Photographer JANE GOODRICH has teamed up with children’s book author BOB ROCZKA for a series of picture books featuring kids “being kids” in various urban settings. The debut book features THE BIG APPLE. Here’s Jane to explain how it all began. She also offers some practical tips on how to best photograph your own kids.
The book has been a personal project of mine for many years now. From photographing children in their environment be it NYC or their home or a park, I often found my favorite images are when the kids are just being kids and exploring, finding little things fascinating be it sticks, leaves, flowers or walking on cracks in the pavement.
I teamed up with Bob Raczka, to bring the images to life in a fun way for kids. Bob is a veteran children’s book author and has written over 20 books for children.
It’s a fun photo book that features vibrant and exciting kid-centric portraits in a fresh, moving homage to all who use New York City as their playground. When shooting in NYC, I found that the urban backdrop of NYC makes for a great juxtaposition for the little ones lost in the wonder. Kids can find wonder in life anywhere – they don’t need a playground to have fun, the whole city is their playground.
I loved the whole process of the book coming together! From finding new and interesting places to shoot in NYC, to casting and meeting the kids for the books – so many fun personalities – we tried to incorporate their own interests into their images (Spiderman was obsessed with Spiderman so we had him bring his costume or the little one who is ‘driving on the sidewalk’ loved toy cars, the cover shot girl loved to dance so we used her for the ballerina graffiti shot). It was very freeing from a creative standpoint as we were able to capture children truly being themselves.
Here are some overall quick tips to photographing your kids at play:
Time of day – if outdoors, try to photograph them during the sun’s lowest time (early morning or later in the day).
Mood – Try to photograph them when they are in their best mood (unless you are going for the grumpy play shots – you wanted natural right?) A hint – well rested and well fed kids tend to be a little more cooperative.
Get on their level – photographing kids at their eye level makes a much more pleasing photograph and it also helps you get into their world and see what they see.
Guide exploration and play – if your little one decides they are bored and needs a hand in finding something interesting – help them – oooh look at the boats, can you count the boats, can you find me a leaf or a stick? I find kids tend to find their own wonder most of the time but sometimes they need a little nudge.
Don’t force it – don’t try to get them to make a fake smile or something they don’t want to do (like encouraging them to climb something if they are afraid – it’s not worth it!).
Tell a tale – what is your image trying to say? Is it an emotion, like happiness or joy? Or is it a record of an event – first day of school or a holiday? Rather than taking a simple portrait, include elements in your image that help to tell the story.
Practice makes perfect – keep your camera handy and test out at least a few of these tips every time you have a chance to take photos.
The more you practice, the more these tips will become second nature, soon you’ll barely have to think about them as you create amazing images of your kids, your family, and everything around you.