Travel photography is not only about places and landscapes. People, more than anything else, carry a lot of the essence of a given location. And that is why portraits taken while traveling can be so powerful.
A face can tell a story, and travel portraits can be a vehicle for sharing tales of faraway lands.
The photographic techniques involved in taking kids’ portraits are exactly the same as those that apply to adults. But as children tend to be more spontaneous and generally not worried about the end result, they usually look more natural. And this usually adds a little spark to the image.
Kids Want to be Photographed
In Western countries, parents aren’t generally happy if you photograph their kids without asking. But the truth is that in other parts of the world, such as Latin America or Asia, not only do kids love to be photographed, their parents like it too!
In India, for example, parents tend to be happy when you show an interest in clicking their son’s or daughter’s portraits. This means that you find them beautiful and find it worth taking their photo. They take is as a compliment.
If you happen to be photographing out on the street and you come by a kid that smiles openly at you, get the message. “I want to be in your photo!”, is usually it.
Kid in India, “asking” for a photo with a big smile
Some of the best portraits of kids are candid shots. If you watch them do something amusing, try to click before they even realize you’re paying attention.
Guatemalan girl is too busy minding her ice-cream to realize all eyes are on her
Indian working kid pauses to contemplate a park of people playing around him. The shot was taken zooming in, to avoid destroying the moment
Be quick and you’ll manage to freeze in your image the excitement or soul of moments that often go by quickly, and can’t be re-done.
Little girl doesn’t realize she’s being photographed, in Ecuador
Colombian baby sees that he is being photographed, but is probably too young to understand, so he doesn’t react
But if the kids realize that you’re photographing them, don’t stop clicking. Sometimes, they’ll be happy to share their playful spirit with you and that’ll show in your photos positively.
Cuban children having fun in La Habana
Colombian teens start posing for once they realize they’re being photographed
Cambodian kids react with laughter once they realize their photo is being taken
This little girl’s Mom asked to take a photo of her daughter because she wanted to be on the internet so wish granted
Try to include surroundings for context when you think that adds to the picture. Good shots aren’t only those in front of representative landmarks or easily recognizable surroundings. Sometimes, the simplest of photos, can have a lot of soul.
A couple of brothers in rural Cambodia, helping prepare vegetables for lunch
Cambodian kid who was having fun playing with a cow out in the streets
Let the Children play… with your Camera!
Don’t underestimate how much kids love to be in photos. Specially in developing countries where clicking selfies with the phone might not be that common yet.
A little girl in Peru using a tourist’s camera to play around
If you want to obtain creative results, you may want to let the children be their own photographers. Even when it is their very first time using a camera, the images can be great. And, if nothing else, you’ll give a kid the opportunity of experiencing what it is like to capture the world in a frame. Thanks to digital cameras, they can click away without wasting your film. And, what’s best, is that they can see the fruits of their own work on the screen in the very same moment.
A kid in La Habana, using the front camera of an iPhone 4S for the first time
Don’t be too over-protective of your camera and you’ll see how much fun this can be when you meet curious kids willing to interact.
Don’t hide yourself behind the camera
If fun photos is what you’re after, it’s never a bad idea to get in the action too! Selfies are fun and, if you’re surrounded by smiley kids posing away, they can be even better!
Hand the camera to someone else for a while and go play. Not only will you have great photo memories with the kids, you’ll also manage to break the ice with them more effectively. That way, you establish a complicity that will be useful to make yourself welcome to click even more shots of them.
Making friends with a kid in Ethiopia, which I photographed by himself afterwards too
Have fun photographing kids around the world. The good spirits will show in your images!
Zara is a Portuguese blogger who quit her job in Dubai in 2011 to travel around the world with her husband Ashray, from India. They’re the team behind Backpack ME, a travel site that aims to share tips and ideas with people all over the place, inspiring them to go travel, no matter where they come from!
A&Z are East meets West and Backpack ME is all about a multicultural perspective on travel: http://www.bkpk.me
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