Some digital point and shoot cameras even have a “kids” mode most of which boils down to the same exposure advice I’m gonna give you: Keep the shutter speed at speeds approaching or matching the highest flash synch mode that you camera offers. There are two reasons for this: Your small subjects are not going to stay still all that long; a fast shutter speed will freeze them in these few moments of repose or capture action, if that’s how you decide to capture them.
- Use flash. That’s the second reason for keeping the shutter speed at or near the camera’s synch speed. Flash will add sparkle and illumination to have the kids “pop” out from the background and fill in shadows because you won’t always be in the most perfect position to catch that special moment of fun.
- Pick a modest aperture. Select one that’s closer to wide open than the smaller apertures to minimize depth-of-field and soften the background. I always say that “if you take care of the background, the foreground will take care of itself” but the exception to this rule is when photographing kids.
- Select an ISO higher than you might otherwise choose. An ISO of 640-800 (or Auto ISO) is going to give you more flexibility with choosing shutter speed and aperture as well as squeeze a little more output from that tiny pop-up flash.
- Use Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority. Which even one works better for you but for smaller active kids, Shutter Priority will be best. Program mode, while tempting to use, might not be a good choose since it tends to favor increased shutter speed over aperture. Selecting either Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority mode you will be able to manage which of these two controls seems appropriate for a given situation.
More in Part II next week.