Photographing Children: how to capture them at their natural best
Professional photographer and local mum Katrina specialises in photographing children.
Katrina needs no further introduction, her photographs say it all.
As a specialist children's photographer, I am often asked by parents for tips on how to take photographs
of children, when they are on holiday, days out, as well as the everyday ones that mark the milestones
and serve as a happy reminder of when they were young.
It isn't about creating artificial pictures of smiling angels, the command 'smile please' is not one which
encourages genuine expressions. The best response I get from parents is when they see that I’ve
captured their little darlings' true personalities... 'oh you've really caught Josephine in that one',
or 'that is such a classic Phoebe face'...
Children of all ages can react very differently to a camera and even from a young age, when they are
far too young to understand what a camera is for, they respond to the body language of the person
behind the camera and others in the vicinity.
When I am taking pictures of my own children I invariably wait until someone else is playing with, or
talking to them, so that I can snap them unawares.
Whether I am taking pictures of children I know, or I am being commissioned to take pictures of children,
I always try to make sure they feel comfortable. I prefer to photograph children in their own home, or
out in a park, where they will relax and chat to me, or play with their parents. I talk, I listen, I play.
I display infinite patience (not necessarily something I have with my own children!).
And, weather permitting, I take as little equipment as possible. I keep it simple, as if I'm just a friend
with a camera. And then, when they've forgotten that I'm there, they'll climb a tree, or roll over to
giggle at their dad, and that's when I take the best photographs. That's when they reveal their most
natural expressions and their eyes light up as they smile.
One one shoot recently, two boys and their little sister tore around the house with excitement and point
blank refused to sit still for the camera. Their mother was hoping for a classic photograph of the three of
them under the Christmas tree. We did manage one good Christmas card photo, but the ones that really
worked happened right at the end of the session, when we released the little bundles of energy into the
garden. Stunning, candid portraits of them in their element in the winter sun.
In terms of extra gear, again I don't really like staged photographs with pointless props, but I do favour a
pot of bubble liquid, as a flurry of bubbles is guaranteed to catch the attention of little ones and get them
to look up at the light.
Timing is also key. I work quickly, and once an hour is up, then there's often no point trying to do any more.
That said, I'll often get lucky and catch a beautiful expression once the session is completed and I'm in the
process of packing up.
That's all really. Keep it nice and simple, and make sure everyone feels relaxed, parents included. And keep
watching, watching for those fleeting magical moments.
Oh and of course, a couple of packets of chocolate buttons in the camera bag help to achieve delighted
Katrina Campbell, photographer of little people.
Professional photographer and local mum Katrina specialises in photographing children. Katrina needs no further introduction, her photographs say it all.