A special tiny person came into my life a few years ago. As would any newly appointed dad, I decided to keep track of my little monster’s evolution. Taking photos of my son soon became my new hobby. I want my kid’s photos to be fun to watch and memorable for me, my wife and my family back home. If you are a fellow parent who wants your child’s photos that stand out: read on.
The Current State of Affairs
Try searching online for images with the keywords “child” and “photo” and all the snaps you will find look shockingly similar. The usual portrait we’ve seen over and over again: long focal length, wide aperture, blurry background (bokeh). Similarly, the storytelling cannot get any more cliche: kids smiling, bubbles in the air, cotton candies and so on. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing bad with that but this is oh-so-generic and uninspired. Soon your may realize that your that your precious memories are not so unique. They become interchangeable with everyone out there.
I thought to myself: “I don’t want my son to blend with the masses!”. I want to use my personal touch when capturing my kid on still images. And so would you, right? This way one day, hopefully, junior will understand our core values. How do we achieve that? Simply by using what we can learn when taking photos on a daily basis. The result might be influenced by the work of others by in the end you will surely develop your “je ne sais quoi”.
A Hint Of Street Photography
Thanks to my photographic experience, I know I have to think carefully every time I press the shutter release. I use the same techniques I apply on the streets. I stay focused and sharp—ready to catch the decisive moment. Sometimes, my wife and I stage most of the scenes, yet we pay attention never to fall into the trap of cliche.
Include Other People
Keep an eye on other people. Their attitude towards your offspring can quickly lead to situations worth capturing. It’s up to you to be observant enough so that you recognize and catch the decisive moment in time.
Forget [Totally] About The Gear
I mainly use a Ricoh GR camera with its 28mm fixed lens. If Ricky is not handy, I get my good old iPhone 5 out. When it comes to children photos, I think that gear is even less of a concern than usual. Anyways, as junior grows up, you will soon lose the power (mental or physical) to do the heavy lifting of camera equipment. Any seasoned parent will sympathize with this notion. Keep it simple and focus on the essential: the enjoyment of taking his/her picture.
Use The Environment
All humans evolved in an environment. Your toddler is part of this environment too. Therefore, there is no reason why it should constantly be photographed with bokeh backgrounds: an ooze of blurry colors. Use the surroundings to your advantage. When I see the surroundings are interesting I try keeping the F-stop high enough. Instead of blurring backgrounds, I strive each time to incorporate and make the most of the environment around.
How can you make your kid’s photos more fun and memorable? Easy! Enjoy quality time with your family and click the shutter when a good opportunity arises. Staging is indeed acceptable, but you must steer away from what everyone out there seems to be doing. You are the engineer in charge so lay the foundations for the decisive moment to happen. When teenage-hood comes around, your child will thank you for crafting those “sick” photos.