Little adventures like this are why my children's clothing are almost all with stains or rips. Even though I don't care to much, I always prep the kids by saying something like "I don't care if your feet get wet, just don't fall in." It took Gracie thirty seconds before she fell.
I like taking my camera on little excursions and capturing candids of my kids. Its a complete joke to try to make them smile or look at me so I've become very content with these kinds of images. What I also like about taking adventure type photos is my kids have memories of the event and enjoy looking at the images.
Time of Day
To get the best candids, lighting and time of day are so important to think about. Don't go out at noon when the sun is high. You will get harsh shadows and blown highlights. Go out early or a couple hours before sunset. A lot of photographers rave over "golden hour" for shooting. Its that last hour of light before the sun goes down. But there are actually two golden hours during the day. The first hour of sunrise gives equally soft and rich light. If you are trying to capture candids when the sun is high, either plan to be in the shade, or expect that most of your images will be harsh. You really can't remove harsh, blown highlights when editing. I prefer the last hour of the day because once the sun is down you get a purple haze for about 20 minutes before its truly to dark to shoot without flash.
Even though he is my little boy he is my clean baby. Hates having dirty hands. His sister on the other hand...
Focus on one Eye
I still really like shooting f/1.8 which can be harder with candids than posed. I just love the depth. My tip for this technique is to always look at the subjects eye. I focus my camera on one eye of my subject. Obviously with candids the subjects face isn't always aimed at you, so if the eye isn't visible I just focus on the back of the head. If you aren't comfortable with a low aperture (or just don't like the look) bump it up. Also use a faster shutter speed to help with crisper shots.
Victorious! Captured all by herself.
The easiest way for me to get good candids of my kids is to shrink back. I get out of the way and just observe. I don't call their names or talk. I just follow or anticipate where they are walking too and try to get ahead.
Change your perspective
To me the most boring images are the ones where you can tell the photographer is standing. Perspective is everything with kids. Get low. Don't just angle down. Become their size. Its getting harder for me to do this now that I am in my second trimester, but a little squatting never hurts lol.
If you want to get nice candids don't bring all your camera equipment either. Pick a lens (mine was a 50mm 1.8) and leave everything else in the car. You won't be juggling anything while you wander. When I have clients children I use the same strategy. It makes my ability to move a lot easier.
Composition is everything
I love compositions that don't have the subject centered. It can be really hard to start taking risks with your composition, but the final product can be really rewarding. If you are having problems changing things from a stable, centered photograph try adjusting your distance and the way your holding your camera. I started out with all landscape/horizontal shots. Turning my camera vertical helped loosen me up. Backing up has been a fun way to shoot candids of my little ones because it really shows their tiny size compared to their environment.
My degree from Memphis College of Art is in painting. There really isn't a lot compositionally different between painting and photography. Zoomed in images are beautiful, but depth and complexity make for the most interesting pieces. In high school art class they teach foreground, middle ground, background. Create that in a candid photo. Make someone feel like they could walk into the photo.
Think of it as story telling. You need to provide information to the viewer to tell a story. In my illustration classes we learned about subject placement being equal to vulnerability. The subject dominating the image or being at the top of the image shows security. The subject small and at the bottom of the image causes them to look threatened or dominated. A tilt to the image also adds instability.
So happy to have these opportunities with my little ones. I know when they are older getting see their explorer personalities come through in photographs will be a lot of fun for them. Feeling very lucky to be their mom.
All images are property of Brittney Owens