Friday, November 12, 2010

Photographing Kids (capturing the moment)

Kids are innocent and deliver genuine expressions, but that comes with a cost; they won’t pose or stand still for long periods of time as they get bored quickly. It’s important to have in mind that kids love to play, and try to make the photoshoot look as pleasant as possible. Here are some tips:
1. Make you settings before you place kids in the scene: e.g. use a gray card to meter, or some other person, decide about the aperture, speed, ISO and filters you are going to use, etc. Don’t get the kids involve at this stage, because until you are finished with your settings, they will get bored.
2. Give them time: Don’t rush things out. Kids need their time; they eat frequently and sleep more frequently (!), but when they finish their nap they wake up with very good mood and energy.
3. Make photoshoot a game: give them candies (ask parents’ permission), play with them, ask them silly questions, have toys with you that make stupid sounds and make them laugh.
4. Use a wide aperture & focus on the eyes: A common practice when shooting portraits is to use a wide aperture to throw the disturbing background out of focus. You can use an extreme aperture like f1.4, which will throw everything except the focus point out of focus, but as long as you keep the eyes sharp, you have a winner. Always focus on the eyes; you have to have a very good excuse for not to. It’s also a good practice to use a telephoto lens which compresses facial characteristics and gives a flattering look to the portraits.    
5. Choose a neutral picture control: Don’t use vivid or any other picture control setting that delivers high contrast and saturated colors; skin tones have to look natural.
6. Capture the moment: At the end of the day the photos that will stand out will be the ones that manage to capture the moment (an innocent expression, a true laugh, love). Be ready for them when they show up, because they will; don’t spend time looking at the LCD screen at the back side of your camera; instead look at the action while happening. As a professional photographer you were hired to get these moments, not for taking snapshots.
7. Post-processing: When shooting in RAW you have great control in post-processing, while maintaining the highest image quality. Fix any white-balance and color issues, smooth skin tones and remove any unpleasant blemishes, apply sharpening to the eyes, but be careful so that your images don’t look unnatural; you don’t want skin to look like plastic and the eyes look glassy. Also try converting some of the images to black & white (Don’t just use the default settings, as they will result in a gray image. Black & white images that catch the eye have strong contrast and “extreme” blacks and highlights). Be aware that not all images are suitable for black & white, but when it works, it gives a documentary feeling.

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