Nikon D3S, Nikkor 80-200/2.8, 200mm, F2.8, S-1/500sec . A moment captured during play. The contre-jour lighting contributes to the mood in the scene.

What photos can you find most often in the family album? Of course, photos of children. Many people buy a camera with the idea to ‘preserve’ the most interesting moments in the lives of little Mr. and Miss Naughty, their goofing around and their endless play. This prompted me to tell you some more about the specifics of shooting children. You might think that there will be nothing easier than shooting your children, but to make a really good portrait of a child, you will need plenty of patience, you will have to show a lot of tact and… sense of humour. You can take the best pictures of the little rascals while they are in their favourite world – the world of Fun and Play, while they are surrounded by their favourite toys, friends and pets.

Nikon D3S, Nikkor 80-200/2.8, 200mm, F2.8, S-1/500sec
Nikon D3S, Nikkor 80-200/2.8, 200mm, F2.8, S-1/500sec

It is exceptionally hard, which is to say that it is outright impossible, to shoot really good photos of children if you do not try to enter their world. Before you pick up the camera with the intention of shooting children, whether yours or somebody else’s, you must first try to win their trust. This is not that hard, as long as you remember that you were also a child once and you loved the same games children love today. Never start shooting right away. Try playing with them first, make them laugh with some tricks or brush up on your magic skills, tell them an interesting story or organise the game they are absorbed in in a fresh and interesting way. You will be amazed how quickly you will become part of their company. Now you can take out your camera and even, as a first step, allow your little friends to shoot a picture with it themselves.

SSony A900, Sony 70-200/2.8 F-2.8, S-1/400sec. High shutter speeds are a must when children are running. If the movement is towards you, you should use tracking AF.
Sony A900, Sony 70-200/2.8 F-2.8, S-1/600sec
Sony A900, Sony 70-200/2.8 F-2.8, S-1/1000sec. Look for random candid moments, they make for a richer story.

A great advantage of digital cameras is that it always attracts the attention of the children because they can look at the display and see how the photographs turned out. Shoot their play for some time and then show them some of the funnier moments you have managed to capture. I can guarantee you that after that it will be difficult to tame their desire for more shoots. Of course, initially you will have to put up with their natural urge to make faces and stick out their tongues and generally with all sorts of gimmicks in front of the camera.

FujiFilm S5Pro, Nikkor 50/1.4

This is completely normal, do not underestimate such photographs. Some may turn out quite interesting. After this initial period of general goofiness has passed, it is time to try some more ‘serious’ shooting in close-up and you can even try to ask them to stand in a certain way or strike a pose. Always look at the photographs you have taken because children move fast and they may get out of the frame within fractions of the second or change the interesting face you were trying to capture in the blink of an eye. Shoot at close range and if possible shoot close-ups in order to maintain immediate contact with the kids and in order for them to hear you amidst the inevitable racket they will be causing. If you are shooting with a single-lens reflex camera, it is best to use a normal 50mm lens with good light power. Use it with wider aperture settings and high shutter speed to produce portraits with a nicely blurred background while freezing the constant movement of the kids. Of course, if you have a lens with longer focal length you can try to shoot from afar without being noticed. Sometimes the most interesting photographs of children are those where the photographer was unnoticed and managed to capture some unposed moments of their play or everyday happenings..

FujiFilm S5Pro, Nikkor 80-200/2.8
Nikon D3S, Nikkor 80-200/2.8
Sony A7iii, Sony 85/1.8
Pentax Optio WP – a small waterproof amateur class camera which can take great photos under water.
Pentax K-X, Pentax 18-55

For this type of photography it is good to use digital cameras with tilting display which you can use to compose your photo while shooting from different viewing angles. If you are shooting the portrait of a child with a compact digital camera, use the longest focal length of the lens with maximum aperture to produce a blurred background. This is necessary because with digital cameras the actual focal lengths of the lenses are small and this effect is difficult or sometimes even impossible to reproduce.

Canon 5D III, Canon 135/2
Children in the classroom, Laos, Canon 5D III, Canon 24-85/3.5-4.5