[This is a guest post from David Bier. You can find out more about David below]
In this post I’ll teach you three tips to improve how you take pictures of your kids. To introduce myself, I’m a children’s photographer and a dad – my son, Isaac, is two and a half, so I learned this advice in the school of hard knocks. (And grabbing hands, tantrums, and snotty noses!)
You’re expecting lots of technical tips, yes? Well hang on there cowboy, because before any of that stuff comes the most important advice of all…
Tip #1: PUT THE CAMERA DOWN
Before you start snapping away, just quickly reflect on what has prompted you to take a picture. Is it an expression, is he engrossed in an activity, is she laughing at your silly duck noise? Is this a self-conscious child? What you need to ask yourself is: will pointing a camera at this scene stop the magic? Will morphing from dad into photographer-dad affect something special that will be better remembered without you mucking it up?
If so, consider not taking a picture but just enjoying the moment, because it won’t come back. There will always be another smile or a laugh, but if you love photography there’s a temptation to watch your child develop through the viewfinder. I suffer that temptation but I’m learning to resist it.
That does mean I take fewer pictures. But the ones I do take have much more of Isaac’s personality in them because I don’t disturb the moment. And the additional benefit is that I play much more with him than in the early days when I shot about 500 frames a month. If you have now decided that this is indeed a Kodak moment, here’s tip two…
Tip #2: BECOME VULCAN
This is not about halting speeding toddlers in their tracks with a Nerve Pinch. I’m referring to the mind meld. No-one knows your child in the same way that you do. So show that in your photographs of them.
Don’t expect a shy kid to become a show-off. Don’t expect a spirited child to sit still. It’s not what they’re about, so set your expectations accordingly. Think about who this little person is and let who they are fill the frame.
Tip #3: KEEP IT REAL
This is about engaging your child to get a really authentic, natural reaction, rather than getting all “smile for the birdy”. You’re trying to capture an expression, a mannerism, a quirk of their emerging personality, right? So don’t stamp all over it with lots of directions and commands.
You know those little games you play? Blowing raspberries on their tummies, Donald Duck impressions, bizarre squeaks and clicks that we’d all find a bit odd but make total sense to you and your kid? Work out ways of incorporating those into your photography and you’ll never see that fake smile again.
Granted, you probably have about a tenth of a second to make these judgements, but no one said great photography was simple. Just think about the payoff – fantastic images of what makes your child unique right now. And we haven’t even started talking about the technical aspects yet!
David Bier is a professional children’s photographer based in London. So you can imagine how many pictures he has of his son Isaac. You can find out more about his children’s photography at his website.
p.s. Here’s a little smatter of some of David’s killer photos! (click for a larger version)