Thursday, May 29, 2008

Photographing Kids

Kids are great to photograph, right?
They are unpretentious, they are sincere and -- if you can get the right kid -- they are wonderful subjects.
On the flipside, you need to forge a personal bond with them, some kind of relationship, that allows them to be comfortable in front of a camera and natural in all they do. It's that "naturalness" you are trying to capture in that split second the camera gives you to take the shot.
If you planned to take a picture of an adult, you would take the time to invest yourself in getting to know them, right? It's no different for kids. You need to take time to kibbitz with them, to get to know them and then the great gates of images open.
I spent close to half an hour with the child in this picture. She happens to be my granddaugher, but the fact that I was sitting on my porch, taking picture after picture may have served to make the whole picture taking process more difficult. The photographer, whether they are photographing children or adults, needs to realize that the camera itself is a barrier to interacting with the subject. It's a great black block of matter that shows them to the world. While it's true that kids are less likely to flinch in the face of the lens, it's also true that, as an artist, you are looking for a way to present that youthful presence to an audience.
In this particular picture, she was walking away and then turned to say something to me over her shoulder. I captured the image here and so the image is held here in that second.
Take time to understand the subject of your portrait. Try to capture them in that fraction of a second where they show you who they are. Respect them as complete people.
For this picture, I copied my layer and then converted the picture to black and white. Then I worked on the Opacity, reducing the blend between the two to 50%. This adds a nice "hand tinted" look to the photo -- predominantly on the dress and hair highlights.
The picture was then flattened and framed and we're done.