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How to Photograph and Edit Candid Kid Photos

Jared Polin February 17, 2011 26

This week I wanted to show you how I captured this candid of a very cute little girl at a bbq. In this video you will hear how I captured this image and see exactly how I tweaked the RAW file from the Nikon D3. I really wanted to make this picture go boom which I think I was able to do.

I was a little concerned with cutting off some of the little girls hair but I don’t think it takes away from the image. What do you think, does cutting her hair off effect this image, please leave a comment.


Nikon D3 Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR1
1/500th F3.2 ISO 1250
Shot RAW not Cropped


  1. GTF100 February 17, 2011 at 11:47 am -

    Whats up Fro!! I really like this shot Jared and how you edited it. Her shirt is nice and pink and skin tones look good too. I do not think that small bit of hair lost in the shot makes any difference. If any part of the back of her head was cut off then I think it would look funny.

    SEE YEAHHHH!!!!!!

  2. Keith G February 17, 2011 at 11:58 am -

    Her eyes definitely look clearer in the edit you have posted under the video, and it looks like you did a little more tweaking after besides? It’s definitely brighter, and her eye shows a little more white. Did you go back and re-adjust? use the adjustment brush on that eye maybe?

    Lovely shot, I wouldn’t worry about the hair, personally I probably wouldn’t leave as much green space to the left, I’d crop in a small bit. I shoot kids all the time, having a 3yr old is great for practice :) – and of course, by shoot, I mean with my D90 😉

    • Jared Polin February 17, 2011 at 12:07 pm -

      there were no extra edits added after, just exported form lightroom as is.

  3. Todd February 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm -

    Love it Jared! I really don’t think that cutting off her hair matters, as I don’t think it detracts from the shot at all. I would agree with GTF100 that if it would have been any part of the back of her head, then it would have looked funny.

  4. Lauren February 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm -

    Thanks for this! I shoot a lot of candid kid pictures. They move so fast it is hard to get that perfect composition. Anyhow, I don’t think that missing some of the hair is a big deal. My focus is on her hands and her face, which is where I think it should be. Thanks again for this. I would love at some point to get tips on shooting children indoors and in low light with a DSLR like the my D7000.

  5. Viktor Svensson February 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm -

    Love the photo! The colours are amazing!

    I just have to have the “holy/hebrew trinity”!!

  6. Keith G February 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm -

    Of course I forgot youtube’s terrible compressing! d’oh :) The still on site looks much better than the still on the end of the clip if you pause and directly compare them.

    Lovely image

  7. Brad February 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm -

    Agreed. Nice shot. Works well with very minimal editing. The hair cutting is not a huge deal in this case with the arms/hands/face all sharp. I think the contrast is a little over boomed for my taste and might have stopped around the 50-70 mark.

  8. Mark February 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm -

    Something tells me Greg would have gone to the tone curve to bring up the highlights instead of the exposure/black combo.

    Nice photo, though.

  9. Anhelyna February 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm -

    Jared , in my mind you were correct choosing that particular shot – pity about the hair but you got the face and eyes- and they are the interesting features.

    You showed the other 2 shots – the first one the hands were low and on the second one – yes you got the hair BUT the face was missed and a child’s face is very important at that age .

  10. sic0048 February 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm -

    I do think this was the best overall photo of the three. That being siad, I think the last picture without the hair cutoff is definitely composed better, however the face isn’t as good. So I understand why Jared used this picture. It’s a fine picture, but it would be better if the hair wasn’t cut off.

  11. Peter Dudek aka Wishmaster February 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm -

    Nice candid shoot, but just a we but over boom for me as some details are lost and very strong (oversaturated) colors are thrwoing at my eyes :]. Good in general keep up the good work m8.

    • KyleSTL February 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm -

      I agree that the colors are too intense and it is distracting. Overall, good shot and love the bokeh. I’m surprized how much vingetting there is in the VR I.

      • Peter Dudek aka Wishmaster February 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm -

        This 70-200mm vignietting on full frame on crop ther is not that much vignietting. When I asked guy from Nikon on one of there events he told me this MKI wasn’t designed for digital, well such us life :].

  12. Mike in Tulsa February 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm -

    I don’t think the hair getting cut is a big deal at all. I probably wouldn’t even have noticed it if you hadn’t mentioned it. This is a wonderful image! The bokeh is amazing!!! Great job, Jared!

  13. Edu February 17, 2011 at 6:30 pm -

    super over boomy! :)
    Great bokeh!

  14. elfa February 17, 2011 at 6:44 pm -

    I really like the picture!…the colours,sharpness, seperation from the background…the hair doesn’t bother me the main thing is her face and hands…kind are moving so fast and its very difficult to capture a moment we want to capture…

  15. n0vaheart February 17, 2011 at 8:54 pm -

    I don’t like that your fro is cut off at the top of the shot on your webcam 😉

  16. Warren February 17, 2011 at 10:29 pm -

    Nice shot great bokeh, the little girl just looks TOO much in contrast, perhaps a little more subtle in the boomification.. My opinion only, hope it counts

  17. James February 17, 2011 at 10:55 pm -

    I like the shot, it is not a deal breaker about the hair but just maybe it would be better to have the tips of her hair there. The position of her compared the the backdrop is great. Her face is what makes the photo.

  18. Steffen February 18, 2011 at 4:48 am -

    Hey Fro !

    Cutting off the Hair isn’t a big deal to me. But what I don’t like about the composition in this picture is the car in the background. This white flat area above her head is really distracting.

    That’s my opinion.

  19. Psycho_onWEED February 18, 2011 at 5:56 am -

    what do you think is the best for nikon d3000
    Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD IF
    nikon 35mm f/1.8

    (i currently have the stock 18-55)

    Thank you :)

  20. Psycho_onWEED February 18, 2011 at 6:01 am -

    what do you think is the best for nikon d3000

    Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD IF
    nikon 35mm f/1.8

    (i currently have the stock 18-55)

  21. Jason February 18, 2011 at 9:19 am -

    Instead of adjusting the overall contrast slider, I use the Tone Curve. I switch to a “strong” tone curve (instead of the default which is “linear”), drop the “Shadows” slider to -15 and the “Darks” to -10. I set this as part of my Import preset, so this is applied to all of my pictures when I import them into Lightroom. I don’t even have to think about it anymore. It is my new starting point and is usually good for most situations. I then only make small tweaks (either to the “contrast” slider or the Tone Curve itself)if needed.

  22. Tina February 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm -

    I like this post alot! The hair chopped off a little is not a big deal. I’ve always wondered how photographers made ordinary pictures look like magazine worthy shots.