If you notice your child engrossed in a new activity that seems to give them delight, then it’s time to grab hold of your camera. There’s a good chance they will repeat themselves.
Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in the company of young children will know that, once they have found a behaviour they enjoy, they’ll tend to repeat it over and over again.
There’s a well-established theory from behavioural psychology which describes the idea of Schemas. These are categories of repetitive behaviour that young children engage in.
And – as it turns out – repetition is a very useful behaviour from the point of view of taking photographs of your own child.
We’ve all noticed when children line things up again and again, or repeatedly try the same motion. Even making a massive mess of the place at home may well be part of this behaviour.
There’s a tendency at first to regard it as a bit weird; who hasn’t wondered at some stage if there’s something a bit strange about their child? (Er, just me then?)
But this behaviour is vital in a child’s development. If they don’t get a proper understanding of the mechanics of the world around them, they can’t build on this experience in later life.
(Note that this is rather different from my own tendency to repeat the same stories over and over again to my wife. Apparently.)
So how does this relate to photography?
If you notice your child engrossed in a new activity that seems to give them delight, then it’s time to grab hold of your smartphone or camera and get ready to photograph. Let’s say they’ve built a tower of bricks and knocked it down, or they’ve pushed their toy pram across the room into the wall and laughed hilariously. There’s a good chance they will repeat themselves.
After this it’s just a matter of patience. If you want to get the best photograph you can, don’t just take a quick snap and give up. Each time the child repeats this action then try to improve on your photograph from the last time. Don’t be afraid to take a lot of photos to get the one that you want. In time, you’ll get better at anticipating what’s going to come next and your photography will improve.
And if you’ve watched me on one of my documentary family photography sessions, you’ll know that I take a lot of photos of the same activity. I’ve got a pretty good idea when a child is about to repeat something, so I’ll get myself into the position to try to anticipate the next repetition. After that, you’ll see me moving around, constantly trying to improve on the composition and timing. I’ll probably only choose one of these photos for the final selection, and if the activity doesn’t re-occur I’ll simply move on and delete the photographs later.
Below I’ve included some of the compositions that didn’t work as well and probably wouldn’t see the light of day if it weren’t for this blog post.
Afterwards comes the difficult task of selecting the best photo. Which one would you choose from this selection?
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