Photographing Children Around the World

Part 2

by Jim Zuckerman

MS-525
MS-525
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved
Spontaneous vs. Posed
One of the challenges in photographing children is capturing those wonderful moments when they are oblivious to the camera. Spontaneity is not easy to capture on film. You have to watch them through the viewfinder and wait for that special moment. If I miss a great shot, I never take my eye away from the viewfinder in disappointment or to tell a traveling companion what just happened. I keep watching, because another opportunity will most likely follow quickly.
Sometimes I'll ask the kids to interact with each other, like playing a game or tickling each other. Often, I will see them acting with total abandon, but when I bring out my camera they stop and stand straight as arrows, posing. They don't understand that I want that innocent and uninhibited play, so through an interpreter I ask them to continue what they were doing.

MS-4933
MS-4933
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved
There are times, of course, when I want to capture a child's face in a more thoughtful or pensive moment. Then, I move in close to fill the frame with the young face. I always focus on the eyes, no matter how shallow my depth of field is. With a tight close up, the background is almost irrelevant because it is thrown so far out of focus, so this kind of posed situation can be done virtually anywhere.

Cultural Sensitivities
It's important to be aware that certain cultures react to photography differently than we do. Always ask your guide, or a local tour operator, what you should know about local customs in this regard. Some cultures expect, and demand, money. Others don't want to be photographed. In some countries, children, and especially young girls, have little autonomy to make decisions for themselves. For example, when I wanted to take pictures of young girls in India, I had to ask permission from their husband or father.

Never try to push a child into being photographed when he or she doesn't want to. Very young children who have not been exposed to outsiders can be scared to death of strange looking foreigners who point large, metal and glass things in their direction. If you sense their discomfort, find another, more willing, subject.




< -- Previous   1 | 2    
 

Article by Jim Zuckerman. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at BetterPhoto.com.