Every now and then, I get asked to photograph kids; whether it be doing sports, at school or playing it’s always a major challenge but lots of fun!
Kids wear their feelings on the outside and this makes them brilliant subjects. With a little goading, you can get them to pull the most brilliant faces and they in turn will have lots of fun in the process, and when they interact with each other or adults, that’s when they can pull some truly unique expressions!
Last week I was asked along to one of the local schools to take some photographs for their website. The job was to take photographs of everything going on throughout the day. From kids working, playing and getting involved in sports to the facilities they have at the school, it was a major challenge. Someone said never work with animals and kids……I say if you want to better your craft, always work with animals and kids! It makes all of the other jobs so much easier…..unless you’re a wedding photographer…….
I had the challenge of mixed lighting, skylights, and tungsten lights mixed with daylight fluorescents and big windows letting in lots of daylight. So in some instances, I used a flash bouncing it off the ceiling and got rid of most of the ambient light. Other shots, I used all ambient light and no flash and then if the light was ok but there were darker patches, I mixed the two. All that to think of with hundreds of kids running around with all of their youthful energy!!
As with any shoot, it takes a while to get in to the swing of things. I’d say the first 20 minutes is the warm up faze. Your shots will be good, but you can do better. I always fire off a load of images in this initial stage to get warmed up as quickly as possible. Then you’ll start getting into the groove.
In situations like this, I will dial in my initial settings for the given room, then work out if I need some flash. If the shutter speed is less than the focal length, I’ll use flash. There is no correlation between the shutter speed and focal length but it’s a handy way to know when to use flash and is easy to remember.
Also you need to consider the look of the light. Direct flash is rarely a good look, so try to find a ceiling or a wall to bounce it off, even if it’s 20-30ft away, it’ll still add some light, and it’ll make the light source huge. This will result in nice soft light that’ll wrap around the faces of your subjects. Soft light on people is always flattering when you get it at the right angle!
Once I get into the groove, I’ll start getting some of my better images, and there’s no better feeling than looking down the barrel of a lens, knowing that everything is right!
It’s normally in this instance that time starts to fly by. Luckily on this shoot, I had one of the members of staff popping in every half an hour or so to show me to the next location as the school was so big. If you don’t have this and you’re on a strict timeline, make sure you have an alarm you can set, otherwise you may find yourself running out of time quickly!
For this shoot, I had a canon 7d with a 70-200mm 2.8 and the 5d mkiii with the trusty old 24-105mm f4. For run and gun shooting or event shooting, this is a good combo as you can get super tight close-ups and wide to medium shots. I also kept the 16-35mm in my bag just in case I needed the odd wide shot. As I am tight and don’t like to spend loads of money on kit, I also had the Yonguno yn568exii, which is a fantastic flash for a fraction that you’d spend on the canon flash units. As the 70-200mm 2.8 gives a superb image, I didn’t need any of my primes, and photographing in such a quick environment doesn’t afford you the time to shoot with them anyway.
I ended up spending about 4 hours at the school and got around 250 images I like, which I passed on for review.
I haven’t included any images yet as I only shot these last week, but as soon as the school has used them on their site, I’ll create a link to it so you can see the images I captured.
The things I learned on this shoot:
- You have to be quick on your feet to capture good images, when things are happening all around you.
- Take time to settle into the new environment, even if you have to get there early.
- Look at the light you have, if it’s not enough, get your flash out…..and bounce it!
- Constantly tweak your settings for the given conditions
- Keep an eye out for what’s happening around you and be ready to turn and shoot!
I hope this helped you in your quest for better photographs. The key is to get out there and shoot as many things as possible as often as possible! The only way to learn your craft is to do your craft.
Thanks for reading