Written by Samantha Stortecky
Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been shooting film for years, making children the subject of your photography can be intimidating at times. Kids are squirmy, they run around, and they can burst into tears at the drop of a hat. And when you’re shooting film and the thought that every single image is costing you money, the intimidation and stress can grow even higher.
When I first started my journey with film, I refused to photograph my kids. After a few failed attempts, it seemed like every image was blurry or someone had a stank face. Not cool. So, I ended up shying away from documenting my kids and stuck with photographing things that didn’t move like flowers and landscapes.
Once I got more comfortable in my ability as a film photographer, I was able to overcome the fear of wasting film and start finding ways to document my children. Even though kids can sometimes prove to be difficult subjects to work with, the images can be amazing when you’ve got a few tips in your pocket that can help you make the most of any situation while photographing kids.
I’ve been photographing kids on film for years and during that time I’ve been able to learn a trick or two on how to make the process less intimidating and dare I say… fun! Today I’m sharing my top 3 tips for photographing children on film!
1. Get on Their Level
Both physically and mentally! I find that when you crouch down or get on your knees when photographing children, it makes you more approachable as a photographer and kids are more likely to respond positively to someone who is on their level. When you are eye to eye with children, it’s much easier to crack a joke and get them to smile.
Not only should you physically get on their level, but you should also get there mentally, too! Most of the kids I photograph always respond to silliness and an abundance of fart jokes. Being extra silly and over the top usually results in the best authentic smiles from kids. Just makes sure your camera is always ready to go so you don’t miss those perfect smiles!
2. Bribery and Distractions
I am not too proud to bring a few pieces of candy in my pocket in order to get at least a few good shots! This works particularly well in keeping the attention of the kids that you’re photographing. Whenever you notice that they’re starting to get antsy or want to run away, just remind them about the reward that is waiting for them at the end of all the torturous photo taking. Kids typically need something to look forward to, whenever my kids groan about having to take pictures, I always promise them a cupcake or piece of candy. It hasn’t failed me yet!
If you’re dealing with children that are younger and don’t get the concept of earning a reward, use the art of distraction! Calling names, loud silly noises, and even squeak toys are wonderful ways of gaining a little kid’s attention. I even used to blow spit bubbles in order to get my eldest to laugh when she was still a toddler.
3. Remove Pressure
Often, you’re going to get kids who cry, wiggle, refuse to laugh, or if you’re lucky, all the above. So, the best way to approach shooting children with film is not to stress about it. Whenever I take images of my own kids or anyone else’s kids, I make sure that I can get at least ONE good smiling image at the very beginning of the session and that’s it. Once you remove the pressure of making every single image perfect, you can really allow yourself to have the freedom to photograph and get creative in the way that works for you.
No matter what your images turn out to be, whether blurry or with someone crying, just remember that you’re documenting these children in the most authentic and honest way you can. Every image is a moment from their life, no matter what the image looks like. When I let go of the pressure to make every single image perfect, that’s when I really started to see my images of my children really start to blossom into something beautiful! Yes, a good chunk of photography is the talent to know when to take an image and what constitutes as a perfect moment, but I can tell you that some of my favorite images I’ve taken of my kids have been pictures that were complete accidents! So, let go of the stress and start snapping away!
I hope this has helped you guys out and remember that shooting film shouldn’t feel intimidating, it should be fun!! Kids can be some of the best subjects to capture because their energetic and genuine personalities always makes for some terrific shots!
Thank you so much, Samantha! Samantha is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out her other articles here, including 4 Quick Tips for Shooting Better Landscapes on Film and Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Camera Review. You can also check out more of Samantha’s work on her website, business Instagram, or personal Instagram.
Leave your questions about photographing children on film below in the comments!
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