Many who have a passion for photography started their obsession right about the same time they had children. Suddenly, you don't just want to take photos, you need to. You have this little person in your life, who is constantly changing...the moments, the laughs, the milestones...and with photography, you have an opportunity to freeze time. I hope I can give you some tips to help you capture those moments.
When photographing kids, it's important it is in a place that makes them comfortable. Their own bedroom, backyard, a park where they can play, the zoo. Try to chose a place where they can relax and be themselves. You're looking for honest photos that show who they are, that bring out their playful sides, where they can let their guard down, be themselves and show you different sides to their personality.
2) Before I photograph anyone, my own children or others, I make a point of getting comfortable with my subjects. Pulling out a giant camera and lens and sticking it in someone's face is never a good idea. Play around a little bit, get close, interact and once you've established a little bit of rapport, take out your camera. Take a few frames, show the kids the photographs...maybe even let them take a few with your camera. They'll be thrilled to see the results and excited about participating in the process.
3) I love candid photographs. Where children are just being themselves and I'm a fly on the wall who gets a small peek into their lives. A longer lens is perfect for this. I usually use my 70-200 mm and let things unfold. If you're at a park, be patient and let the kids play and just follow what unfolds through your lens. You'll be sure to get some genuine, unstaged moments. Sure, you can help things along by coming up with fun games, bring a ball, set up a game to facilitate interaction, but don't be too intrusive. Some of my favorite photographs of my children were taken when they were just playing and had no idea that I was photographing them at all.
4) Posing a few photographs can be really nice once the child is comfortable of being in front of the camera and you. RESIST the temptation of asking the child to smile. Children learn early on to put on their "cheese" and it's rarely their natural smile. Be playful, ask questions, make jokes, have someone else make jokes, or avoid trying to get certain expressions all together and let it naturally unfold. If a smile comes, great, but a relaxed face is a treat from children who always feel they have to smile for the camera. Remember, you're trying to capture their personality, and children don't always smile, they can also be contemplative, serious, and full of thought and that is just as beautiful as a smile.
6) Simple background is key to good portraits. Avoid messy, distracting surroundings. Clean backgrounds puts the focus on the subject, draws you in into looking at them and only them and not the tree in the background, the pink shirt of the kid running behind them, etc. Harder to accomplish with candids but remember that you can always move and get a better angle.
7) Get down to eye level, or lower. Kids are short and always photographing them from above puts a distance in your photographs. When you get on eye level, you create a more intimate situation.
Most people want their portraits to reflect their nicest looking selves and often we deck out the family in our Sunday best for a photograph. Problem with this is that if your kids are never in a shirt and tie, they'll feel stiff and uncomfortable and the photographs will reflect this. Pick something nice but comfortable. Go for layers, textures, colors that fit their personality and adds to it rather than stifle it. Solid colors work better than patterns, bold colors can really add to a photograph as long as it doesn't compete too much with the subject(s).
10) Be patient, have fun and remember to let the moments unfold. The more you try to force a photograph the more it will evade you. Sometimes the best strategy is to put down your camera and play.
Interact and let others interact. Often kids relax when they are just interacting with their siblings and parents. Capture that!