kid's photography basicsWhat separates good kids’ portraits from great ones? Sometimes, it’s just a matter of considering the environment and choosing to exclude it, particularly if the surroundings have no bearing on the photo.

Include Background in Kids’ Portraits?

Here’s a practical example for illustration purposes. You’re at Disneyland/Disneyworld (or theme park of your choice) with your kids and want to take a shot of them enjoying the park. Here you would typically include something in the background to indicate they are having fun at the amusement park – such as the castle or a ride. Something to remember the trip by.
The next week you’re in the park and want to take a few more kids’ portraits – do you need to include the whole park? No, here you would simply zoom in or move closer to put more emphasis on your child, rather than the surroundings. You can choose to include a little of the background (blurred) simply to add a sense of place or some color.

kids' portrait tipsHow to Decide Whether to Get Close

Ask yourself, does including the surroundings add to the photo, or take away from it? If the surroundings or background help to tell a story about where your kids are or what they are doing, then include it – otherwise leave it out.

It’s always best to try to get your kids’ portrait right in camera if possible, rather than hoping that you can get it right later by cropping or using editing software. That doesn’t mean that you should zoom in on every single photo – try a few portraits of your children that include surroundings, and then a few where you “fill the frame” with their beautiful faces.

tips for kids' portraits

Other Tips for Getting in Close

This technique works well with single-child portraits, multiple people or groups, even pets. It’s also a common technique with food photography – you want to see the food, not what’s around the food! By filling the frame with your subject you are ensuring that everyone knows what the focal point of your image is, rather than having them lost in a busy background.

Exercise: The next time you are in a busy location (park, school, shopping center, etc.) try taking a few kids’ portraits where it’s just them, then pull back and include the surroundings. Check out the difference – which one do you think is a better photo?

Final tip – just because you are “getting close” in kids’ portraits doesn’t mean that you put them smack in the center of the frame (at least not every single time), you still want to use the other composition rules (particularly the rule of thirds) to place them in the frame and create an interesting image. It may take a bit of practice, but you’ll end up with really great photos as a result.

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