Photographers will often be invited to take portraits of families with young children, as this tends to be the time when most people are interested in having a portrait done of their family. Most of the time, I prefer to shoot family portraits in Montreal in the family’s home, backyard or a nearby park because the natural settings are both more interesting than studio backdrops and allow for more natural interaction with the subjects. However, from time to tome, I am asked to take studio portraits of families with young children and here’s a few shots and tips I can share on the experience.
- Keep it quick: while the time you spend setting up your lighting and gear can be unhurried, when your subject(s) have arrived, as quickly as possible you want to start shooting. The younger the child, the shorter the attention span will be and the more difficult it will be to get good shots with the child looking into the camera’s lens.
- Keep parents on cue: that means, while the temptation is incredibly strong and very natural for one or both parents to be looking at the child (who will be invariably not looking where you want he or she to look) you need to be ready for that split second when the child’s flitting gaze crosses your lens so you can get the shot. If the parents are at that instant looking sternly at their misbehaving child, the opportunity is lost. Tell the parents to look at you and keep smiling, and let you worry about the child. Eventually no matter how hyperactive the child, curiosity will get the best of him or her and he or she will want to look at the camera. If the parents are ready, you’ll get the shot.
- Take breaks: young children (1.5 yrs to 3 yrs old) will want to move around. A lot. It’s important to give them a little break between poses so they can burn off a little energy. Use a break to shoot just the parents, together (if you have someone else in studio to take care of the child) and then add the child back in. Sometimes seeing the parents get photographed will interest the child in doing the same and he or she will want to be back in the shot. You can also use a break to get some unposed impromptu shots of the child who just may cooperate by playing around right where you want them too (as happened this weekend for my recent photo shoot).