Dealing with Unpredictable Photo Subjects

Young kids and hungry giraffes; you can’t get much more unpredictable.

I learned this first hand during a recent trip to the zoo. My second grader loves animals and can’t resist the urge to feed the giraffes whenever we visit our local zoo. However, trying to capture the moment with my non-Nikon D800 camera proved to be next to impossible.

I blame my camera, but there were a number of other factors that contributed to my lousy shots, including poor lighting and my bad vantage point. In addition, I was forced to deal with two very unpredictable subjects. Whereas I was fairly confident that the giraffe would happily accept the cracker my daughter gripped in her hand, the delivery, speed of acceptance and reaction were all up for grabs. This unpredictability can lead to some awkward shots if you are fortunate, and completely missed ones if you are not in action photo mode.

Timing is huge when you are photographing young children. In addition to being unpredictable, when you have a tired, hungry or cranky kid, you can pretty much kiss their cooperating skills good-bye. This means if you are trying to cajole them into posing for a photo, you will likely be left disappointed. However, timing also comes into play when you are taking candid pictures of children. If you are looking to document a Kodak moment you will need to be on your toes. Follow your child’s every move with your camera, and be ready to press the shutter button in an instant.

When shooting children or animals it is a good idea to keep your finger on the shutter button while you follow your unpredictable subjects in your viewfinder. You can save time by gently squeezing the button rather than popping your finger down on it. This method also reduces shutter lag and image fuzziness. You may also want to invest in a telephoto lens. If a child or animal is completely unaware of your presence, he is more likely to act naturally.

Related Articles:

Shooting the Perfect Portrait

Telling A Story With Your Shots

Natural Framing

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.

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