Recently, I got a chance to spend a day in the park with some of my closest friends. Most of them have kids and I thought that it would be a perfect scenario to see what I can come up with in terms of creating some childhood memories for them.
Photographing children is not the easiest of tasks. It is a lot easier to catch them doing what they usually do in their spare time rather than lining them up for a portrait. Running, crawling, throwing and jumping are the activities that kids will most likely be doing in the park. I knew that I had the whole afternoon to get the shots that I was looking for. In the end everything went according to plan.
When we got to the park, the kids were full of energy. Some of the older ones were running with the ball or playing catch as the youngest one was crawling in the grass and exploring the nature. So eager to get up and run, he could not, but that is not something that is going to last much longer. If I wanted to get everyone together for a portrait, now would be a bad time. I thought that I would stay away and let kids be kids. I grabbed my Canon 70-300mm f4 lens and positioned myself in places where I could comfortably get up close to the action as well as zoom out for those team action shots. It was a sunny day, but I still wanted to make sure that my camera would be able to freeze the action. To do that, I shot most of the day at ISO 320-640. With this sensitivity my shutter speed allowed me freeze some interesting expressions and stances of the older kids at play. The action with the little crawler was a bit harder to catch. He was constantly on the move and would only stop for a second, just to turn away from me and start off in a different direction. I had to reposition myself several times to catch his attention by making noises. Once he stopped and looked up, I only had a few seconds to take my shots. If I got my settings wrong at that point, it would be too late to change anything. Luckily I didn't.
Just as I thought, in the second part of the afternoon things slowed down a bit and it was time for me to change into my 50mm f1.4. As an ideal portrait lens, it helped me capture the kids’ faces with more of an artistic glow, using my shoe flash and the warm rays of the sun to my advantage.
The most important thing that I have learned on this trip is that you have to be prepared for anything. Knowing the location, the time and the weather gave me a big advantage. If you don't have any kids handy to try and achieve the following results of your own, you can try the same tactics on adults. Stay away, and see what happens. This won't guarantee cute and adorable subjects (most of the time), but you will be creating a memory none the less.
Be quick about it, otherwise he will just crawl away with your back to you.
As long as we are having fun
Once the sun is starting to set, use it to your advantage. It's better than any studio lighting. The fact that the ball was able to reflect some of the light back also created this cool lighting situation.
If you can't get their attention and shoot at the same time. Have someone stand behind you and distract, it will create a nice off camera look.
Selective focus is really important. It gives you a nice deapth of field. I like to pick a point of focus and stick to it I can move the camera to frame the shot the way that I want to and make sure my focus point is where I want to be. This was shot with a 50mm at f1.4.
Get down to their level, there is a whole new world down there :)
As you can see from my portfolio this was not a typical day of shooting for me. I really enjoyed it and I think I will make these outings a regularity.
I would like to thank my friends Adam and Mathew for allowing me to capture their smiles.