by Michael Turner Published 01/12/2010
Your background should ideally complement the overall look of the portraits in terms of texture, colour and brightness. Using a long lens and wide aperture such as f2.8 should make your background soft and give depth to your portraits, especially close-ups. Try not to have your subject too close to the background if you want it to stay soft and painterly. Of course, you may want the background to be sharp and a feature of your portrait, in which case you can could shoot with a standard or wide-angle lens and a smaller f-stop, say f8.0 or f11.0.
Experiment with different lenses and different f-stops, and move your subjects closer or further away from the background until you find a style that you like.
Now that you've found your location you can bring in the kids. The key to natural portraits is to MAKE IT FUN! Even if you want some of the portraits to be quiet and reflective you'll get more co-operation if the in-between bits are fun for the kids. Let them be themselves, be VERY patient and don't patronise them. Let the parents know what you're doing and not to expect instant co-operation from their little angels. All kids are angels, aren't they? Allow plenty of time for the shoot - work quickly when things are going well and have lots of breaks. Allow the moments of pure chance to happen. And know when to call it a wrap.
Watch your backgroundTwo other things to consider before the shoot are clothing and equipment. Keep it simple in both cases.
Photographing kids outdoors can be great fun and very rewarding if you get the preparation right. Or a disaster if you don't! But that's another story.
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