Ginny Felch (aka Virginia Clayton) (San Francisco, CA) has always been passionately appreciative of children and babies. Her love for children, spurred by her experiences with son Zachary, led to an inspired career creating children’s portraits. Along this journey, as she exhibited and lectured her way to becoming a Master of Photography through Professional Photographers of America, she was fortunate enough to have been coached by some of the great photographers: Marie Cossindas, Morley Baer, Ruth Bernhard, Robert Farber, Sara Moon, and Josef Karsh. In her photography, she focuses on the moody and sculptural effect of natural light on a myriad of subjects, creating a sense of place or feeling of timelessness. Ginny has had many exhibitions of her photography as well as published photos in magazines. You can view her portfolio at silverliningimages.com. She also has a blog: photographingchildren.com and a very active Facebook Group called Photographing Children.
by Ginny Felch
Photographing Children Photo Workshop
• Consider placing the child off-center and in focus in the composition. This can make a portrait more interesting and dynamic. Portraits have more impact if you have the child in focus and the background/foreground out of focus. You can select a mode with “selective focus” so that you can focus on the child and have all else fall away from focus. Portrait mode is a way to do that, or choosing a larger f-stop, like f/4 or f/2.8.
• Feel free to show their various expressions, rather than always insisting upon a smile. Big smiles are for school portraits! Wistful, perplexed, inquisitive, daydreaming expressions tell a story about a child that is unique.
• Avoid having clutter and busy shapes and patterns, light and shadows in your background. Find backgrounds that are simple and un-distracting; that way the focus will be on the child, not on the background.
• Avoid using a flash! Instead find lighting that is appealing and sculptural. Photograph children in the early morning light, the late evening light, or in window light. If you generally avoid bright mid-day, sunny weather out of doors, you will find your photographs less contrasty and blotchy with light and shadows. The “sweet” light of day creates mood and softness often very appropriate for photographing children.
• Treat children as teachers rather than “subjects.” Don’t use stock phrases that reduce them to underlings—they will pick it up in a minute. Pay attention to their ideas and their special qualities and you will be gifted with unique and unusual photographs. More natural poses can be achieved if you don’t try too hard to pose children exactly the way you want them. Instead, watch their body language and catch them when you see something appealing to you. Again, let them be your teachers because we often forget how natural and beautiful these little uninhibited beings can be.