How I shoot children pt 5 – Being Observant

 077_J7S0568 222_J7S0570

A good photographer is a person who is observant of things and people.

I’m not talking about how they can tell if a hair is out of place or when something is different.

I’m talking about they take in what they’re about to photograph and process it in the mind and heart. They know how to interact and they know how to bring it out on the screen-print.
The kind of observant that understands a person’s personality and knows how to bring it out. Even the positions to put them in. Not just observant of the concepts you as a photographer have in mind… with plans for whatever mannequin that comes your way. The right picture for the right personality.

I always tell students-interns that when they look at a picture on the screen unedited and awaiting it’s destiny…. that we look at the picture not at how it is… but what it can become. (Then we pick our battles because some are more worth our limited time than others… I believe God does the same only he has infinite capacity for us all)

So why not when we’re taking the picture … the subject as who they can become.

Not that we’re gonna change them up and put a bunch of makeup there. But we interact and let them be who they’ll be when not burdened down by our own objectives. I mean we’ve got plenty on the plate already… we want them to be right here because this is our background, and to not move too much because I’m focused just right. And dont’ turn around because we’re fond of your face… So i guess it does sound like a lot of things. But go ahead and do whatever you want. haha

I’m thinking here… equal time, equal awesome place with each child. Me laying on the ground (as I’m prone to do) directing the children to sit just exactly where I want them.

 224_J7S0585 132_J7S0593

Maybe a bit crass for the audience but all I gave was a simple suggestion to show off the dress and hold it to the side… but I guess I’m not to adept at giving directions so this is what we get.

 133_J7S0616 134_J7S0619

A little coaxing from the peanut gallery… a little assurance from my part that he really can do the stuff he wants to do, or the random things we call out. It’s his call and I won’t be upset in the slightest and I’ll make sure his parents don’t talk back for a change.

Being observant is also about listening to their ideas… I find out the dad throws the kids in the air… that’s what we do next. Believe it! (If they’re not throwers and it makes them uncomfortable I wouldn’t even want to do pictures like that)

 226_J7S0621 078_J7S0624

 135_J7S0626 023_J7S0630

They do their thing, they interact, they pose their way… certainly i’m in control of so very much. But it’s all the unspoken stuff that I keep to myself, they don’t need to know about it. They just know that their ideas are welcome and that this particular one i will make awesome and you’re free to be a part of the creative process.

And ready set …. GO!


  1. Sarah says

    Wait…you’ll make sure his parents don’t talk back for a change? Is that possible? I’d like to see you try it 😉 I guess you managed it somehow, because that’s all him!

    There is no way that picture is too crass for the audience. It’s just plain adorable! You captured her chunky little legs and giggly personality. Love it.

    You couldn’t have done a better job capturing their joy and excitement at being thrown in the air by their daddy. It’s one of their favorite things to do. And now we have pictures to go with the memories. Pure awesome. That’s what it is.

  2. Robbie Petersen says

    good ending to this five part series. The main things I learned is to be observant and look to see what the subject can become, look to bring out their personalities and through this process it takes time, its a process sometimes to get where you want to get. That sometimes the simple shots are the most effective and they don’t necessarily need bit sets or props to make the children look interesting

  3. Eric Quinney says

    Patience and time is the key I gathered from this blog post. I don’t think people put enough time in with kids, they think they have to rush so they kids don’t lose thier attention span but it seems like letting them relax and be themselves is the best!

Leave a comment

(required) (will not be published)