Children photograph best when the camera is at their level; get down on your knees for the child’s perspective. Follow the child in his activity shooting many shots rapidly. Zoom back and get some shots of the scene, as well, keeping the child as the focal point. Zoom in close and get pictures of his facial expressions.
If a very young child is sitting peacefully, he cannot be directed to look in a certain direction. But if you hold up a toy, such as a teddy bear, his eyes will follow the toy. If you have placed your camera on a tripod, and generally composed the shot in advance, you can then move the toy around and the child will look in that direction. Use the sports mode and make many shots.
Taking pictures of active children outdoors has different challenges. It works best if you can confine the activity to a small area, such as a flower garden, a clump of bushes, a large tree, or the edge of a duck pond. Left alone in a large area, children will roam all over, leaving you gasping on the ground trying to breathe. Again, use the sports mode, take many pictures as they play. Zoom in and out frequently, but beware of the background intruding: you don’t want branches seemingly growing out of a child’s head.
In summary, taking pictures of young children works best if you are somewhat prepared.
- Insert a large memory card in your camera. Memory is cheap these days; buy a couple of large capacity cards and practice until you can switch cards quickly. Mark the cards (#1, #2, etc., or some other code), so you can quickly identify and distinguish them.
- Make sure your memory cards are erased; you will be taking a lot of pictures.
- Bring a tripod; know how to mount the camera and remove it quickly. Practice several times before the shoot, because you don’t want to be fiddling around when you should be shooting pictures.
- Consider the setting. If indoors, have a toy or two to occupy the child. If outdoors, try to choose a location that will occupy the child’s (or children’s) interest and is a relatively small area.
- Get plenty of sleep beforehand, you will need to be rested before tackling children who seem to have more energy than a racehorse.