Rebekah Alexander, visual storyteller living in North Georgia, expressing peoples truths through photography. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. I like my coffee strong. I’ve never met a stranger. Im an art junkie. My favorite past time is napping. I could talk about art history until your ears bleed. Cats love me.
5 Tips for Photographing Boys
Do you struggle to get great shots of your son? Do you want to forget the formal children’s poses? Does he pout and grouch when you ask him to sit still and smile? Heres a few tips on how to embrace boys being boys and documenting those details that make your little one so unique.
All parents want those sweet smiles and straight back pictures to hang on the fridge, but 99.9% of the time our kids are 1. throwing dirt, 2. head down into toys, or 3. running too fast to catch up. Can I get an amen? Phew *deep breath*, I’m tired too sister.
When we embark on a mission to get great photography of our kids, its good to remember to get on their level and experience whatever has caught their attention for the brief moment. I think what is important is to capture a moment thats authentic, less “candid” more authentic.
Photography, to me, is documentation. If we can learn to document our kids without asking them to produce a certain look, then we as moms and photographers have to be intentional with our cameras to get the best perspective offered. By not changing the environment or directing in any way we take the chance of capturing our boys in their “natural habitat” so to speak, and we truly become storytellers.
- Try not to control or change the environment
- Get on their level / its all about the details
- Multitask: play, interact, shoot
- Be intentional with your clicks
- Authenticity vs. candid
No. 1 try not to control or change the environment
Start by letting go of control, we all have a difficult time with this, but with photography if we accept the imperfections and allow our environment to “stage” itself for us, we can work more on our composition, lighting, perspective, emotion, or connections and less on perfection. If we try not to control or change the environment, we allow ourselves to work within the boundaries set for us. Some of my favorite photographs of my boy are the ones where I did nothing but be present, standing in the lake above him as he splashed and kicked, or following him around the yard at sunset as he chased his cat with a hairbrush. Document your daily life and you will capture the ordinary magic of childhood.
No. 2 Its all about the detail / get on their level
Get close! Get down on their level. Seriously, your son or kids are always up in your face, so invade theirs with your lens. Zoom if you have zoom, step up if you have a fixed lens. Focus on the tangles of the hair, the dirt on the hands, the untied shoelaces, or hot wheel car they are playing with. Details really show personality and give the viewer more “oomph”.
No. 3 Multitasking: play, interact, shoot
This is huge. We must play with our little ones to open them up, let them run wild and chase them, play peek-a-boo, go down the slide with them at the park, get your feet wet with mud, crouch down and examine bugs or flowers, and have your camera ready for some sweet expressions they have during these times spent together. Boys will be boys, so lets have our cameras ready when they run to us.
No. 4 be intentional with your clicks
I think the best way to practice intention with photography is to go old school with film. You’ve got to manually adjust your settings, only have 24 frames/exposures per roll, and have to be aware of your lighting, subject, and timing. Theres a few ways to study this without bringing out the dusty polaroid. Limit yourself to a time frame and 5 shutter clicks. Follow your little one around for 25 minutes while they explore and imagine you only have 5 frames to fill, what are the five most important qualities you’d like to express? What five frames can explain your surroundings? What five frames can tell a story? What is the story of today? This might be an exercise to kickstart shooting from the heart, intentional and eye catching images.
No. 5 Authenticity vs. Candid
My son started walking towards the barn in our backyard (yes, we live on a farm) and I followed him with my camera. When he noticed a tractor coming down the next field over, he completely stopped in his tracks and watched as it drove by, I knew it was a rare opportunity to capture him being still. He was so intrigued by the tractor he actually stood there for over a minute watching it drive by, I think it being close to nap time had something to do with the calmness as well.
I didn’t guide him in any way or ask questions. I quickly thought of what angle I wanted to capture and went with it. This was his true reaction, think of authenticity as documenting “nothing special”. Honestly, he had no huge gummy smile or over-excitement to his surroundings, he simply was being.
So, lets talk authenticity and candid. Authentic is the truth, where as candid is a guided moment that expresses truth. If I had gone after a candid moment I would have pumped him up, example: “Roran oh my gosh look!!! Its a tractor!!” “Roran point to the tractor” “look at me, how cool is that?” The emphasis on guidance would have imposed his reaction and I possibly could have gotten a smirk. I think both are good options, but I believe that focusing on authentic moments gets us one step closer to telling stories of our kids. As Click it Up a Notch says – ” Capture them just doing what they do!”