Photographing Kids in Action without Looking Through the Viewfinder

Standing still and taking family portraits is hella boring.
Racing through a field with giggly little boys is hella fun.

I was at the pumpkin patch last weekend and I wanted action photos. The boys took off and I went with them, camera held down low by my knees (I had no idea what the lens was focusing on), clicking, hoping that this playful moment would be captured beautifully…not blurry…please don’t be blurry!!

The first photo shoot I ever did at the Happy Film Company was on a beach in Maui, HI. The kids were in bathing suits running around and splashing in the water. I held my camera inches above the water, praying the salty liquid would not attack and ruin my equipment.

Through shoots like this, I learned how to work quickly, dangerously and keep up with kids. The camera had to become a part of my body; I had to learn what it was pointing at even without looking through it.

This is a super useful skill to practice — take pictures without looking through the viewfinder; lift the camera above your head, hold it out to the side, run with it down by your feet. It’s mental math; you’ll end up subconsciously calculating the angle of the camera and the light and this will free you up to move around more and interact face to face (not hiding behind the camera). It’s a lot of trial and error. At first, most of your photos will be ugly and useless. Keep practicing. You’re training muscle memory here.

Chamonix :)

Photographer: Chamonix
Location: Oxbow Farm, Snoqualmie Valley
Activity: Pumpkin Patch