Photographing Children’s Events

A couple of notes from spending Sunday afternoon taking photos at a children’s Christmas party, complete with visit from Santa.

1. The event started at 1:30 and went until 3:30. I got there at 1, got myself set-up, checked out the layout of the room and took a couple of test snaps, to check the lighting in the room, etc. Thankfully, the folks in charge had their kids there, and their kids were great, so I could experiment a little bit. I checked the lighting in and around where the kids would sit on Santa’s lap, and had a good idea of what I was up to. I was pretty proud of myself. as we closed in on 3 o’clock though, the lighting had really changed. The time of day change meant a lower sunlight coming in the windows of the room, the stack of presents that started out obscuring some of that light had dwindled down and was obscuring much less of it, etc. Conditions changed, and I had to make some changes on the fly, and try something different than what I had tested. The results were mixed, as expected, but I made sure to shoot more during this time and in different ways, to try and get the best results.

2. Kids are fast, and have the attention span of a gnat. When you see a candid you want to capture, shoot fast, shoot now, or you missed it. Having two cameras, one on a tripod, helped. I didn’t have to put one down and grab another, or switch lenses.

3. Kids make the best faces, but you have to get close to really capture the expressions. A zoom lens helped, but just getting in there, on the ground and being one of them to some extent, helps more. Seriously, if you have a small baby crawling around on the floor, what’s the best vantage point to photograph him? Not standing!

4. A tripod set-up also helps people realize you’re there. I had a lot fewer people walking in front of the shot when they could easily see exactly where I had “staked out” my spot, as opposed to wandering around. Even if I did turn away from the tripod to use the zoom and capture something, my area was my area, and even most of the kids seemed to be respectful of that, even the ones who wanted to come over and see what I was doing.

I was happy with the results. I think there’s a good chance that there’s at least a decent photo of some sort of just about every kid who was there, though I don’t know that for sure, and can’t really verify that. I think that’s all any parent could ask for, especially since I volunteered to do this. They should get to see the results later this week, I hope they won’t be too harsh! Unfortunately, I won’t be sharing any of them on-line, for obvious reasons. So you’ll just have to take my word for it!

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  1. Joe, as I often say when comparing the way I shoot to the way my wife does, she can afford to be a bit less exacting because she has actual Photoshop-like software skills. I have to be much more careful to get it right because I’m not as good with the software in cleaning them up later! 🙂

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