Things I Learned From My First Shoot with Children / by Christian Hernandez

In September 2016 I was in Miami, FL for a few days. A couple of friends knew I was trying to grow my photography portfolio, so they set up a family photoshoot while I was there. I had not met the family before, but because they were friends of friends, there was a commonality and a bit more comfortability than would be present under other circumstances.

This was my very first family shoot. The shoot ended up being one where I captured mostly images of just the children because the parents didn’t end up wanting to be in many of the images, but I remember coming in with expectations. In my head, I was thinking “pose the kids like this, have them then go here, then do this, etc.” And boy did I learn a few things with this shoot.

1. You can’t contain kids’ attention long enough for poses

This is a generalization. But if you’ve been around children, you know it’s sometimes difficult for kids to pay attention to adults. Pretty soon after starting to shoot, I learned I couldn’t get a handle on the kids long enough to pose them. They wouldn’t listen to what I asked them to do - even with the help of the parents. This has a lot to do with the age of the kids and where they are developmentally. And it’s also worth noting that this is not the case for every shoot with kids. Some kids are great with direction and listen well, others will want to do what their little hearts desire.

2. Loosen your expectations

Tied to point number one, it was important for me to not beat myself up and get discouraged because I couldn’t get “the right shot.” After I realized what was happening, during the shoot and in-the-moment, I had to adjust my approach and expectations and instead began to actively look for a good shot I could take, understanding that what I had planned had to change. I could not afford to focus on the fact that my plans were not working.

3. Capture them being playful

Instead of posing them, I tried to capture them running around, playing in the playground, on the swing set, and doing their thing. This ended up being a better approach for photos. But more importantly, I think it captured their personalities better than posed shots.

With this shoot, the kids had a lot of liberty and I essentially captured them roaming freely. With a few more family shoots under my belt, my style and approach have grown where I now know what to look for, am internally more loose with my expectations, and can snap quicker photos while the kids are just right.

Here are some favorites from what I captured.

GEAR USED: Canon 7D Mark II | Canon 50mm f/1.8