They say never….
They say never work with children or animals and most people that work in professions related to either of these areas would strongly concur.
Though everyone knows the joy of seeing a photograph of a young child playing in puddles after the rain or a soft puppy or kitten dancing around in pursuit of a favourite toy. It is in those incredibly rare moments that it seems that the gods are smiling on the photographer. Of course those moments are illusory as getting a fantastic photograph is all about hard work.
That said, photographing children or animals takes a certain kind of photographer, especially when the said children or animals do not want to be co-operative. So what is the best approach to photograph these notoriously difficult subjects?
Toddlers and animals have particularly short attention spans and the art of photographing them lies in the approach. Speed is also of the essence, as children tend to be less tolerant than a boiling kettle.
Physically bringing yourself down to a child or animals level is a major advantage in breaking down a child’s resistance or animal’s fear of being photographed. Making a game of being photographed can result in great natural shots and the intimacy between the photographer and the subject can account for some of the most beautiful photographs ever taken. Using a 35mm to 50mm lens is another hint that is helpful in keeping your subject at a reasonable distance, so as to avoid grubby hands or slobber all over your camera gear. And while rolling around the floor with a muddy toddler or puppy may not sound like it would be great for your dignity it is a very credible way of achieving a fabulous shot!
Of course this trick works with domesticated children and animals but it certainly is not ideal if you wanted to photograph lions, cheetahs and leopards in the wild!
While photographing very young babies might be rewarding for some, it can also be extremely difficult until they have reached about six months old as they are generally unable to sit unassisted. Though new mothers are always grateful to receive a beautiful print of their newborn as a christening present so having a few strategies for photographing this age group is always handy.
Swaddling a very young baby in a beautiful cloth and lying them against a supportive parental arm can create a gorgeous photo. This is one case where flesh can be revealed as the texture of a baby’s skin against that of its parent’s skin is a glorious contrast. The trick is compose the image very tightly so frame the photograph around baby and just leave a bit of the parents arm in the image. The best light for this kind of photograph is natural so working next to a window on a bright day would be ideal.
Working with kids and animals can be the hardest of all photography but there is nothing quite like a photograph that captures that incredible innocence of little animals and children at play.