photographing children photo workshop
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Advice for the Aspiring Professional
Resources for Inspiration
The Importance of Play
Valeria Spring / www.theredballoonphotography.com
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4inward to find out what really inspires you both visually and emotionally. This chapter explores what you should know when you begin your jour-ney photographing children and offers a starting point for inspiration.
ADVICE FOR THE ASPIRING PROFESSIONALJudging by the popularity of digital cameras, its apparent that photography has become an inter-national pastime, if not a downright obsession. Prices and availability have made cameras more affordable than ever, and technology continually presents point-and-shoot capabilities that result in amazingly good exposures. Now even the cell phone cameras have entered the competition.
What is it, then, that pushes you over the edge to want to become a professional photographer, to make images that are better than the rest, good enough to be called, dare I say it ... art? Has being a photographer been a lifetime dream? Or have your ever-improving photographs of your own children caused friends and neighbors to ask if youll photograph their kids? Do you have a true love for and patience with children? Are you will-ing to put up with a shy child who doesnt want to leave her mothers side, as in 1-1, or do you have the patience to wait for a newborn to fall asleep in her fathers arms?
Photographing children is not for the faint of heart. Just ask any child photographer and you will hear enough stories about fussy newborns and stubborn toddlers that it might make you think twice about this genre of photography. Certainly, a bowl of fruit is much more cooperative than an 18-month-old. You can find great light, and spend all afternoon working the angles for the perfect shot of fruit. Not so with children.
Subject to every whim of the children they pho-tograph, the childrens photographer must be part Pied Piper, part parent, part psychologist, and, oh yes, part photographer. Making images of chil-dren can tax you in every possible way. Chasing them is a physical workout, while trying to coax a 2-year-old (or a 14-year-old, for that matter) to see things your way takes every psychological skill in your arsenal. Add to all this the technical challenges of learning photography in general and your camera in particular, and you might feel like giving up before you even start.
While photographing children may not be the eas-iest hobby or way to make a living, it might turn out to be one of the most rewarding adventures you ever pursue. Children simply are the most fas-cinating subjects. Young children in particular havent learned to be guarded and self-conscious. Every thought and mood is transparent on their faces, which allows for images with great expres-sion. Sometimes, you lift your camera at just the right moment, the planets align, and you capture a photograph of something so precious that you for-get all the challenges and you are reminded of your love for photographing children.
Whether you are a parent or professional, being successful at childrens portraiture requires you to get in touch with your inner child, and to reach
Perhaps you only have a point-and-shoot camera this is fine; this is
enough. Dont be intimidated by all the latest advances and technology. The advent of digital photography will allow you to be more successful, more quickly than ever before. You will know when you need to advance, but to start all you need is a camera and a child.
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PHOTOGRAPHING CHILDREN / The Art of Photographing Children
Ask yourself questions such as
Are you happy simply recording your immedi-ate and extended family history and your friends lives?
Do you love to find the beauty and complex-ity in things around you?
What type of photographer are you and where are you now?
Do you have enough technical skill to feel confident charging for your services or do you have a passion to photograph children as more of a hobby at this point?
If you are considering photographing children as your career and dont feel a draw or some sense of enchantment toward little ones, you would be much better off finding another subject or specialty.
BE INSPIREDWhether photographing children for fun or profit, paying attention to your creative journey, past and present, helps you develop your own individual style or signature. That signature enables you to create more captivating, inspiring, and authentic photographs.
Before you dive headfirst into the art and business of photography, think about what draws you in and what your aspirations are as a photographer. Taking time to evaluate your goals and motiva-tions will inform every decision, whether its the type of equipment you need or the kind of busi-ness you might want to have.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Children can be among the most chal-lenging and rewarding of photographic subjects. Taken at ISO 100, f/3.5, and 1/250 second. Allison Tyler Jones / www.atjphoto.com
A photographers work is given shape and style by his personal
vision. It is not simply technique, but the way he looks at life and the world around him. ~Pete Turner
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6If you were to ask ten people to photograph the same child in the same environment, you would see ten different approaches and styles, because the eyes of the photographer are inevitably fil-tered by past experiences and personal vision (whether the photographer knows it or not). So why not hone in on this tendency and begin to develop your own vision and style?
A NOTE TO PARENTS A large percentage of photographers who decide to photograph children, either as a hobby or a vocation, do so when they become parents. Suddenly noth-ing is more profound than nurturing and observing your perfect and beautiful creation. Watching his or her every move and expression, the softness of the cheeks, and the miracu-lous achievements made each day is awe-inspiring. Using the downtime with a baby or young child and taking advantage of these precious moments enable you to begin to really see this child. Morning light through the window, sleepy eyes, and grateful smiles suddenly become your favorite subjects. Maybe you are a new parent now reading this book for ideas on ways to better capture your own child. Relax and enjoy the pleasure of making simple and spontaneous images of your child.
Who has a better potential to photograph your child than you? If youve ever taken your child to a mass-merchant photo studio to have his or her picture taken, you know that those pho-tographers arent exactly tuned in to the individual child. As a parent, you have the inside track on your childs expressions, moods, and quirks. You have access to your child 24 hours a day, allowing you to document the full range of activities, interests, and expressions.
But dont forget, your child also has the inside track on you. Somehow, kids just know how to push their parents buttons, and a friendly photo shoot can go from, Come on over here, sweetie, and lets take your picture to Stop touching your brother! Do you want a time-out? Before you know it, youre ready to send them all to their rooms all because you wanted a nice photo for you to remember how much you love your kids.
And so, a caution to all parents out there: Remember why youre taking these photographs in the first place. Be patient with those little ones (even when they arent so little anymore). When youre first learning about photography, you can be so worried about getting the shot that you forget to be in the moment with your child. Maybe one time you could photo-graph the neighbors children and alternatively, she could photograph yours. You know youll be nicer to her kids than you are to your own; theyll be on their best behavior too for a while anyway!
As you discover different styles of portraiture, you might wonder how
different effects are achieved. Chapter 6 explores the most common types of childrens portraiture, from classic studio work to the emerging popularity of envi-ronmental portraits. Chapter 11 gives you some cre-ative post-production tips to enhance your photographs and help create your style.
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PHOTOGRAPHING CHILDREN / The Art of Photographing Children
Along the way, go ahead and learn the skills and approaches of others, but eventually your very own style will begin to surface and resound. Yes, traces of this mentor or that mentor might show up in your images, but your own vision will shine through, as in 1-2. In fact, you couldnt hide it if you wanted to.
The photo in 1-3 is a new take on an old subject, the family portrait. Taking the best of classic por-traiture combined with new elements of more photojournalistic style, this photo of a young fam-ily says something fresh and interesting about their lives together. This lifestyle photography has become a very popular style.
Do you ever take the time to think about wh