Child Photography: Capturing Childhood

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The first year of a child’s life is a whirlwind of achievements. Parents eagerly watch for that first real smile, and are enraptured by the daily changes which mark the passage of time. The loss of sleep and bouts of colic fade to the background when we recall, in later years, the joys of those first twelve months.

As new parents come to realise just how quickly their infant is galloping towards childhood, they look for ways to capture these fleeting images. Around their first birthday, many mums and dads turn to a professional photographer for a photoshoot of their little one, something that will immortalise who they were at this important milestone. Having children of my own, I know how precious these photographs will become when, just a few years later, their baby will be grown.

Photo Reportage

Some parents prefer a photo reportage, inviting me into their home to shoot the child in their normal environment. Reportage photography requires me to record what’s happening as unobtrusively as possible, telling the story of a normal day as it unfolds. I will often spend some time talking and playing with my little subjects before picking up the camera so that they’re more comfortable and unselfconscious when I begin to snap pictures.

A reportage photoshoot is a form of photo-journalism, where the aim is to take candid pictures of what the photographer sees before them. The completed series of photographs recounts the narrative of the days events, but may reflect the challenges of shooting in less than ideal circumstances. Children don’t naturally sit still in perfect light and wait patiently as I change lenses. That’s why many clients prefer to bring their child into the studio, for a more formal shoot in a controlled environment.

A Studio Photoshoot

Most children enjoy coming into the studio, where they’re encouraged to interact with a few small props like balloons or stuffed animals. Whether it’s the cute new outfit or being the centre of attention, they seem to know that something very special is happening and they’re filled with curiosity. Some will want to run around for a bit to wear off their nervous energy in a new place, but all eventually settle down for the camera.

These pictures were taken during Mateo’s first year photoshoot. His mum brought him in for a session in the studio, and he was completely entranced by everything going on around him. He was also a very calm little boy, which made it easy to capture his delightful grin and brightly shining eyes.

Whether photographing children in their homes or having them pose in the studio, my chief objective is to record the essence of who they are in all of their developing complexities. A tentative smile, a happy laugh, and a moment of shy withdrawal are equally important in telling this little person’s story. Photographing children is about focussing on emotions rather than actions, which is why I believe studio photography can be as compelling, and just as candid, as reportage.

I like to think of child photography as part of creating a historic record. Both the parents and their children will be able to look back at a moment frozen between wonder and limitless possibility.