Beth Jennings – The Journey Captured » I capture the journey of people in their personal and professional lives. I teach amateur photographers how to capture their life in beautiful photos. Photography, Melbourne Photographer, Photography Workshops, dSLR Camera Workshops, Creative Camera Course, Photo Course Melbourne, Camera Class Melbourne

Beth’s Pick – How to get past the fear of photographing children

This last couple of weeks in Your Camera, Your World, participants have been learning about how to photograph children.

They were set two parts to their assignment:

1. A child’s portrait – more intimate, close-up and with eye contact to the camera if possible.
2. Childhood – capturing the child immersed in a moment of their childhood.

This is not easy – at all!

Photographing children brings up a lot of angst for many people. I believe the fear comes up because of the unknownness that comes with photographing children. As learners we intuitively want to control everything, falsely believing that with control comes success. And yet we know with children that this idea will just not fly because we can’t control their mood, their expressions and their posturing. We know if we say ‘smile’ that we’re going to get a cheesy smile. In fact, a grimace, is a more likely outcome which we all know is pretty much a waste of everyone’s time.

Beth’s Pick

Today I’d like to feature Leah’s pictures. Firstly, here’s her commentary that came with her submission:

‘Hello Beth,

I must admit it was nerve wracking for me when I found out we were going to photograph children, primarily because I just moved to Melbourne and I don’t really know any kids around. I was actually prepared to skip the assignment but thank goodness a friend had a niece and nephew and the parents agreed for me to hang out with them for an afternoon. It was absolutely lovely. Felt like a kid again running around after them and just being ready for any moment. I actually got a lot of nice photos which I didn’t expect going in.

Thanks for giving us confidence in this module. I wouldn’t have been courageous enough to do this if it were not for this assignment and your words of encouragement.:)

Regards, Leah’

So now let’s take a look at Leah’s pictures:

The children are completely immersed in their moment.
Leah’s composition is spot-on, allowing for the viewer’s eye to move left to right
in a clockwise circle around the image.
The conversation between the eyes is lovely, and the heart-connection between
the two children is apparent.


A close-up on this little treasure, shot down low level with her eyes.
How cute is that little lip bite, it’s a great moment of capture.
The technicals are great too, with a soft depth of field so the fence is out of focus.


I spoke to Leah in the feedback video about the post production decisions she made with colour set for the portrait, and the vignetting at the edges for the black and white. Small matters in her post production decisions that she will develop with time, experience and practice. In our course if you can conquer post production it’s considered a bonus. The course is primarily geared towards camera control to execute creative ideas.

I want to talk to you, the reader, about this fear thing. Leah was going to let the worry stop her entirely from having a go. And wouldn’t that have been a shame? The parents would surely love these two pictures. Why? Because they both successfully capture a moment in those childrens’ worlds. The parents would see such fleeting moments like these all the time. These are the important moments that fix to memory. How amazing to have those fleeting, fragmented moments that pull the heart strings alive forever in a photograph.

First things first

Control the controllables – then let the rest fly.

There is a tricky fine line to walk between controlling elements like backgrounds, lighting, camera settings and decisive moment and knowing when to let go of control and trust the children and ourselves that the great moments will come.

With practice this becomes easier and more intuitive and the bar is gradually raised in terms of which images ‘get through’ and why. I believe Leah has made a great leap into her children photography. There is what I call a maths, or formula, to photographing children. Leah followed the advice and lesson plan well right through to execution:

  • She didn’t try to do complicated ideas
  • She kept the lighting simple and soft
  • She set up her technicals first
  • She was present and waited for the moments to appear
  • She trusted that when her heart said click now!, she would be ready, and she was

Well done Leah! And to think she was afraid to jump in. Keep going, I say!

Confidence is king in photography – if you can conquer your confidence with your camera, then you’ll be well on your way to capturing photographs you can always be proud of.


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