Suggestions for photographing kids in a classroom?

turnthedarncranksturnthedarncranks Posts: 116Member
edited March 2013 in General Discussions
Hi, all. Later today I will be photographing a bunch of kids in an elementary school classroom. The kids are half "big" kids (4th grade) who serve as mentors to pre-K and kindergarten students, with the mentees being the other half. Mostly the big kids read to the small, although they do an art project together as well. They will be spread over the classroom, on the floor and at small tables. I did the same thing in the fall and ended up with boring photos, despite spending lots of time in the floor and at the kids' eye level Although I accept that the end result isn't going to be anything too creative or groundbreaking, I thnk there has to be something I can do to end up with something other than a few hundred snapshots of kids sitting next to each other with books.

I will be using a D7K and have the 18-105 and 55-300 kit lenses, as we'll the 35mm 1.8. There's decent light I'm the rooms thanks to windows, although there are of course less than stellar fluorescent lights as the primary lighting. I have an SB400, which I used some of the time last time.

So, considering the above, any suggestions? Sorry for the short fuse -- we thought the trip would be canceled due to weather.

Post edited by turnthedarncranks on


  • dissentdissent Posts: 1,339Member
    You can use the SB-400 for fill light (and bounce flash), just watch your ISO. On my D5100, Auto-ISO takes the ISO values up high with a flash in the hot shoe under certain circumstances; best to take it out of Auto-ISO. Don't know if the D7000 works the same way. I'm guessing the 35mm and the wide end of the 18-105 would work well for group shots. Candids with the longer lens. Use the window light if it's any good. Definately shoot RAW because of the mixed lighting. An amateur's $0.02.
    - Ian . . . [D7000, D7100; Nikon glass: 35 f1.8, 85 f1.8, 70-300 VR, 105 f2.8 VR, 12-24 f4; 16-85 VR, 300 f4D, 14E-II TC, SB-400, SB-700 . . . and still plenty of ignorance]
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    edited March 2013

    I was an Artist-in-Residence for a K-9 school and that grade is really easy to please.

    Technically, make sure that there is a white sheet somewhere you can dip to white for white balance in Adobe Camera Raw and shoot in Auto White Balance.

    They sound 'gifted and talented' so give them rein and let them help you with the staging - I'm sure the will have good ideas. Their 'buy in' is what you'll need to make great pictures.

    Make sure they have fun. Let then climb on furniture and desks, Let them make faces at the camera, do what's unexpected, be edgy, play act - it's their time to be different and it's part of their 'buy in'.

    My best,


    Edited for clarity...
    Post edited by MikeGunter on
  • DJBee49DJBee49 Posts: 133Member
    edited March 2013
    Personally I would avoid flash if possible. You will draw attention to yourself and alter the kid's behaviour. Use your camera's high ISO abilities if possible

    Shooting Raw is good and as you have mixed lighting, you will have less to do in post if you manually set WB. I think almost the most important thing is to spend a lot of time just being there, moving slowly and shooting only a few pictures at first. The kids will just ignore you after a while. Also, introducing yourself and telling the children what you are doing is important. Similarly, make sure that the teacher(s) know that you want to spend considerable time in the classroom. Many people imagine that you will just take 5 or 6 shots and leave unless you brief them properly. Firing off shots like a machine-gun will similarly add drama and draw attention to yourself. Gentle, single shots may be best.

    What is the purpose of the shots? If they are for the school for publicity your approach would be different from a personal project. Publicity shots might need some setting up of scenes as well as 'fly on the wall' shots. Mix shots- close-ups, medium, group shots for variety (think how films are shot and put together with cutting)- the zooms will help here. If appropriate 'cut aways' can be good, non-specific shots of pencil pots or coats on a rack. They can help balance and link images together in a picture story.

    Your 35mm f 1.8 may be good if the light levels are low, otherwise I would say the 18-105 will be more useful than the 55-300 and anything with VR on it would be handy too.

    Mike's approach above could be fun and different from my suggestions. It depends what you want. Try both approaches maybe!
    Good luck!
    Post edited by DJBee49 on
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    Go with the 35 1.8.
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • turnthedarncranksturnthedarncranks Posts: 116Member
    Thanks, all. Very helpful. The buddy program is a community service project, so the photos will be used internally as a record and possibly in a sideshow or other puff piece.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    If I were doing it I would use the 18mm on crop sensor, D7000. I shot with FX a 24mm and like the ability to have background info with sharp primary subject. Shooting at f/4 or 4.5 will do this a little bit. The 35mm wide open will allow some fuzzy background if up close as well. I like to get intimate in the photo, wide angle, up close, but be extremely careful not to distort heads or faces, noses, etc.

    Msmoto, mod
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,545Moderator
    Hot tip: Hire a Crusty the Clown outfit. Your gear is OK. :))
    Always learning.
  • turnthedarncranksturnthedarncranks Posts: 116Member
    Thanks again everyone. Haven't had a chance to upload the photos yet, but I think I got at least a handful of good shots, largely by lying on the ground and shooting kids from the side when they didn't see me. But we'll see.
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