In an ongoing effort to help you take fantastic images of your kids (and everyone else), today we are going to talk about giving space in child photography. What does this mean, exactly? It’s pretty simple – give some space! Okay, maybe not that simple.
In essence, you never (okay, not never, but most of the time) want to put your subject in the center of an image, it’s boring (again, most of the time). So, you put them off to one side or the other. Giving space means leaving room on the side where your subject is facing. This gives the viewer something to think about – where are they looking, what are they looking at, etc., which in turn creates a more dynamic image.
Is there a particular side you should put the child on, left or right? Not really, although as a culture we are used to “reading” from left to right and take the same approach with images. Just try to put the space on the side where they are looking.
So why can’t you have your subject, for example, facing the right side of the image and put the space on the left? You can, of course, but what happens here is that the person looking at the image follows the eyes out of the frame, and off they go to the next photo. The trick to creating really good images is to give viewers a reason to keep looking; adding space on the side they are looking at tends to help with this goal.
This tip works with all sorts of photography, not just with portraits. For example, if you were taking photos of a race car you would typically leave more space in front of the race car, rather than behind it, for the exact same reason – it’s more interesting to wonder where it’s going than where it’s been.
So the next time you are taking portraits think of this rule and try to apply it. In fact, take a few photos 1) employing the rule (space to move into), 2) breaking the rule (space behind where they are looking) and 3) basic portrait shot (face in the center). See which image you feel works the best. Likely you’ll find that you prefer to use this rule to create your images going forward.
Tip for busy kids: If you can’t get them to hold still long enough to compose your image using this rule, pull back a bit and take the photo, even if it means that they are now closer to center. You can always crop the photo later to leave more space on the side where they are gazing.
Let me know how this tip worked for you!