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How to Shoot Children's Photos, Painlessly

It takes all kinds to take pictures. If you're in art or design school and plan on a career in photography you'll enjoy many career options, including commercial photography, fashion, advertising, photojournalism, or portrait work. Portrait photography can be rewarding and enjoyable. There are family sittings, graduations, weddings, and shoots for babies and children.

Child photography brings its unique set of challenges. For one thing, the subjects are not always the most cooperative. They cry, wander out of the line of focus, and generally have a hard time posing. But for those who love working with kids and infants, the work can be exhilarating and profitable. Here are some tips for getting it right when you have youngsters in the mix:

Play is Part of the Action
Kids look happy when they ARE happy. Be sure to prepare your workspace for fun, and bring fun props if you're visiting a home for the shoot. If you're shooting babies, you'll find that noisy toys, rattles, and sparkling objects can evoke a grin. Toddlers like playing catch. Toss a ball back and forth and shoot during their reaction time. Older tots (2-5 years) are restless and need things to hold. Bring an old magazine with lively pictures that they can look at. Lollipops are great rewards--if the parents allow it. Consider activity shots rather than stark poses. Work fast, shoot lots of images.

Patience Pays
All kids have mood swings. Some won't take to the sitting right away. Give them time to warm up. Rants and crying fits will pass. Take pictures of a parent while the kids are disturbed to show them how it works, that it's painless and fun, and that everyone has their picture taken. Vary your approach, make faces, have a parent stand next to you, play fun music in the background. Kids will pick up on your mood. If you're frustrated, they're frustrated. If you smile and laugh, it's infectious.

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