Children are perfectly imperfect. If we let them “be themselves” we can capture images that are authentic and alive. I recently traveled with a group of photographers (lead by my friend Tony Bonanno and SFPW) to central Mexico to do what I love – create images. My companions concentrated on capturing the stunning architecture, vivid colors and the quaintness of the towns. My focus was the children. Their charm, innocence, and spontaneity were captivating. My limited Spanish vocabulary presented me with a communication challenge. Gesturing with my camera and speaking a few Spanish phrases, often enabled me to gain parental permission to photograph.
Before photographing a young child:
1. Start with a friendly smile. (The smile is essential)
2. Go up to the parent, shake his or her hand and say “Hola, me llamo es … Puedo tomar una foto de su hijo?” (hello, my name is … May I take a photo of your child?).
3. Always say “gracias” (thank you) whether the answer is yes or no. If the parent says no – smile, walk away, do not argue, and respect their wishes.
If granted parental permission:
1. Take your time and observe the child without lifting your camera. Allow the child to get comfortable with your presence.
2. Kneel or sit at the child’s level. Do not shoot down.
3. Position yourself for a clean, pleasing background with the child’s face well lit.
4. Remain in place long enough for the child to ignore you.
5. After you finish photographing, share your images with the parent and child.
6. Offer to email images or send prints.