How to Successfully Photograph Your Childs Outdoor Play
Be Sure to Follow Sixth Bloom
Have you seen…
Hey, everyone!! I’m here to talk a little bit about photographing outdoor play. I’ve spent my fair share of time trying to get my kids to pose for me, and while I am pretty swift at getting other people’s children to pose for me, mine are a different story. I have begged and pleaded, cried, and yelled, and then begged some more, and usually thrown a bribe in here and there. I do usually walk away with a few images I am super pumped about but the process has left me feeling a little defeated at times. In the last couple of years, I have come to accept the fact that things just go a little smoother for ME when I don’t worry about what they’re wearing, or if their hair is perfect, and their faces are clean. Sure, I don’t really want snot dripping down their faces, but if every single picture hanging on my walls is of a dirty, well-played, smiley munchkin, I will die a happy girl! Here are a few tips I have found help me to get the most out of photographing children playing outdoors.
1. Shoot in the shade or in the morning or evening when the lighting isn’t as harsh. I personally prefer to shoot in the evening. I find the light in the morning to be pretty harsh after 10am. That said, we don’t always have the luxury of timing outdoor play when the lighting is best for pictures, so when the lighting isn’t ideal, the first thing I do is try to direct the play to a shady area. A small patch of shade is all you really need, so unless you’re in the desert, you should be good to go! Steer clear of patchy shade like the kind you would get from sparse tree leaves. Unless you are going for something dramatic, you should avoid speckles on faces or the area you are focusing on in the picture. Since photographing play means you are attempting to be less intrusive, finding a spot with ideal lighting will help to eliminate the possibility that you will take a shot you fall in love with everything about, BUT the dark, harsh shadows.
2. Let the kids do their thing! The BEST images I get are the ones that happen without any posing or leading. When I do ask kids to look at me, I try not to stop the play or I will lose the moment. If I am taking pictures of play time on the playground, I may ask my kids to look at me for a minute, but I will not ask them to change their positioning for the sake of an image. If I am taking pictures of them swimming, again, I may ask them to look at me, but instead of asking them to “say cheese”, I may ask them to “blow bubbles” or “jump”. The images I am searching for and hoping for, are those that happen while they’re playing!! The mood quickly changes if I try to lead them away from the moment they are in!
3. Angles, composition, and depth of field. Play with them!! Photographing outdoor play is really story-telling. The idea is to create images that are timeless and evoke emotion or conjure up a memory. You can’t beat a tight crop on chubby knuckle or elbow dimples, or dirty little toes. Find those details you love – no matter what they are and capture those. Then I’ll go the other way…capture the whole scene. I will pull way out and get little tiny children in all their glory with lots of background. Again you are telling a story so let’s see the “stage”. Move around and change positioning, different angles can completely change the feel of an image! You might find that you love them from the front, but from the back it’s like you aren’t even there and that can make it even better!
4. Shoot wide open. Just like I try different angles and tight close ups mixed in with wide full scene shots, opening that aperture up and dropping below 2.0 can give a completely different look and feel. Shooting wide open keeps the focus on your subject. Intense play with objects, capturing those details are even better when the focus is on just that and everything else falls out and blurs.
To understand more about shooting wide open and aperture this article will explain how to master it! Master Aperture and Understand f/stop
5. Bump up that shutter speed!! Even if it means I have to kick up my ISO, I always shoot above 125 with kids, and if I am outside and they are running around, I really prefer it to be above 250. I like crisp images and with as much movement as you tend to get with outdoor play, keeping your shutter speed higher, really makes a difference.
Photographing outdoor play, is hands down my favorite thing to photograph. The smiles that come during play are real, and contagious. So, grab your cameras, and get out there and make some awesome images!
Lorrin Sell Photography
Lorrin Sell has been a professional photographer based out of Johnstown, PA for 6+ years. She is a wife and mother of 4 kids ages 10 to 16 months. She specializes in lifestyle photography of children and families.
Be Sure to Follow Sixth Bloom
Have you seen…