Guest blog by Max Therry
Getting good photos of toddlers can be difficult; as we all know, they are constantly exploring, wanting to be on the move, or getting cranky and throwing a diva tantrum worthy of Mariah Carey!
There are ways to get round this problem, and this is what we’re going to look at today. If you follow these tips, hopefully your photo sessions with children will go without a hitch.
Toddlers hate waiting around. They get bored quickly and want to move on to the next thing, so have your camera set up and ready to go before they arrive. This means making sure you have enough light to shoot with, or have your flashgun ready with fully charged batteries. If you’re prepared beforehand, your shoot will go a lot smoother.
Toddlers love showing off what they can do, and if you can get them to play a game or show one of their skills, you’ll get some great natural images with a happy and willing child.
When you shoot down on small children from adult height, it adds a distance to your images and doesn’t allow the viewer to connect with the subject. It also distorts your subjects slightly; for better composition and a more engaging image, get down and shoot from the child’s height. Children also like it when you come down to their level.
Get some toys ready. If it’s summertime, get some toys or games out in the garden. If the child is having fun and is interested in what’s going on it’s much easier. Involve the child by showing them the images of themselves on the back of the camera, and talk about what you’re doing.
Natural, unposed shots are great. You can try a couple of posed images first, then move to candid shots before the child gets bored. Once a child is busy playing, just start shooting from different angles. Never try to force actions or emotions. If you tell a child to smile and they are feeling bored or frustrated, the resulting images won’t be good.
Toddlers have a short attention span, so keep the shoot short and sweet. They also get tired and cranky easily, and if you drag the shoot out with a tired toddler you’re on a hiding to nothing. Look for the signs that the child has had enough, and act accordingly.
It can be tempting to start adding all sorts of filters and sharpening to your images once you get them in your image processing software, but try and resist. We’ve all seen those hideously over-processed images of children on the internet, so remember, less really is more!
All your images really need is cropping, some adjustments to color and contrast, and perhaps some shadow and highlight adjustment. If you want to add a filter or preset to your images, just use one. Be careful with sharpening your images, it’s easy to overdo it.
If you have a DSLR or compact camera, change your settings so that you are shooting in RAW format instead of JPEG. RAW is what professional photographers use, because all of the information in the image is kept and is not changed, while with JPEG the image is compressed and other settings such as sharpening and color are applied in camera.
RAW format image quality is far superior to JPEG, meaning you can work on it in post processing without deteriorating the quality further. If you don’t have RAW format, shoot at the largest size JPEG possible for your camera.
To shoot in RAW, you’ll also need a RAW file converter on your computer to open the images afterwards. Lightroom and Luminar are just two image editors that will do this, and GIMP is a completely free option.
This is an important step to ensure your precious images aren’t lost forever if your computer dies on you or is corrupted. Pro photographers will often back up their images to three different devices, but you don’t need to go that far.
A simple solution to this problem is to get some kind of backup storage, and Picture Keeper Pro is easy to use. Simply plug it in, click ‘start backup’, and it does all the work for you. You can also get Picture Keeper Connect for your iPhone/iPad, so your images are protected whatever device they’re on.
Photographing toddlers can be immensely rewarding, and gives you precious memories to look back on when they are older. Keep these tips in mind for when you plan your next shoot, and it should be an enjoyable experience for all.