1. Don't ask kids to "Say Cheese." if you want authentic photos, don't try and get kids to smile at the camera. this will only get you strained "picture faces".
2. Tell a story. when photographing kids, they might not always want to look at the camera, they might want to bend down to look at a rock, or play with a stick. there are many different ways to tell a story, and you don't always need the child's face to be front and center. Try capturig them from different perspectives and angles — this might be pictures of little hands or feet in the sand.
3. Explore. when photographing children, allow them to look around and explore; give them the sense that they are leading; some great moments can be captured this way--when the child isn't being forced into doing something specific. having the child do an activity such was making pancakes or collecting leaves can be a great way to engage the child and get some compelling images.
4. Be playful. Don't take yourself too seriously; make up games to help engage the kids. put leaves on your head; challenge them to find the "eyeball" that winks at them from the lens (this will allow you get shot of them looking up into the camera). don't be afraid to play and shoot.
5. Be Relaxed. When kids get the sense that you are not relaxed, they will sense it and it will produced strained images. go with the flow and the children will feel more comfortable, which will help them be themselves and this will help produce beautiful, authentic images!
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(Images: Shelby Brakken)