I feel so lucky to have a creative husband, and even luckier that he’s worked with the very talented photographer Evan Kafka. He does amazing work with kids, and has shot for big companies including Parenting Magazine and Huggies. I had the opportunity to pick his brain a bit, and share some of his tips for capturing those perfect moments with your own children. Enjoy!
How do you get the perfect reaction / expression from a baby?
Be ready and shoot a lot. Work the moment. Don’t just stop at one or two photos. Keep the camera close by. Also, it helps to have a friend play peekaboo behind your head while you shoot. It can be helpful to get in close, so you can engage your baby while you photograph. It’s nice if you can reach them and tickle them from time to time.
How do you get your little ones to follow direction?
That’s a tough one. When I’m shooting my kids, I just try to be ready. Like an ultra famous movie star once said to me “you’re gonna have to work with what you get”. It can be very frustrating. I try to make it fun, keep it interesting for them. When they are really small, we just try to set them up. If we want a crawling shot, we give them something to crawl towards and then get their attention when they reach the optimal area for the photograph. For tighter headshots it’s helpful to have someone hold them in certain ways so the adult is not really visible.
What lens would you recommend to parents who have a DSLR?
I think everyone should have at least one fast, or bright, lens. These are lenses with a large maximum aperture or lens opening. It’s confusing because the lower the number, the bigger the aperture, and the more light passes through. The most affordable fast lens is usually a 50mm. They are usually F1.8 or 1.4, much brighter than any zoom lens. These will allow you to shoot in low light without flash. You can use a large aperture, even in bright light, which gives you a very shallow focus effect that can help soften a busy background.
What is a fun DIY type solution to create a solid white background for your photo shoot?
Seamless paper by Savage is not that expensive. It comes in 4.5′ or 9′ wide rolls. B&H will ship it for about $15 and many local camera shops carry it in white. We usually hang the roll up and drape it down but that requires stands and a crossbar. It’s also possible to tape the top to a wall or the side of your garage and then sweep it with a soft bend and roll some out along the ground/floor. You could also try it with a sheet but you will probably see wrinkles unless you can keep it very bright. Pay attention to the light where you are setting it up. Unless the light is exceptional, it’s probably best to set it up in a shaded area or, if you’re indoors, at about 45-90 degrees to a window with indirect sunlight. Or, if you have an external flash, you could experiment with bouncing it off a ceiling or wall.
What is the best tip you can give for any mom or dad who wants to do a photoshoot of her child?
Luck favors the prepared. Get everything set and ready, maybe while your baby is napping. The worst thing, and believe me it’s happened to me, is to be having some sort of technical problem while your baby is happy and ready. We all know they have a limited attention span. If you’re not ready, better to wait until you are before you present the situation to your child. Also, do some test shots of a doll or stuffed animal to make sure things are looking good. And if the phone rings, don’t answer it!
If possible, leave things set up for a day or two, incase your baby is not in the mood and you can try again later.
A big thank you to Evan for all of his great tips! If you’d like to know more about Evan, or see more of his work, please check out his website & blog:
* All photos in this post are property of Evan Kafka, and may not be used without his permission.