During the shoot
How to approach child photography
“My style of photography is very interpretive: it’s all about capturing an emotion and building up a rapport. I tend to look for images that aren’t obvious, such as the moments when a small child is caught unawares. I only shoot with natural light when on location, as this gives images a much softer, more emotive feel.
“When photographing babies or children you’ll need to be prepared to move quickly, making sure you’re watching for little moments all the time. For me, baby and child photography isn’t about being strict on photographic technique: it’s all about capturing moments and expressions, and making the most of the natural light.”
How to capture a child’s attention
If you’re photographing someone else’s child, then Sheryl believes it’s important that just one person tries to get their attention for the shot. “If there are lots of people surrounding a baby or toddler then their eyes will be all over the place.
“Make sure that only one person is capturing the child’s attention – be it the photographer or their mum or dad – then you’ll have their eyes focused in one place, which makes it easier for you to nail your shot.”
Working with light and shadow
“To find out how the light will fall on your subject’s face, take a piece of plain white paper and fold it in half,” says Sheryl. “You can then imagine that the folded paper is two sides of a face. If you hold it in the area you want to shoot you’ll be able to choose the best place for the light and shadow to fall.
“Babies have round faces, so I like to photograph them without any shadows on their faces to bring out the sparkle in their eyes. Using this piece of paper, I can see where to position the subject and myself in order to get the best possible light.
“Also, when you’re photographing people, cover up one eye to see how your camera ‘sees’. You’ll now perceive things in two dimensions and see colour, texture and light more clearly.”
Always focus on the eyes
“Babies and children move around very quickly, so it’s almost impossible to try and focus manually,” says Sheryl. “I set my camera’s autofocus (AF) mode to AI Servo. That way, the camera will automatically adjust as the focusing distance changes. Always make sure you focus on the eyes – this is the key to a good portrait.”
Follow the three rules of composition
Sheryl advised Debbie to keep looking for areas that have a neutral background, but with lots of texture and detail. It was important that Debbie kept thinking about photo composition and where she placed herself to photograph Kieran, as good framing can make or break a shot. The three composition rules she followed are explained below.
“Kieran is sat at the convergence point of the three strong graphic lines, created by the shape of the alcove. These lines pull the viewer into the image and to Kieran himself, subtly relating the subject to the backdrop.”
The rule of thirds
“Debbie may not have realised it when she composed the shot, but she’s instinctively positioned Kieran so that he’s sat roughly a third of the way into the frame, which makes for a nicely balanced and interesting image.”
“There’s a triangle-shaped area of light stonework on the back wall, which mimics the shape of Kieran’s sitting position. Kieran’s light-coloured clothes add balance to the shot, and the fact that he’s looking out of the image, rather than into the camera, helps to give extra depth and interest.”