This concept is the simplest when it comes to child photography, yet is also one of the hardest to follow. Keep it simple! What this means is that we have a habit of trying to capture “everything” in a photo, thinking that it is important to giving the image context. While this can be a key feature in photojournalism, in personal photography (particularly portraiture) you want to increase the focus on the subject, or focal point (your child). This means that you need to work on decreasing distractions that can appear in the surroundings and background.
How it’s Done
How can you keep it simple? For one, be aware of what is in the background of your image. If it is overly colorful, textured, or busy, it may distract from what’s in the foreground; likely your child or another type of subject (dog, flower, car, etc.). You can remedy this by taking one of the following actions:
- Reposition yourself (or your subject) so the background is less distracting.
- Zoom in (or move closer) to make less of the background visible.
- Use a larger aperture (or portrait mode) so the background is blurred and less noticeable.
The next time you have your camera out, test this theory. Take a series of photos with noisy, colorful or distracting backgrounds, and then take a series with the same subject using one or more of the above techniques to reduce, blur, or eliminate the distraction. Which group of images do you find to be more compelling? Likely, once the distraction is removed or somewhat reduced, you will find that your eye is more likely to linger on the subject, rather than trying to figure out what is behind them or what the focal point of the photo is.
Note: This doesn’t mean that every time you photograph your child you should look for the dullest, most boring and plain background – that’s no fun! What the rule is meant to convey is that when you check your photos or are composing the shot your child/subject should be what’s most important, prominent, and noticeable in the frame – otherwise you might want to take a few steps (as above) to help them stand out more.
Keeping it simple in photography can take some practice, but once you have the hang of it you can apply it to all types of photography: landscapes, food, macro, sports, etc. Give it a try, and then come back for some more photography tips!