Simple Rules for Lousy Photos of Kids (2)

You can't take great pictures of kids until you can take lousy ones first. Luckily that's easy with the Simple Rules for Lousy Photos series.

Great photos are over-rated: they take forever to set up, the "right" equipment costs an arm and a leg, and nobody really notices the difference anyway, do they? No, they don't, at least not consciously. But subconsciously, people can tell the difference between a great photo and a mediocre one. But in order to take great photos, you need to know how to take bad ones first, right? Welcome back to the Simple Rules for Lousy Photos series.
In part one, I talked about ignoring the light. Now I'll move on to ignoring the height. Camera height that is.

Rule #2. Stoop to their level
Most people see the world from about 5-1/2 feet to 6 feet above the ground (sorry Aunt Mary), so why shouldn't you snap photos from any other elevation? Because most people in the world see life from 5-1/2 feet to 6 feet above the ground (Aunt Mary notwithstanding), that's why.

Interesting photos are taken from above or below this 'normal' height. Because kids are close to the ground, you'll capture them much better from down low. Getting on a kid's level let's people see them as they don't usually see them: the way they are. (Getting low works well for photographing pets too).

Run, spin, drop and shoot

One way to get cool photos of dogs and toddlers is to run way ahead of them, spin around, and then fall to the ground snapping fast and furiously. It usually results in a few good ones, as you can see below. Use an adjustable lens so that you can start zoomed and back it off as your subject trots (or crawls) towards you.
Think about which way the light is coming from before you take off running, try to arrange it so that the light will be behind you off to one side when you spin, drop, and start shooting.
Use a wide angle lens to add drama
If you have bad knees, embrace your height advantage: frame dramatic shots from above using the lines in your composition to play up the height difference. A popular photographic device these days is to shoot from above with a wide angle lens foreshortening the subject. This makes the head appear a lot bigger than the rest of the body. Lilly's picture at the top of the page is taken with a 16mm lens about two feet from her face.

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