Anyone who has ever tried to capture the perfect photo of a young child can tell you it isn’t easy. There’s a reason the comedian W.C. Fields famously said “Never work with children or animals.” Children are at any given moment inquisitive, giggly, talkative, shy, tearful, obstinate, disinterested, curious, active, sleepy . . . and this could be a description for one child! A local expert provides tips for photographing children.
Jen Vacca of Zoot Shoot Photographers has been a professional photographer on Long Island for over 20 years, and in that time has photographed thousands of children. One of the most common questions parents ask her is “How do you get such great pictures of kids?” Here are her favorite tips for capturing precious moments with little ones:
Start shooting as soon as you see a glimpse of a smile – Vacca calls this the “up-smile.” If you wait for a full smile to snap the picture, it will be gone before it can be captured. As soon as you suspect your child is going to give that killer smile, start shooting away!
Never ask a child to smile – Asking a child to smile will result in a “Toddlers in Tiaras” type cheesy grin. The most beautiful smiles are natural and don’t look forced. Instead try asking your child to say a particular word that will make him or her giggle or at least result in his or her mouth get into the right position. The word “stinky” usually works. Or try telling him or her not to say “green” – that one usually gets amazing giggles!
Children of different ages process at different rates – Things can get tricky when you are trying to photograph children of different ages. A 2 or 3 year old will process things slower than an older child, so it’s inevitable that he or she will say “green” a few seconds after the older child says it, resulting in a photo where not everyone is smiling. To make sure that everyone smiles at the same time, try making a gas noise with your mouth. After, put a shocked look on your face and say “Who did that!?” (it helps if you are not shy when photographing children). Kids need to have fun when being photographed so do what it takes to get that belly laugh and twinkle in their eyes.
Don’t be afraid to change up your point of view – Shooting at a child’s level is very important but don’t forget to switch it up a bit. Shoot right above them, coming at you or from below. If there is shade use it to your advantage.
It can be difficult to capture the precise image you’d like to preserve. Whether it’s a particular pose, a funny face your child makes or a hug between siblings, getting that million dollar portrait can be a lot of work. Vacca hopes these insider tips encourage you to snap away. You never know when you might freeze forever a beautiful memory for a lifetime!
Jen Vacca at Zoot Shoot Photographers has been Long Island’s premier family photographer for over 20 years. You can find Zoot Shoot Photographers at her beautiful Northport studio, on Facebook, and on Pinterest.
Photo Credits: Zootshoot.net