5 Tips to:
Get Your Child to Look at the Camera
Once you’ve got the hang of Using Distractions to Photograph you Children you might find it difficult to get little babies to look at the camera. Again these tips are fairly common sense but it did take me some time before I was good at this so I thought I’d share my tricks with you. * Experienced photographers will already know this but you want the kids to look right into the lens, if your subject looks even a few inches to the left or right of the lens they will look odd in the resulting photograph (unless they look far off.)
1. Make Silly Sounds
My number one trick is Noise. You can’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself if you want to capture the attention of a young child, because acting silly will go a long way. I like to make a lot of strange noises to catch the eye of a little one. I make loud silly sounds like squawking, screeching, animal sounds and I vary my pitch. It sounds ridiculous and I look like a crazy person but it works like a charm. Here is a picture I took while making sound effects. This technique works best for the 0-3 age range but it even works on Grandma and Grandpa Jordan.
If you’re not comfortable acting foolish you can use a noisy toy as well. I find that bells and squeaky toys work the best but if you’re in a pinch you probably have a bottle of vitamins or a set of keys handy that will work.
2. Tell Parents Not to Help
Well meaning parents or others may try to help you get the children to look by calling their name and waving. Although they are trying to help this actually makes your job much harder because though they have succeeded your subject is now focused on something other than you. Interestingly other people in the shot with the child often try this without realizing that they are making faces when they make sounds so not only will the baby be looking at them, they won’t have the most flattering face in your shot. I politely say something like “mom and dad you both look right at the lens and I’ll worry about getting little one to smile.” If the parents aren’t in the photo you would be better off asking them to go somewhere else while you take your photos but unless you know them well they may not be comfortable leaving so you’ll have to use your judgment on that one.
3. Hang Something on Your Lens
I picked up this handy trick when I did a job shadow for a Vancouver family photographer. She had a colourful hair scrunchy that she would fit over her lens, to catch the eye of little ones. A colourful ribbon or hair tie with a fabric flower will work just as well. If you don’t have something to hang directly on your lens another simple trick is you shake something near your camera until the baby looks and then move the object up to your lens and behind the camera. The baby momentarily forgets about the object and stares at your camera but you have to be fast because they quickly lose interest and look elsewhere.
4. Can You See Your Reflection?
I love this simple trick and use it nearly every shoot but it really only works for the 1-5 age range. Point to the lens on your camera and ask “Can you see your reflection?” 1-5 year olds understand the question but aren’t old enough to know you’re pulling their leg. The younger ones will continue to look but the older ones will say “no.” So I reply “really, you can’t? You have to look WAAAY down inside the lens. Try again!” This won’t work for long but if you’re quick you’ll get a shot of them looking right into the lens.
5. Leave the Beep on
If you are using a DSLR camera there should be a beep sound when you press the trigger partway to get focus. Most people turn the noise off because it can be distracting, especially in a quiet church, but it works to get children to look at the camera.
I hope these tips help you to take better family photos! Check back for more tips on Photographing Your Family