Problems and Things to Watch Out For

ealy_ZionVacation2009_Final_SEPhotographing kids is a lot of work. The youngest I shot for this project was 1 and the oldest about 22 years old. But get this, even the 20 & 22 year olds were some of the most difficult to shoot. But for entirely different reasons than the 1 year old. With the toddler the biggest issue was just keeping up with him. He is one of these kids that moves very fast, and is interested in everything. So even though I had the mighty 24-70 f/2.8 Nikkor and the D700 I was still having trouble keeping the focus on him. Surprisingly it seemed that it was more difficult shooting the teenagers and young adults.

The biggest problem with the older kids was a combination of simple teen apathy and some lack of confidence/self-image issues. I found it most frustrating to spend time photographing someone, then asking which of their photos they like the best only to hear, “none of them”, or worse “I don’t care”. When this type of thing happened it was always towards the beginning of the shoot. Luckily things got better as time progressed. Though with the oldest two kids I had to actually re-shoot them before they actually got more into the project, put some effort into making pleasing photos, and then finally began to appreciate that some of the images I took of them were actually pretty nice. So, what did I take from all of this? For starters, just be prepared for indifference or even worse when dealing with some kids. But remain positive and try to figure out what is necessary for them to take an interest in the shoot. Because if they aren’t into it, making good photos is just a hard thing to do. During that first night with my most difficult subjects there was just nothing I could do to get them liven up and buy into this project. I was able to coax one good picture from one of them that night, but he hated it (his mother and I overruled him on that one and that photo made it into the final product).

Another thing that I learned from this is that you can’t depend on people to show up to a photo shoot properly dressed, groomed and coiffed. So I after that first shoot I made a point of telling parents what type of clothes I was expecting, suggesting that the parent be involved in prepping hair, and generally just forcing a pleasant presentation of their child. This all kinda feeds into the idea that you want the subject to have total buy-in for the photo shoot. So when working with kids it is probably worthwhile to talk with them before the shoot trying to get them to understand that good photos just don’t magically appear. This is especially true in a portrait setting. I guess people kind of expect that since sometimes good photos happen just naturally while out and about when people are interacting with one another with a photographer snapping here and there capturing candid moments, that the same thing will happen in a portrait setting. Well there will be no candid moments in when sitting in front of a backdrop surrounded by lights stands, and all by oneself. At least there won’t be unless you can get the subject to become totally relaxed and forget about the camera (which is pretty difficult when the photographer is standing there saying move half a step to the left, tilt you head back, smile a bit less, and look just over my left shoulder).

Next: More things to watch out for

One Response to “Problems and Things to Watch Out For”

  1. Hi,
    Sorry about contacting you here, but I couldn’t find a way to email you. I’m contacting you because I saw your post on luminous landscape about a printer problem you were having back in december 2009 with your epson 1400 printer and how long it took to go through the process before the photo would even start printing. I’m having this exact same issue. At first it was the print preview problem that everyone was having but I stopped using it but now it takes forever for the communication between going from the photo setting to actually printing. I was wondering if you found out what was making it happen and if you found a good solution. Thank you for any help you can give me.
    Maggie Terlecki
    chezeury.com

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