Ian and I played yesterday. He had blocks and trains. I had my camera.
I was brave. I put my camera in Manual mode. I have been using AV mode for awhile, setting how much blur I want in the background and letting the camera figure out the rest. It works for me. But with my long hours of resting, I kept reading about the opportunities of controlling all of your camera settings. So I figured I would play while Ian played. And it started making sense!
I had challenges because my room is trashed- so many piles over the past month. So I had to frame compositions just so. I love to tighten in when kids play anyway. I love catching their little hands. Their bent knees. I love to photograph the details.
With children, I rarely call attention to the camera. Very few, "Look at me" moments. First, it interrupts their play and makes them resentful of the camera. Second, it doesn't let me see their genuine, invested selves. Their intent focus on the game. Their in-between expressions, which often charm me and bring back the best memories years later.
I also don't fuss over perfect framing. Tilts and tipped floors are fine with me. First, I can't move much these day with a cast on my leg. Second, childhood is a little tippy, always moving, never planned. So the photographs share the experience.
I want to play with Manual mode a lot more. They actually worked! I mostly used 1/125, f1.8-4.5, and had to crank the ISO to 1600 or 2000 (not enough light). I fixed the noise in Lightroom. Play is fun!
Six tips for photographing children at play
- Catch the details- little hands, how they sit, favorite toys
- Place toys in a sunny location- set up beforehand. Clean the background (if possible, though that can be part of the charm)
- Let them play- don't call attention to the camera
- Photograph many expressions- concentration, smiles, even frustration
- Try different angles- get on their level, lie on the floor, aim up, allow for playful compositions
- Play with them! Put the camera down, take breaks, ask questions, enjoy time spent well with children :)
Have a playful day :)