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Children are among the most appealing photo subjects, because of their seemingly limitless energy and cute expressions. Their playfulness and spontaneity is a joy to record. Some are bold and will clown around for your camera, but you can capture great images of a bashful child as well. Whether you’re photographing your own children or those of a friend or relative, there are a number of points to keep in mind for a successful photo shoot.

Children make great subjects for candid photography because of their playfulness, energy, spontaneity, and cute expressions. Spend a little effort to keep your small subjects interested, and you should get some great pictures.
Reader photo by Mike Mallory, Houston, TX

Experiment With Camera Angles
It’s important to experiment with different camera angles and levels when photographing kids. You’ll usually get the best photos by moving down to the child’s level, even if this means getting down on the floor. Your portraits will be more intimate, and you’ll render the child’s facial expressions and bodily proportions in a more natural-looking perspective.

If you photograph children from your eye level while standing (or at an even higher level), you can purposely show how small a child is in an adult’s world. There may be times when you’ll want to stand back and depict a child in his/her environment, but be careful about including extraneous clutter in your photos.

Reader photo by Ben Newton, Kilgore, TX

Keep It Interesting
Children have notoriously brief attention spans, so consider photographing them with a favorite toy or engaged in play. You’ll find that a colorful toy can also serve as a pleasing photo prop. You can get some great pictures when the child is unaware of the camera or has become accustomed to its presence, so keep your camera handy.

It sometimes helps to engage your young model in conversation, or have someone stand next to you and make funny faces. If a posed portrait is what you’re after, shoot for brief periods of time and take lots of breaks. Just remember that photo sessions should be fun for both you and the child, otherwise he/she will learn to run in the opposite direction whenever you reach for your camera.

Reader photo by Lisa Kazelman, Dover, OH

Keep Your Distance
Even while playing, children will be more relaxed if you’re not too intrusive. If your camera has a built-in zoom, use a moderate telephoto setting to put a little distance between you and your subject when shooting close-ups. If your camera accepts interchangeable lenses, something in the 80–105mm range (or its equivalent with a digital camera) is ideal for portraits. You’ll want to choose a telephoto setting that will allow you to stand back and still get a full frame shot of your child, and perhaps a close-up of his/her face.

A moderate telephoto will also render your subject’s features in a natural, undistorted way. This is not to say that you should never use another focal length. Experiment with wide angle to normal lenses for different effects. For environmental portraits of a child in a play area, for example, a wide angle lens will enable you to encompass a broader scene.

Reader photo by Brian Loudermilk, Bellevue, WA

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