How To Be An Ideal Photographer Of Children?

  • It is fatal to be 'fiddling' with gadgets at a time when pictures are liable to be offered. Wherever possible, meter readings should be made in advance. Train yourself to be aware of lighting changes, adjusting the lens a stop or so one way or the other as required. Even at the risk of making an error of exposure, put your meter in your pocket and forget it for a while. More pictures are missed because of a preoccupation with gadgetry than because of technical miscalculations. Practice handling the camera controls until they become almost instinctive. The press-photographer sometimes sets his camera at a predetermined distance, say ten feet, and then endeavors to keep this distance between him and his subject. This method can be handy with children where the magic moment might occur just as you are checking the focus.
     

  • The advantages of the 35 mm. camera for this type of child photography are obvious. But the twin or single-lens reflex is preferred by some people for reasons that may not be so obvious. For instance, these cameras allow you to observe the child while you appear to be looking in quite another direction. You can even turn your back on the child and operate the camera backwards under your arm, or sideways at waist level. You can hold it above your head and use it like a periscope to see over a crowd.
     

  • The 6 x 6 cm reflex camera is more difficult to conceal than the 35 mm. type. Perhaps the best way is to have the camera on a neck strap resting on your chest and partly hidden by a slightly open jacket. Automatic film transport and a quiet shutter are highly desirable.
     

  • The 'electric eye' camera which automatically judges the brightness of the scene and sets the aperture by means of it photo-electric cell will free you from the worry of a technical failure, provided the limitations imposed by this method are fully recognized. For instance, in ‘contre-jour' (against the light) shots, since the exposure will be read over the entire picture area, you are almost certain to get a silhouette of the child against a strongly lit background. If this is not the effect required, it is often possible to develop a technique of half covering the cell window of the meter with a finger in order to increase the exposure for the shadow detail of the face. But this is rather a 'hit-or-miss' method calling for a degree of experiment.
     

  • The ideal photographer of children by the unseen method would obviously be able to render himself invisible. If this is beyond your abilities, you can certainly help by dressing conventionally and without eccentricities, working in a leisurely fashion and keeping your camera out of sight until the very last moment. If the child becomes aware of the camera pointed in his direction, the best thing is to turn the camera away and go through the motions of photographing something else. The child will soon lose interest in you and return to his game. Occasionally the moment of awareness makes the picture.
     

  • Such an occasion was when Leopold Fischer, a Viennese police photographer who has earned a considerable reputation for salon pictures throughout the world, paid a visit to Bergdorf Kals in East Tyrol on the occasion of a religious festival. He noticed an attractive little girl in traditional costume, looking diminutive between adults similarly attired. As he watched, the little girl turned and looked enquiringly at his camera. Fischer took the picture `mit blitzschnell', as he eloquently expressed it.
     

  • The unseen photographer cannot exercise any control over his subject. But he influences the result by choice of angle, background, lighting and moment of exposure. To move the camera a foot to the left or right, up or down, can profoundly alter the mood or impact of the picture. The background should be unobtrusive, but not necessarily blank. Often it is desirable that it suggest a natural environment for the child, as long as this does not compete with the main subject. Strong contrasts of tone and hard lines can be disturbing in the background, especially when the child appears to have a plant growing out of the top of his head or a window sill shooting into his ear.
     

  • A low camera viewpoint will sometimes place the child against the sky.
    The beach provides an effective un-cluttered background from a high angle. Fussy backgrounds, such as with sunlight glinting on dark foliage, should be put out of focus by choosing wider apertures, not forgetting to give a compensating increase in shutter speed. Differential focusing in this manner is often to be preferred with close-up portraits, although in full- length work, the activities of the child must he seen in relationship to the surroundings and therefore depth of focus is necessary.

More About Methods of Approach In Child Photography


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