What children’s portraiture has taught me about headshots
When I’m not photographing headshots for actors or business professionals, I’m possibly taking portraits of children. I absolutely love this, and while it can be challenging at times, capturing a child’s personality while they are in their element at childcare or kinder is an amazing feeling.
I work with a small team of amazing photographers: Jenny and Linda. Jenny has built up her business, Suga Snaps Photography, and refined her craft and the art of children’s photography. She brought me on board mid-this year after Linda dropped my name to her. I fell in love with Jenny’s work on her website, and stepped up to the challenge of childcare photography. Jenny has been an amazing mentor and friend – her passion for what she does is second to none. She has taught me so much about the art of photographing children, and every time I see her work I feel inspired.
You may or may not know that I don’t have any children myself. I also don’t have any younger siblings, and I’m not an aunty or godparent in any way. In fact, I don’t really have any connections to young children at all. Working for Suga Snaps has certainly taught me a lot about children (yet – there is so much I don’t know). It has also freshed my mind about my own specialty: headshots.
Children teach us & remind us:
Children have a way of teaching us things, and also reminding us of things we have forgotten as adults. Their perspective on the world is fresh, trusting and full of life. Of course there are plenty of instances where children say ‘NOPE’ to getting their photo taken, and so working with them can be challenging to bring them around to seeing the joy of photography.
One of the things I have learnt from photographing children is trusting, and allowing them to lead me. While you can have a shot-list in the back of your mind, capturing true personality comes from allowing the person in front of the lens to show you that personality. It has reminded me how important it is to get to know the subject I’m photographing. I try and do this in the consultation before each session, and during the shoot too.
Another thing childcare photography has taught me, is how powerful conversation can be to get that spark: the twinkle in the eyes, the cheeky smile.
Technically thinking, children’s portraiture is much like headshots. Although while my headshots are very carefully set up, composed, and lit deliberately, working with children is in fast-forward. Working with the available light, without the time for reflectors and diffusers. It’s about thinking quick and watching the sun
Bokeh is the key here too – like in my headshot work. At a busy kinder or childcare centre, removing those distracting elements from the background is vital. We use long lenses, a 70-200 lens, that allows for amazing compression to blur out those elements.
Capturing the in-between moments. When shooting children at childcare, there is a lot of shooting. It can be a fraction of a section between missing or capturing those authentic moments. Being willing to shoot fast, and capture the spontaneous and candid moments too.
How headshot photography has helped me photograph children:
Having a background in headshots and portraits has had a big influence on my work photographing children. One of those things that I’m always mindful of is colour: looking at colour in what a child is wearing, or their eye colour. Creating compositions with images that are well balanced with colour can create powerful portraits: if that be a child at kinder, or a professional actor.
Understanding background and lighting has also helped in this field. Knowing that I cannot completely control the natural light on the day, and using only fill flash, means I need to have a strong understanding for light and contrast. Shooting a child in full sun doesn’t quite work, but using the sun to backlight does. Finding shade is another key. And on those beautiful overcast days, it is free for all.
While I love my career in actor headshots and corporate photography, balancing my craft with children’s portraiture is amazing. This area is all about authentic moments mixed with personality filled portraits. I get to mix all my loves into one.
The images on this page were all taken by me – however not at kinder or childcare. These are a range of children’s portraits that I have taken around my studio and on location!