I am thrilled to have my family portrait photography featured in the August 2018 edition of Practical Photography magazine! Practical Photography is the UK's best-selling photo magazine giving tips, advice, inspiration and equipment reviews for both professional and amateur photographers. This is the second time I have been featured by the magazine; the first being in the November 2017 edition for my sought-after pregnancy photography.
My interview in the magazine this time is part of a larger article about how to capture perfect summer portraits; from newborn babies, through boisterous kids and intimate family gatherings. I give my professional insights into the family photography business and my top tips for taking amazing child and family photos. Here's some extracts from the feature:
Challenges of photographing kids
One of the most technically demanding aspects of a photoshoot is photographing two-or three-year-olds that are running around all over the place, or being thrown up into the air by a parent. I love to shoot wide open to create a soft, bokeh-filled background. However, the margin for error is very small with such a narrow plane of focus and a fast moving child. It is very challenging keeping the eyes in sharp focus in these shooting conditions - especially if the scene is also heavily backlit - but achieving this is something that has come with practice and lots of experience.
What gear do you shoot on?
I have always used Nikon camera gear for my photography. My go-to lens is my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 on my Nikon D750 camera body. I love this long zoom lens for its compression, shallow depth of field and the way I can get in close to my subjects’ faces unobtrusively! Often I find kids can be somewhat unsure at the beginning of a shoot when they have just met me, and the 70-200m lens really helps to give them space. Once they have warmed up then I often switch to my 50mm lens later in the session. My D750 is amazing in low light and finding focus even in heavily backlit conditions. I only use natural light so I’m rarely without my reflector to bounce soft light back onto the subject.
How planned out are your photoshoots?
My shoots are relatively unplanned - apart from timing and location. I also help clients choose their wardrobe, but otherwise I will adapt the shoot itself to the mood and personality of the kids and go with the flow. Sometimes this means getting in some more 'posed' family portraits early on in the session before a boisterous child gets too overexcited, or sometimes it means letting a more shy child explore the area and play with their parents whilst they get used to me and the camera. There are also nap times to consider and kids' attention spans. I usually work on the basis that 20 minutes into a session is the sweet spot - after 45 minutes nearly every child or baby has gown tired of all the games and high energy of a shoot.
Tips for amazing child photos
Consider colour: It's best to avoid very bright clothing in primary colours, which can reflect a colour cast back onto the child's skin. Likewise bold patterns and logo t-shirts are a distraction away from their face and expressions.
Keep it natural: Never ask kids to smile or say cheese! I try to capture genuine happy, cheeky and playful expressions by having the parents engage and play with the kids. The best photos are not always the ones with kids smiling directly at the camera. I love photos where kids are fascinated by stones or picking grass with a more thoughtful vibe which show the child's personality.