Want to take street photography of kids? Here are seven tips for better shots.
1. Turn your camera on to adults as well
Don’t photograph just children. Otherwise people will think you’re a paedophile. It’s sad, but true.
2. Don’t photograph at kids’ sites, such as playgrounds.
These days it makes you look like a pervert. There are two exceptions: if you have a child at the playground, it’s fairly safe. And if you’re a woman, it’s more acceptable. For unaccompanied males, it’s a no-no.
3. Shoot in public places
It’s best to take pictures in open places such as town centres, where people are passing through. Again, this is a safety thing: it will be apparent that you’re there because the population as a whole are there, young and old not just children.
OK, we’ve got past the warnings. Let’s look at taking better photos.
4. Never shoot just one picture
Keep taking pictures. As with other types of street photography, things develop. Kids start fighting each other. They sulk. They get bored and tired. They throw things. Keep your camera out, and keep shooting.
5. Keep an eye out for badly behaved kids
Some children are well behaved. We street photographers aren’t interested in them. Rude and badly behaved ones make better subjects.
Watch out for a row developing between a child and its parents. Supermarkets are good for this, where a child spots a toy or some sugary snack and the parents say no. Then the child has a fit, and the shouting starts. Unfortunately, parents are mostly well behaved and restrained these days, so you don’t generally see them smacking their children.
6. Get down to the child’s height
If you shoot from eye level, your photos will look down on the child. Even shooting from the waist produces photos taken as if by a giant. So find a place to sit – it will bring you down to the child’s level.
7. Avoid conventional mother and baby shots, especially of your own family
Street photographs work best when there is a distance between the photographer and their subject.
You can usually tell when the photographer knows the subject. There is something relaxed and affectionate about the portrait. It lacks the stoniness that characterises a stranger’s gaze.
Moreover, it’s hard to photograph your own kids well. You’ll photograph your babies’ in a loved one’s arms. That produces often charming pictures, but they rarely have any value expect to the proud parents.
And since your older kids will be used to you taking pictures, they’ll strike poses.
So there you have it. Seven good tips for shooting kids as a street photographer.