Photographing a child can be quite a task. You have multiple obstacles to overcome. Today, we will discuss those obstacles and figure out how to make the best of a difficult situation.
Preface to the Shoot
During the week I had to shoot a client and his son. The job was pretty straight forward. He wanted some portraits of the kid and some candid shots of them together. Sounded like cake work to me.
They arrived at the home studio around noon. Surprisingly, they were more prepared than I had anticipated. Both had enough clothing for wardrobe changes. That was something I would not have expected from a family shoot. Most would just bring their child dressed in some awful holiday outfit.
Dad is covered in tattoos, which I thought could accent the photographs in some way. It was an option to shoot a grungy styled photograph. Some photographers would find them repulsive and fear the outcome. Not me. The freakier the better. Freakishness will only add more interest to any photo. He had a wide range of clothing. Dad brought everything from a suit to a very street casual flannel and jeans.
Child, who we will call, Child, had two, very casual outfits. Dad was happy with one but scared to death that the good one would be destroyed by the bag full of Yoo-Hoo drink boxes that he brought along (mmmm Yoo-Hoo). I advised the dad not to worry, that if any small amounts of the chocolaty goodness were to spill on his shirt, I would be able to fix in post processing.
Dad and Child were preparing their wardrobes and hair. My assistant/director/wife and I prepared the set. I didn't want to have much time wasted due to Child's short attention span. Everyone was working efficiently as a team.
Problem Child (ren)
From the beginning, I mentioned the unusualness of shooting a child. So what makes them so unusual? Let me share. First of all, and also mentioned, is Child's and any child's attention span. I'd say that 99.9% of children will not be your easiest subjects to work with. Professional models can be difficult in their own way, knowing more than you, the photographer, in their own mind. Little rug rats are difficult due to the fact that, they simply do not want to listen, to anything (actually just like me). To remedy this first obstacle is easy if you anticipate this problem in advance. Valium (just kidding). The answer is, be prepared. If you, the photographer, have a preconceived notion of how you want to shoot the child, your work will be simplified, exponentially. If you are prepared, you will be able to shoot fast and fast is good in this situation. Fast, on the other hand, does not mean sloppy. A famous quote can explain what I mean: