How to photograph kids everyday on film

Photograph your kids everyday on film is not as hard as you think.  With the proper gear set up and the right film in your camera, you are good to go.  Here are 5 quick tips I use to photograph my own kids on film: 1. Shoot close and wide

35mm to 28mm lenses are my go to when I am out and about with my children.  I find that the angle and length of a 35mm is most versatile:

  1. I can shoot in a tighter space and "be there" with my kids without having to back up too far.
  2. I can also shoot portraits without too much distortion.
  3. I can pull back and shoot wide for an environmental image

In fact, I love the wide angle lens so much that all of my medium format SLR cameras are now equipped with 35mm focal length equivalent lenses.

©Joyce C. Kang 2013-NRkang001120-R9-E177001

2. Keep it Simple

It doesn't matter if I am planning to shoot indoors or outdoors,  I always make sure to pack my bag with the intention to photograph children.  I don't know about you, but my kids are movers and shakers (in the literal sense of these words)!  Gone are the days when I load my bag down with a camera and 3 lenses for "just-in-case" situations.  Simplicity is mom's best friend, wouldn't you agree?  These are my essentials when I am heading out with my children:

  1. one camera and one lens
  2. handheld light meter
  3. film speed of 400 or faster, ie. Portra 400, TriX 400, or Ilford 3200 (although I do like to throw in Ektar and Slidefilm in the mix)

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3. Let there be {bright sun} light


Although I prefer to shoot in soft and pleasing lighting such as open shade and golden hour, I am no longer confined myself to shoot ONLY under these lighting.  With film's amazing highlight latitude, I can shoot during mid-day bright sun without worrying about blown highlights.  I am a happier mom because I no longer have to deal with cranky, hungry and exhausted kids in the late afternoon/evening hours.  Here are a few things I always keep in mind when I am out shooting under bright sunlight:

  1. be mindful of unpleasing shadows
  2. utilize The Zone System to expose film
  3. know the stop differences between highlights and shadows

©Joyce C. Kang-SBWkang000711-R1-E003001©Joyce C. Kang-HPBkang000922-R1-E010002

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4. Let them be kids

Let the kids be who they  I let my kids run, jump, and go nuts as long as they keep themselves and others safe.  In my opinion, "looking into the camera and smile" portraits are over-rated.  I love capturing my children's childhood authentically on film.

©Joyce C. Kang 2013-3909003946-R1-E017002©Joyce C. Kang 2013-3909003946-R1-E010002

5. Relax and enjoy

Allow yourself to put down the camera and enjoy the moment with your family.  This is something I started to do when I go on a family outing: I would put away the camera after shooting just one roll of 35mm/220 film or 2 rolls of 120 film.  Believe me, it's HARD to do when I see so many "kodak" moments missed by not having my camera.  However, what is more important in my heart is spending real and quality time with my guys.  I don't want my kids to see a photographer, but a mother who is there and present for them!

©Joyce C. Kang 2013-CCkamg000527-R1-029-13001

Blog Contributor and Writer:  Joyce Kang

Joyce Kang selfie black and white on mamiya c330Joyce Kang is a fine art lifestyle children & family photographer in Austin Texas.  She is also a mentor and a film workshop instructor for Embrace The Grain.  She is married to her best friend and enjoys outdoors with her family.  She loves to curl up with a good book, binges on Netflix and has a terrible addiction to any thing that tops with a heaping scoop of ice cream drizzled with chocolate fudge!  Her next workshop starts March 1, 2015.  Mark your calendars now!

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