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02-04-2016, 07:32 AM   #1
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Un-cooperative Un-predictable Small Children

Any advice would be welcome on how to photograph the same. Their dad will not let me put their heads in Victorian head clamps which were once used for sitters when exposures were in seconds or nail them to the floor (he says the latter would mark the wooden floor besides which it is probably against the law, nailing that is).

Pre-focusing does not help as in the time the mirror lifts, the picture is gone. Bribary or begging or distraction only works when they are in the mood which is very seldom. I would try techniques used in active pet photography but I have no pet to practice on, besides which I do not know any (techniques) anyway. I am at a loss.

I have K3 and a K50. Out of interest would a mirrorless system camera with a quality electronic view finder and with no mirror lag be better?

In desperation,

Lone Wolf

02-04-2016, 08:01 AM   #2
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IMHO: your equipment is fine. It just takes time, patience, and taking shot after shot to get the one you like. It also takes the kids getting used to/not caring that you are always about them with "that danged camera!"
02-04-2016, 08:08 AM   #3

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You can either machine gun them (not literally) and hope you get some good shots or sneak up on them when they are concentrating on something. I let my grandson play with an old camera and I pose for him and then occasionally he will pose for me
02-04-2016, 08:17 AM   #4
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High shutter speed and a low keeper rate may be your only solutions. However, in photographing my own, I find that distracting them with shiny objects (metaphorical or real) frequently helps (though the younger of the two is mad keen on having her picture taken, so much so that she's frequently dashing forward to see the result almost before the mirror finishes returning).

02-04-2016, 08:23 AM   #5
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What worked a few times for me, when photographing my kid and my nieces and nephew was to take a silly picture where they could pose as they wished after a "normal" picture. They liked that bargain. Just be quick.
02-04-2016, 09:16 AM   #6
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Put camera in high speed mode. Fire away. Some will be both in focus and with great expressions. No film involved so wasted pics are easy to delete.
02-04-2016, 09:31 AM   #7
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Alternatively, photograph at low shutter speed, convert to monochrome, and call it art!

As for shutter lag, mirrored vs. mirrorless...finger lag is the largest component in a missed shot. That being said, turning off AF is most effective. Removing the mirror from the equation may help some, but it depends on the mirrorless camera and whether the shutter is mechanical or electronic. A non-reflex camera (no TTL viewfinder or mirror locked up) using manual focus is probably the fastest option in terms of sheer responsiveness.


Last edited by stevebrot; 02-04-2016 at 09:42 AM.
02-04-2016, 10:02 AM   #8
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I tend to rely on flash ... not the direct 'deer in headlights' kind, but on-camera bounced flash (P-TTL automatic exposures). I try where possible to aim the flash at least 70-90 degrees to the side and a little upwards in order to create a soft and directional light source (coming from the wall and ceiling). This tends to create nice contrast across the face when it works well. The other advantage is I can choose from a wide range of shutter 'speeds', depending on whether I want to mix in any ambient light as well .....

TBH more times than not there's no need, and I can set a shutter time of 180thsec, which with the flash ensures sharp shots so long as focus is good. Also I can stop down to around f5.6-6.7 which helps with any focus issues caused by them moving a bit. Indoors these settings work well combined with an ISO of 200 or 400 in average house rooms, or 800-1600 if the space is bigger.

02-04-2016, 11:03 AM   #9
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My children will occasionally pose, it helps a lot to set up a scene with props. Make sure you are ready because the moment doesn't last long.
If you want to take pictures of life as it happens, keep practicing until you become proficient at being in the right place at the right time. I have better results by patiently waiting and then being quick on the shutter instead of telling children to look.
02-04-2016, 11:09 AM   #10
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Assuming you are after a traditional 'portrait', give dad $19.95 and send him and the kids to Walmart.

Otherwise you need to document them while they are busy doing something that interests them. Portion off the corner of a room and introduce a Lego set, or other activity toy. Have a couple of external flashes aimed at the ceiling so that no matter where you are focused the exposure will be the same. f/8 will do nicely. Make lots of exposures.

If you are being paid to produce this portrait, you are not charging enough. Raise your rate to the point where the kid's lack of cooperation is no longer your problem, but Dad's. It's amazing what a significant financial investment will do to inspire enthusiasm for the successful outcome of a portrait session.

If you are doing this for your portfolio, you're better off hiring models.
02-04-2016, 11:13 AM   #11
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Persistence and fast shutter speeds have helped me in these cases. Have the kid do what they want (or what you can convince them they want). I'm not above bribery either but you have to keep the bribes neat so they don't get all chocolaty!
02-04-2016, 12:18 PM   #12
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Note that kids are a very challenging subject as it is. So don't undermine the subject at all. I have a very low keeper rate despite fast shutter speeds. Bounce Flash helps indoors very much and although the keeper rate is low the ones I find worth keeping are really (I mean really) worth keeping. I struggle getting my son to even look at the camera forget posing. Its like who are you and what are you doing and why are you doing this response from him most of the time. I am mostly frustrated when that happens and end up in an extremely low keeper rate (like 1 in 40 shots but by this time the interest is lost so I just stop) but I keep telling myself that kids ARE a very challenging subject so be patient and keep getting better at it.
Btw I did experience that you only have a FIRST few mins when they are interested and ready to pose. So your keeper rate is not only timing it but timing it during the first few minutes of the shoot. Its like you got only a minute to do this kinds of pressure.
If there is no keeper rate then pick the one that has the greatest expression and turn it into B/W and soften it (salvage situation).
02-04-2016, 02:33 PM   #13
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Not posing them sometimes works.

Just let them play and pick your moments.

Stand well back and use zoom or be prepared to crop your images.

I 'captured' my very camera shy nephew once by firing the camera at waist level.
02-04-2016, 02:42 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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02-04-2016, 02:45 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
St. Joseph's Valium for Children?

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