They are very wiggly, giggly, and energetic.
They’re wonderful and difficult to photograph. Always in motion, first graders have an exuberance that shines out from their eyes and their impish smiles.
Here are some images from the first grade photo shoot I did at my son’s school years ago. I took outdoor photos of each of the children in his first grade class.
With their two front teeth missing, first graders look like kind-hearted, good-natured vampires.
See what I mean?
Here are a few of my favorite photographs of the first graders:
It’s fun to do a first grade photo shoot with kids this age because of all their crazy expressions.
You can do really tight shots that are totally forgiving—no wrinkles or pimples in first grade.
For this shoot I was using a 6 megapixel Konica Minolta, which is considered older than a dinosaur in this digital age of camera evolution.
Professional portrait photographers, like this one, use much fancier equipment.
7 Tips for a first grade photo shoot … how to get good shots of 6 and 7-year-olds:
1) Make them move before you ask them to stand still: I had each kid run in a circle or to a tree, and then do some jumping jacks. This helped bring color to their cheeks and also helped erase the phony, now-I’m-posing-for-the-camera smiles that even toddlers have and that can plague photos at this age.
2) You can blur the background with the right kind of lens: I cheated by using a telephoto lens, standing relatively close, and then zooming all the way in. If you’re having trouble getting the background to blur, ask the first grader to take one step closer to the camera. When the background is a little farther away, you’ll get a better blur on.
3) If you need to get the attention of a distracted (or disenchanted) subject, have a friend stand behind you with their head as close to your shoulder as possible: That way when the child you’re trying to photograph laughs—finally—at the stupid knock knock joke his friend is telling him, he’s not looking off to one side.
4) Don’t believe anything you see on the small screen: It’s the boon of digital cameras that you can preview the photos on the screen. It’s also the bane. Something that looks perfect on the small screen can be in lamentably soft focus once you develop it.
5) Keep clicking: Always take many more pictures during a first grade photo shoot than you think you need or want. Keep clicking! The expressions you capture in the in-between moments, not the posed pictures, end up being the keepers.
6) Use natural lighting … outdoors: Every picture I took during the first grade photo shoot this morning was different since the sun kept shifting and I was not using any fancy outdoor lighting equipment. Sometimes it was too bright and we had to move to the shade. Sometimes the sun was just perfect, and then disappeared behind the clouds. But natural lighting is ALWAYS better than indoor lighting (especially in a school, especially when you can’t afford an excellent flash.)
7) Bring an extra battery: Mine died at the moment I clicked the last photo. I had another one charged up and ready to go. But too many times I’ve made the mistake of not checking that both batteries are charged. Having a back-up camera with you is a good idea too.
Want to turn your photos into memes for Facebook? Read my musings on making FB memes.
Now it’s your turn! What are your best tips for photographing kids?
Post updated on November 29, 2018