In one of my recent posts I shared some pictures that I took with my friends Grant and Nicky and gave 5 tips for a family photoshoot.  A couple weekends ago I went out for “round two” and took some new images with my friends Gavin and Sophie.  Their son, let’s call him B, is a bit younger than Grant and Nicky’s son so although there were many similarities to my last outing, there were also some significant differences.

Before I continue writing, I feel the need to tell you something about myself – I’m not a parent.  I’m sure that time will come some day but I wanted to get that out there, because I’m sure there will be mother’s and father’s reading my revelations on child behaviour and they’ll be rolling their eyes thinking “is this guy an idiot?”  Well, when it comes to real life experience with kids, the answer is yes.  For example, one of the things that became obvious is that age can make a pretty big difference.  If B is a year old and A is 18 months, those additional six months can have an impact on the types of photos you’ll be able to take as far as what they’ll be doing, how long they’ll be doing it, etc.

Anyway, back to the actual shoot.  On Sunday I went to meet Gavin and Sophie with my lovely assistant (and wife) Adriana.  B was just up from his nap, a little grumpy but was soon smiling as we started walking outside and went to the park.  He was just getting close to being able to walk, so he was constantly walking around pushing this little toy – looked to me like he was practicing mowing the lawn!  He also really enjoyed pushing a little toy truck that he had, so I made sure to get some pictures of that.

I’ll share with you a few things I learned from this shoot, in addition of course to what I picked up in my previous one.

1) Smile, smile, smile – If there was one thing that I wanted to make sure I got a picture of, it was B smiling.  He had a habit of sticking his tongue out when he was happy; not sticking it all the way out but sort of licking his lips in excitement.  I succeeded in getting several of these, but wish that I had captured more.  While I may be thinking a lot about composition, aperture and all kinds of other things the most important without a doubt is to capture the moments in time that will put a smile on faces in the years to come.  Take photos of happiness.

2) Don’t disrupt the flow – I also got some good pictures of the family spending time together; without a doubt the pictures that are keepers are the ones that are more natural.  If B is having fun and enjoying his day, then it’s best to just get the parents involved in whatever he’s doing and include them in the action, instead of dragging him to a sitting position and trying to pose a shot.  I don’t like being dragged away from my toys for no good reason – he doesn’t either!  Here are some group shots – you can see what worked and what didn’t, but my favorite is the opening shot at the top of the post.  I included the bottom shot taken with a wide angle lens to give you a taste of the good and the bad – in that instance B didn’t really want to sit on the bench and his temporary grumpiness was beginning to show!

3) Get to his level – I tried on a few occasions to get down to B’s level.  To get his view of the world and have the camera capture the day through his eyes.  This is challenging, and as usual some pictures were better than others.  I particularly like this first one with the out of focus grass in the foreground that leads the eye into the frame, with B at the center.  Some of the others I like the composition but failed in achieving sharp focus, something that will improve in time.

Overall it was a successful day, albeit much shorter than my first family shoot.  We spent less than two hours on the whole day taking pictures, and half that time was grabbing a bite to eat for lunch.  So there was definitely more time pressure, and again that has to do with the age of the child.  Younger kids tend to get grumpier quicker and need to be fed and take naps more often, so it’s important to make use of the time you have.  Compared to my first shoot I took less than half the pictures.

Hope you find this useful when taking some photos of your own family, next post we’ll be heading back to China (finally) for the Forbidden Palace!