Photographing Children with Melissa Avey

I like the choice of black and white processing. It keeps the focus on the subjects and not the living room.

I’ve asked five Canadian photographers to offer their best tips for photographing children.  First is what I learned from Melissa Avey who lives in Cambridge, Ontario with her husband and three children.

With Candid Photography if you take the time to de-clutter the shot, you might just miss it.  Using a Nikon D800, Melissa snapped her son and her Father-in-Law, aka Papa, in his living room.   The smaller jacket was for a child of one of his colleagues from years ago, so there were a lot of memories for him with it.  “Now,” Avey says, “we have the memory of our son and Papa being cool together in their jackets!”

Many times the shot is better when the subjects are involved in the pose.  Melissa said that Grandpa is a forensic accountant and it was his idea for them to show their backs.

The space around the subjects is interesting as it emphasizes at once the strength and fragility of fathers and sons.

As for Professional Portraits, this outdoor one of father and sons was taken on a Nikon D7100.  Melissa’s tip is to invite grandparents to the session to watch or get in on the action.   Avey says, “Even if it’s just that one image, if Grandma is around, include her.  It will be a special moment for her and living memory for you and your children.”

Melissa is right when she says that the memories created are truly the most important part of the photograph, but for more reasons than you think.  As an anthropologist, I’ve learned pictures passed down through family members or archived as part of a societal history, like literature and music connect us to spaces, time and Culture of our collective human past.  Like the 1951 image by UPI photographer Arthur Sasse of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue or the 1985 photograph taken by Steve McCurry of Afghan refugee, Sharbat Gula, our curiosity drives us to learn more.

I found Melissa’s gallery of poses very quiet and contemplative.  Her photographs are of all ages and in variety of places, but my favourites are those with young children outdoors.  She too admitted the same, ” Especially in the pretty winter light.  It’s usually so soft coming through windows.”

Melissa is an accredited member of the National Association of Professional Child Photographers.  She serves Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and even Toronto, if you bring chocolate.  Website: Phone:  (519) 240 6494

Next week, we’ll feature the advice of Hope Hanson-Baker of Plum Tree Photography in Mississauga, Ontario.

Photographing Children – a five week series

Photographing Children - a five week series

I love photography, but am challenged by my squirmy toddler granddaughter who blows me a raspberry every time I aim the camera her way. Every Wednesday for the next five weeks, I’ll be offering the advice of Canadian photographers who all have very different styles, but surprisingly simple advice for taking pictures of children.