More On Photographing Children

by William Lulow

Earlier this week, I had an assignment to make a series of photographs at a school facility that catered to children of various ages and provided them with daycare as well as projects of interest to them. As I have said, the trick to photographing children successfully is to be ready whenever they are, because you never know when you’ll be able to capture an expression, movement or something they do that will make a great image. A basic knowledge about kids and how spontaneous they are is also necessary!

In this particular school, I basically used my lighting to raise the overall level of light in the various rooms I visited, in order to be able to shoot at 1/125th of a second at something like f/5.6. I used one speedlight on a stand, bounced off the ceiling and another on the camera, also bounced.

Here are some of the results:

If you rely on the camera alone, you will wind up shooting at wide-open apertures and high ISO speeds. Most normal, digital lenses are not manufactured to produce really sharp images at their maximum apertures. (Maybe the really expensive, fast lenses can, but I like to use a 20mm f/2.8 lens on my Canon 60D, cropped sensor camera. I have also experienced the same effects with my 85mm f/1.8 lens). For lenses like this, you need to be able to stop down the lens so that you can shoot one or two stops from maximum. So, for a lens that has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, you would have to be shooting at f/4 or f/5.6. A faster lens, say f/1.4 or f/1.2, would enable you to shoot at f/2.8 or f/3.5. So this is where the extra light comes in very handy. I use two speedlights as detailed above.

My last blog article spoke about obtaining really sharp images from your digital lenses. This was a case in point! The extra light provided by the speedlights made all the difference because it enabled me not only to shoot at smaller apertures, but also at faster shutter speeds, thus capturing the children’s actions.