How You Can Move to the Head of the Class-Part 3: Five Tips for Taking Better Photos of Kids in the Classroom
Move to the Head of the Class: Tips for Kid Lit Author School Visits-Part 3
Five Tips for Taking Better Photos of Kids in the Classroom
PART 1: Six Steps to Ace Your Author School Visits
PART 2: 10 Kid Lit Pros Share Secrets to Move You to Head of Class
PART 3: Five Tips for Taking Better Photos of Kids in the Classroom
PART 4: School Visit Giveaways on a Shoestring
To make the most of your time with children, take plenty of pictures.
And take your classroom photo skills to the next level, I turned to friend and professional photographer Carmela Dutra for advice.
No matter if you click with a fancy camera or a smartphone, she shares five tips for snapping that perfect photo.
Switch your camera’s shooting mode to Continuous. When you’re getting some good shots, keep the button pressed to fire several shots in succession, and you’ll be more likely to capture a winner. You’ll also need lots of memory on your card, especially if you’re shooting raw format files (I don’t shoot in raw, but that’s my preference).
Photographing children is something that many photographers say should be avoided at all costs! I disagree. While it’s fair to say that child photography can be challenging, it doesn’t need to be a painful experience. Capturing the magic of an exploding smile, the furrowed brow of a child in thought, or that mischievous grin far outweighs the risks of tears and tantrums.
Here’s how you can capture memorable moments of children at school, in the library, or at book-signings.
1. Remove the stress
Create a natural environment that rewards you with winning shots. Most importantly, you need to be relaxed. Children sense when you’re nervous. If you want them to be relaxed, you have be that way, too.
2. Forget about formal settings
Posed shots aren’t ideal for taking portraits of children that express their personalities. For natural-looking shots, you want a casual environment in which children can simply play and be themselves. While they’re playing, you’ll capture those candid images. The classroom is perfect for candid shots because kids will already be in their own zone coloring, reading, laughing, etc.
3. Set exposures ahead of time
Before you do anything, make sure the camera’s exposure settings are sorted out. If you’re fiddling with dials or scrolling through menus in the middle of the shoot, you run the risk of missing the shot, and the children will lose interest in the whole event. Time is of the essence; use it wisely!
The settings you’ll need are similar to those you’d use for shooting sports or action photography. Use a fast shutter speed (such as 1/125 sec or faster) to avoid movement blur.
Don’t compromise on this – if you have to increase your ISO to 400 or 800, do so: your camera can handle it. A wide aperture, such as f/2.8, helps you achieve a fast shutter speed and creates a shallow depth of field, which will throw the background out of focus. This can be a useful way to de-clutter a distracting background. Depending on your lens, it can also introduce some striking bokeh effect.
4. Get the shot
Once the exposures are set, start by playing a game or engage in an activity, so kids get used to you. Don’t bring out your camera until everyone’s spirits are high. However, keep it nearby so you can grab it when you need to.
Once everyone’s having fun, get your camera and fire off a couple of shots. A winning shot isn’t all about big smiles with the subject looking the camera –a contemplative shot of a child concentrating on a game or enjoying lunch can be just as engaging.
5. Always check school policies
One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you: check with the teacher first. You want to make sure that you have the correct understanding on guidelines, procedures, and school policy about taking photos of children.
You won’t be able to take headshots of the children without parental consent. Many many teachers have a 'do not photograph' list, so you'll know to avoid taking any pictures of students on that list. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get nice pictures. Focus on their hands while drawing, or get a shot of the classroom while the kids are occupied.
Now you know my secrets for classroom photography.
Good luck with yours!
Connect with Carmela Dutra
Photographer, Illustrator, and Author of the Lorenzo the Bear Series
Website | Twitter
Coming Next in this Blog Series
Part 4: Kid Lit pros share tips
for giveaways on a shoestring budget.
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