Whenever we get together with family or friends who have kids it's always fun to try and capture at least a few candid shots of the kids. Kids can go from being very expressive and animated to being very quiet and subdued, almost reflective. They can show emotions without being asked; however, you need to be ready to capture those moments. Here are a few things that I have learned (some of them the hard way) that might help you to capture these moments (in no particular order):
- Get down to their level; put yourself in their environment (usually means sitting or lying on the floor). Shooting from above can produce a somewhat unnatural perspective.
- Control your depth of field. I like to shoot candids wide open (i.e. large aperture - small f-stop number) so I can really separate the subject from the background. Shooting wide open will also help in low light situations.
- Crop in tight to avoid any distracting background elements and don't be afraid to cut off the top of the head a little; this is a popular composition technique.
- Figure out the best exposure settings for your environment before shooting and lock them in. If you have to keep changing them over and over again you'll risk losing a special moment. Remember, small exposure blips can be fixed in post, large ones not always.
- Always keep your eye to the viewfinder, know where your focus point is and be ready to fire the shutter. Lots of things can happen in that split second when you take your eye away. I have missed my fair share of good shots because of this.
I was tracking my nephew from toy to toy trying to get a decent shot (he's usually non-stop motion). Then he sat down at his little table, put his head on his arms and gave me this look. I already had my eye on the viewfinder and finger on the shutter - I was also glad to see that I had my flash turned on, too. One of my favourites. In case you're wondering, he wasn't quiet for very long.
( Nikon D300, 24-70mm, 1/60 @ f2.8, ISO800)
This was shot from above, but it was the only chance I had so I took it. I really liked his expression.
( Nikon D300, 24-70mm, 1/125 @ f4, ISO400)
My nephew was crawling towards me and when he was close enough he reached out to grab the lens. I got the shot; then cleaned my lens.
(Canon Rebel XT, 17-85mm, 1/60 @ f5, ISO400)