Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!
Be prepared. You would do well to take heed of this advice no matter what photography shoot you are undertaking. If you are well prepared from the outset, the job should be all that more enjoyable for all concerned and that makes for better pictures.
If possible, visit the family a few days in advance to get to know them and the children and learn their names. This way you won’t be a stranger on the day and everyone is more relaxed, especially the children as you call them by their first names and introduce some familiarity to them.
You can also have a look around, and start to formulate a plan as to where and how you will photograph the child/children. Also, ensure you have enough media storage or film to cover the shoot, and make sure all your photography equipment is there with batteries fully charged etc.
Talking of which, you need to remember which of your equipment actually has batteries in and remember to charge them all. There is nothing worse than turning up to a job only to have the speedlights run out of power at the last minute. Check your flashguns, cameras, Pocket Wizards (if you are lucky enough to have them), or even your external battery packs which can be used to power studio lights, cameras and speedlights.
Once you have the power sorted, check the rest of your kit…be prepared. Make sure your sensor is dust free to prevent the hassle of having to clone out dust spots in Photoshop later on. To do this, go outside, focus on a clear part of the sky (set the focus to infinity as there will be nothing for the camera to “lock” onto) and set the aperture to around f16.
Now, fill the frame with blue or white sky and take a shot. Get the image onto your computer and using the levels tool or contrast sliders, darken the image and see if any spots appear. Watch out for things like small bugs in the sky as they can sometimes appear as dust spots, especially on the higher resolution sensors.
Once you know that your kit is ready, prepare yourself with a good night’s sleep!
Part of learning how to be prepared is getting to know your photographic equipment inside out is the best thing you can do if you are serious about photography. Knowing what settings to use and being able to change them in an instant is a huge benefit when shooting fast moving, ever changing subjects like children.