Recently my dear friend Lisa Bearnson asked if I’d take pictures of her 11-month old niece, who hadn’t really had any ‘professional’ photos taken of her as of yet. Now, I am by no means a ‘professional’, but I can do okay. I know enough to get by, but in the photo world, I believe I’d still be considered an amateur. And it’s been years since I’ve photographed a child this age. Whew! It’s a workout!
So today, I thought I might share a few tips I used get some photos of this cutie.
Gotta keep up.
This is the biggest tip. These little tykes move fast! And you need to be ready in both might and mind…and by mind, I mean how you’re shooting. While I was in a lit area, it wasn’t lit enough to freeze the movements of this fast little one. I prefer just shooting in Aperture mode these days and let the camera do its own configuration of shutter speed and ISO. On my Fuji X-T10, I can set a minimum and maximum ISO so that the camera has a range with which to stay in. But in this case, I did set my ISO to 2000. I didn’t want to take any chances. Many cameras these days can have a higher ISO without getting grainy. Sweet.
Additionally, I set my Aperture to f/2.8. The lower the number with the f-stop, the faster your picture takes as well as it lets in more light. But with that comes a trade off. If you shoot wide open like that, you’ll get the nice blurry backgrounds, but then with an enclosed setting and fast-moving subject, you may end up focusing on an elbow rather than the eyes. At first I set my focus area to the full frame, which basically lets the camera pick what to focus on within that whole space. But when I took this photo below, I needed to switch to a specific middle-range of focus points–one that I could move and pick the area. The first photos I’d taken kept focusing on her elbow, so I had to switch to a narrow focus area that I could move around and pick the area that I needed. Using that 2.8 and shooting this close doesn’t allow you much leeway with what comes into focus.
Get down on their level.
One thing you need to do, is go with their flow. If they get down on the floor, you get down with them. You can get some sweet shots like this above by laying on the floor with them. She was winding down with energy and having some fun just laying on the floor with me and watching me….while I watched her. ;)
Perfection is in the imperfection
Candid shots always have the best energy…the best personality. And no person can do this better than a young child. You have to expect the unexpected and just roll with it. You can’t get a one-year old to sit still for longer than two seconds.
You may not always get the perfect framing, but you can crop it later. Sometimes it’s better to stand back and allow the child the freedom of the frame instead of you worrying about getting a perfect ‘straight of the camera’ shot.
In this example above, there was much of the wood cabinets and much of the carpet because I’d taken it vertically. Cropping to a square eliminated many of the distractions so that we could focus just on that cute little stink.
Take 100 photos to get 10 good ones.
I probably took 150 photos in that one hour time frame and got maybe 15 photos that I think were really darling. Blurry. Moving. Out of frame. You name it. They are there.
I loved the previous photo as a full shot, but also thought it would be amazing to zoom in on her face and her little hand…and change it to black and white for just sweet simplicity of her expression and hand gesture. Tiny little things that you want to remember.
Photograph the ordinary.
It was time to eat. You don’t hold up a hungry baby for the sake of a photo. Lisa had propped her up on this brown+tan pillow. Since she was wearing a tan and pink sweater with a black+white polkadot bow, the colors worked better…when not in color. I love the textures and patterns in shades of grey. And again, using the focus points allowed me to get her face rather than the end of her bottle.
Take your time.
I think that you have to find the balance of moving quickly, but still taking your time. Get to know your camera’s main settings. Practice with them so you can be quicker at accessing them–know how to quickly change your focus points. You have a short window with a child. They’ll stay entertained only for so long before they want to move on to something else and you miss that ‘one shot’. Knowing what might work ahead of time will help, but then again, you still need to be able to go with the flow…and the munchkin…because…they are always on the go. ;)
I actually did very little editing on these photos. I mostly just lightened them. I like the naturalness of it all. I think the subject and conditions with which I was shooting warranted only a little lightening. The sparkle–catchlight–in her eyes is all her own.
If you guys have any additional pointers, please share them! I don’t expect to make photographing littles a regular gig…until I’m a grandma, that is. ;)