl. How to get beautiful indoor lighting for head and shoulders portraits, 3/4 length and full length poses. All of this and lots more are covered, most showing exactly what I do to get the shot. I show in several of the images what problems will crop up when YOU attempt this pose and what you need to do to correct it. The exact placement of the lights to get these shots is also covered in detail. Outdoor poses are covered also. Perfect exposure quickly and easily whether you are shooting digital or film. This is the instructional video for you. You have already experienced my easy to understand style of teaching in my tutorials found here and several of them are included in this video also.
How to order: