6 Tips for Photographing Children's Experiences

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Tips for Photographing Milestones of Kids
Tips for Photographing Milestones of Kids

After nearly 1.5 years of carefully chopping away at Alwyn's hair (I gave him his first trim around 10 months), I finally gave in and brought him to a trained professional. This was a big milestone for Ephram last year, so I wanted to make sure I documented it for Alwyn as well. For some odd reason, letting go and having someone else cut their hair is a big milestone for both them and me. Watching them grow into big people, having to test their behavior in public, overcoming the fear of trying something new. It's all part of the story I want to be able to tell them when they're older and have photographs to show them as well.

So how do you manage to take photos of those experiences you want to document for your children? Here are 6 tips.

How to Photograph Childhood Milestones and Experiences
How to Photograph Childhood Milestones and Experiences

1. Be Prepared

Obviously, taking a camera is key, but also making sure it's nearby and ready to quickly capture something. I like to keep my camera crossways on my body and I tuck the body of my camera onto my lower back. This keeps my hands free when I need to wrangle a child, but it's still accessible for photo taking.

Being prepared also means preparing your expectations. I went into this particular experience with very low expectations since I knew Alwyn would be nervous about sitting down on a strange chair and having someone touch him. I even with in with the expectation that if he was too scared, we may not get the haircut at all. Luckily, he only cried for a moment at the beginning and a sucker was enough of a bribe for him to allow me to set him down on the chair.

2. Find The Light

As with any photo, lighting is important. The hair salon we visit has a large window at the storefront and that's it, so all of my photos were taken with the window to my back so that I was taking advantage of as much natural light as I could. Be mindful of lighting conditions and if you're inside, stay as close to windows as you can without being in direct sunlight.

Tips for Photographing Milestones of Kids
Tips for Photographing Milestones of Kids

3. Move Around, Up & Down

In the situation above, Alwyn was already raised up high in the chair, but I still found myself bending down to take photos at his eye level. In particular, I wanted to document how well he did sitting still while the hair stylist clipped the hair right above his eyes, and in this case I needed to bend down to capture his face. Make sure to get down to their level when photographing them to show their perspective of the experience.

Tips for Photographing Milestones of Kids
Tips for Photographing Milestones of Kids

4. Focus On Details

Tell the story by capturing photos other than of their face. Alwyn was not very happy about having the smock over his hands, so he did what he could to keep them out in the open. Seeing his little hand sitting patiently on his knee really shows his attitude in the moment.

Tips for Photographing Milestones of Kids
Tips for Photographing Milestones of Kids

5. Don't Ask For Smiles

Instead of cheesy smiles, capture the real moment. What are their expressions and attitude toward the experience? Nervous, sad, happy, excited? Alwyn was super focused on his sucker during his haircut and I wanted to capture that over a "Hey Alwyn, look here and smile!" moment.

6. Anticipate Emotions

You likely know (at least a little bit about) what your kids like and dislike, so try to think ahead and guess at how they'll react to something. What part of the experience will probably make them happy? What part will make them open their eyes real wide? Alwyn was mostly serious the entire way through, but towards the end, the hair stylist used the blow dryer to blow the clippings away. I knew he'd love the wind, as he always does outside, so I immediately picked up my camera to capture his reaction.

Tips for Photographing Milestones of Kids
Tips for Photographing Milestones of Kids

What experiences have you captured recently?