Over the years I have had people ask how I capture the personalities of children in my images. The answer is much more simple than you might imagine. I've pulled five quick tips together for capturing authentic images of your children.
1) Always Have a Camera
I rarely leave my house without a camera. I say rarely because it has happened, but if it does, I feel very incomplete. I've been known to even carry my camera on a trip to the store, simply because I never know when a great moment is going to happen. It's like the Boy Scout motto "Always Be Prepared." While I'm not a huge fan of the images my cellphone creates, at least having that to capture an image can make sure you capture a moment as it happens.
2) Don't Say "Smile for the Camera!"
I've rarely asked my son or any child to smile for the camera. It's so easy to capture the real person when they aren't being asked to think about how to smile. Capture them as they are, doing what they love to do, in the place they love to do it in. That can be at home, at a park or surrounded by some of their favorite things or people. If they are asked to look at the camera, they have to stop and think about how they look, what they are doing and if you want them to smile or not.
For me some of my favorite photographs of my children are of them engaging in a favorite activity for that time in their life. Years down the road, I can look at those images and see in them, not only my child, but what they liked to do at that age.
3) Stalk Your Children
I follow my children as they play. I stalk them throughout various times of the day. I essentially become their personal paparazzi.
Of course it is important to put the camera down and be in the moment sometimes, but other times I have fun following my son and daughter around and snapping images as they play, rarely asking them to stop what they are doing and pay attention to the camera. The less they think about the camera being there, the better, when you are looking for candid images.
4) Keep snapping.
Don't take only one photo of the moment. Keep clicking the shutter to capture the perfect image of the event or activity or moment. Children move fast and constantly. You have to do the same and never miss a shot. You don't have to keep every image you take but at least you'll have several to choose from for the family album or to hang on the wall. This doesn't mean you have to snap away during and entire event or time together, but definitely take more than one or two images if you really want to capture authentic images.
4) Focus On the Moment
Don't think about photography perfection but about perfection in moments. When taking authentic images of your children, don't be so concerned about her hair being out of place or chocolate on his face or her shirt being ripped. Is she laughing? He is sticking his tongue out while concentrating like he always does? Then that's what matters the most
5) Let your children to be children.
This goes with the previous tip. If you truly want to capture who your children are, then let them BE children. Let them play. Let them climb trees.
Let them splash in mud puddles and lick ice cream cones with their church clothes on and even pick their noses.
Let children be real and your camera will capture who they really are.