Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Child’s play

“Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye – it is very beautiful.”- Kailash Satyarthi

The subject of the latest Readers Photo Challenge assignment is “Children.” They are often among the subjects that everyone photographs the most. Kids grow up so fast and we want to capture all the special moments in their lives.

We all have cute kids, but you can’t just rely on their cuteness alone to carry a photo. If you do then your results are likely to be mediocre or even bad photos of cute kids.

This assignment doesn’t require any special photographic needs, equipment-wise. You can use a DSLR, point-and-shoot or even cellphone camera. You do have to apply the same sound photographic techniques to a kid’s photo as you would any portrait to come away with a great picture.

Get in close. Most people take their pictures from too far away. Fill the frame with your subject.

Watch your backgrounds. Too often we forget and allow a background that is too cluttered and busy making it distracting.

Think about lighting. Avoid harsh light. Soft lighting from a window or under the open shade of the tree can be flattering for a portrait of a child or even an adult.

Focus on the eyes, they are the first thing that people look at in a portrait

There are some challenges that are specific to photographing children.

Kids are obviously shorter than adults so try getting down to their level. Try taking a knee or even sitting on the floor to avoid that “birds-eye” angle of looking down on your subjects.

The attention spans of younger children can be limited and this can be a problem especially for a formal-type portrait. This means you have to work fast before a child’s interest wanes. A photo session just before nap or snack time is a recipe for disaster. Taking the photo when the child is rested will help.

Conversely, you also have to be patient. Some children may be easily distracted and be more interested in the process of picture taking rather than having their pictures taken. Give them a little time to become accustom to you and your equipment.

Candid pictures of kids can be just as interesting as posed ones. As with the posed photos, kids can be too distracted by the camera and make it difficult to get a un-posed shot. Try giving your children something to do. Having them do an art project, play in a sandbox or on climb on playground equipment can quickly get their minds off of you and give you an opportunity for a natural, unrehearsed photo.

Let your kids be themselves. You know your children. If they’re active, silly or introspective try to capture those aspects of their personality. If the children that you’re photographing aren’t you own, then take time to get to know what they are like.
 While adult children may fit the letter of the challenge, let’s limit the age range of the kids from newborns to early teens. Our children grow up fast enough but this assignment may help you capture some of those moments along the way.

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How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to coto@recordnet.com. Type in “Children” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between March 3 and March 17.

3. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (ie: “John Doe of Stockton. Canon EOS Rebel Ti with 55-300mm lens. The photo was taken at my home on March Lane in Stockton.”)

4. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown), what they are doing in the photos and their relationship to you (“Debbie Smith, 8-yrs old, of Stockton plays on the swings at Grupe Park in Stockton”).

5. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

6. The deadline for submission is Thursday, March 17. The top examples will be published on Thursday, March 24 with an online gallery at recordnet.com of all the photos on the same day.

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