Hints and tips from Philip Grosset

Children sucking straw

Very small children soon forget about the camera, but it is still very much worth while to set up activities which really immerse them, so as to catch them, as here, when they are fully occupied with what they are doing. You can tell that this was specially set up by the inclusion of the hand seen holding up the drink in the bottom of the photo on the left. Crop the bottom of the picture so that the hand isn't seen (as on the right), and you could conceal the fact that it was staged. Come down at least to the children's level to take a photo like this, or you'll over-emphasise the tops of their heads. Photo by Tim Grosset.

Although it's often best to show children busy about their activities, there can be times when it's perfectly reasonable to photograph them looking straight into the camera (and even saying, "Cheese"!). At least you'll see them clearly and are less likely to catch them off-guard or pulling funny faces. On the left, the light colors capture the mood of the occasion. The aim of this photo was to show their missing teeth. On the right, the vignette effect removes unnecessary background. Photos by Tim Grosset.
Twins no teeth
Boy with green tongue Girl reacting
Don't just take specially posed shots, but try to catch your subject off-guard. Here the boy has just been enjoying a bright green iced lolly. The above two photos are quite unrelated, but benefit from being mounted alongside each other.

Baby with messy face
Babies can offer many opportunities for amusing photos, but be sure to get in close enough to see them really clearly.

Boy crawling
Try to obtain really characteristic shots, Here the boy is rather pleased with himself as he is managing to clamber over a chair. His straight look at the camera communicates directly to us.
It can be a good idea with all portraits to arrange for your subject to be facing a little away from the camera, but turning to look at it, as here, and it is more flattering if you look up at him/her from slightly below.

Boy under chair
A camera or compact phone that you can always have with you is particularly useful for capturing off-the-cuff photos like this one of the boy hiding under a chair. As always with small children, you've got to be prepared to wriggle about on the floor!

When taking portraits, try to take more than one picture so that you don't catch someone blinking but get a choice of expressions as shown below.
Girl 1 Girl 2 I chose to keep just the second photo. Below, I've enlarged the most relevant part of it, and digitally removed the cables and bars of the swing on which the girl was sitting, as well as the slightly distracting light area of the sky in the left background.
Girl 4
Girl 4
Girl 6
Girl 5
The most pleasing photos are often taken when children are totally immersed in what they are doing. The bright colours add to the appeal.

A great advantage of digital photos is that you can take many photos at no cost. If your camera has a burst control, allowing you to take a whole series of photos in quick succession, this can be very useful when taking action pictures like these when you are bound to get some blurred results - unless your camera allows you to use a very short exposure.

And here's a useful tip from a correspondent who used to take lots of child and wedding photos: "I always tried to take children in their own home where they seemed the most at ease, and my only 'prop' was a canister of soap mix and a bubble blowing ring. The amazing expressions I caught on film were a picture, (pardon the pun). If a soap bubble was also caught in frame the colors only added to the effect." (Bernard J Murphy)

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