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How to take photographs the way your children and grandchildren enjoy

Sitting on bed, playing with light from shade. Subject did not like, but siblings did
Sitting on bed, playing with light from shade. Subject did not like, but siblings did

The grandchildren have come and gone and you're all nestled in your bed. The digital camera is on the floor charging and now you have time to reflect on the Christmas photos you have taken...

Grand-kids at play
Leonard Mossman

Photographing children can have its moments, especially if they are your own kids. It's much easier to photograph someone else's children than your own blood but it's not the end of the world, it can be done. Most parents say "Stand there, don't move, now smile!" when they are about to take the child's picture. Have you ever seen a child's photograph when they are forced to smile? It's just not a good natural smile. 

Parents who photograph their children should give the child space. If you have a telephoto lens, and even the least expensive cameras nowadays usually have some sort of zoom lens whether it's an optical and/or digital zoom, try to use it and get as far away from the child as possible.

The grandchildren in the slide show were interviewed after being shown some shots as the author was interested on their take of the shoot. They were asked which style of photo they liked best. They agreed on the set of photographs when the four of them were running (hint here - they were at play having fun, even though they were posed and did not know it) in front of the Jaguar Stadium. They were told to start from a certain position and run straight and try not to run in front of each other and not to run off and leave the others. They especially enjoyed the motion filter that was applied to the photograph.

The grandchildren was asked what they did not like about their shoot and it was basically agreed they did not like the closeness to the camera (In reality the camera was not close to them, a 200 to 300mm lens was used),  but it was the child's perception that it was close so this should be a hint to parents to give the kids distance when taking pictures of them.

The surprising part of the interview was that they preferred black and white photos as compared to color. When asked why, they replied "it was different."

The kid's age ranged from nine to fourteen years old. The snow effect did not go over with them as much as anticipated however when asked if they liked it, they replied "those were neat."

The older kids thought they looked terrible in their solo photographs, it seems they are self conscious of their looks, however the younger girl and male liked the photo of themselves doing "stupid" things such as laying on the pavement. But sometimes the parent's need to let it go and continue on without jumping all over them them for wallowing on the ground. It will only take away from the joy they are having and make your next set of pictures bad as far as expressions go.

The bottom line and hints for parents taking pictures of family (kids) are:

Give them distance
Let them play                                                                                                                                                                 Snap the picture when they are doing something natural                                                                                  Take them on locations, such as a park etc., and look for interesting backgrounds                                    Shoot in color, but experiment with changing to black and white in post editing                                          Pose them but let them take it from there

Happy shooting and please come back and read future articles for posing ideas for home shooting.