street photography and children

Started Jul 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
newsshooterjim
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Re: street photography and children
In reply to mrb375, Sep 24, 2012

Funny, I hear all this talk about having problems photographing kids, and I have yet to have a real issue. I do it, day in and day out, for a local newspaper. Yeah, I'm a 50 year old guy who spent yesterday at a "play in the park" festival getting pictures of strangers kids. No one questioned me about it. Not once during the entire day. Of course, this was at a festival, and I did have a media credential hanging around my neck.

I've found a few things that help.

First, a couple of rules.

1-don't be furtive or sneaky-be up front about it. If you're hiding behind trees, or sneaking shots, you'll get called out about it. Wade right in and do it.

2-If a parent or child is uncomfortable, leave them alone. It's not worth it.

3-Be willing to show what you've got, and delete if asked by that childs parent. As a journalist, I don't have to show anyone anything, and none of us has to delete anything. If it's a true news event, I'll stand my ground. But for something like I've described below, mom wins, period.

If I go to a playground for something like a random pic to illustrate the start of summer, the very first thing I do is find the biggest, meanest mom on the playground, walk right up and introduce myself, offering a business card. After about 2 minutes of explanation and discussion, I have yet to have them ask me not to shoot.

One thing I've learned is that it takes kids about 5 minutes to move on and ignore me. At first, they're mugging for the camera, but then they get back to being kids, and the pics start to work.

This last point brings up something. If you know your area, don't be bashful about becoming known at a local park as the guy who always has a camera. Be friendly, share shots with them, and never, never, never let yourself get into a compromising position. It's the same idea that people use when studying wildlife. After a while, you fade into the background, and they act natural around you.

Jim Dean

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