Emiliano Leonardi Photography | How cute! - kindergarten photography

How cute! - kindergarten photography

Accepting a kindergarten photography session is one of the easiest steps. 

Planning and organizing one is the second easiest.

Now shooting one is a hassle! Well it was the first time. Being so many and having little time I found that when I finish a preschool session I gained so many insights.

Hi! My name is Milo. And I like flowers...

Showing up with the camera in hand and walking in is threatening to all Lilliputs. Leaving my camera outside and bringing a notepad made the trick. I walked on my knees in the room, minding my own business, sat in a corner and wrote my name. As soon as I entered almost all the kids noticed my presence. When I wrote my name, drew a flower and colored it, the first most brave child came to me and watched. Once I was done, without speaking a word, I handed the pen over to the little girl and she started scribbling something. I then asked her name and introduced myself. I told her I liked flowers. She told me she liked biddybocks (= building blocks).

Well after that the rest of the kids came one after the other.

During this first phase I learned all their names, found out a little bit of something from each and what makes the special. But most importantly they knew me and felt as if another child entered their play room.


Where is what

While the kids, one by one, introduced themselves to me I made a list of names on the back of the notepad. While taking pictures by following the list I scouted the room for a nice background for the group picture. At the same time I looked for well lit areas and attracted the kids there for the best photogenic results. 


Camera settings

I showed up at 9:00 am in the morning. It was October and very sunny. These two factors themselves play a very important role. Because the camera settings depend on it. As it goes with how many windows and where.

So these camera setting I'll be listing will be valid for me, at that time, in that kindergarten, in that room. But can be used as general guidelines.

f/1.8             ISO 160             1/250             WB Kelvin (according if there was artificial light or sunlight this setting was changed often)

I also used ISO 320, 640 and 1250. You don't have to use exactly these values. Every camera might have them slightly different.

Handheld I mainly used an f/1.8, 2.0, 2.8 and 4.0. The shutter speed varied as I was shooting in AV mode. This enables me to have a very quick change when following a hyperactive child around the room, from lit areas to darker ones.

Try not to use flash to minimize the chances of freaking them out. By using an ISO setting of 400 or 800 you can increase the shutter speed and have very sharp shots. I'd recommend not going lower than 1/125th second and keep the aperture at f/1.8, 2.0, 2.8, 4.0 or 5.6 for natural photographs during the course of the day’s activities. One of the biggest perks of shooting digital is... Don't be afraid to press the shutter!! Shoot as many as you can. Because those kids won't be stopping for you. I always try to get a wide variety of scenes and compositions such as:

  • portraits of children during an activity
  • detail shots of the activity areas and toys
  • kindergarteners interacting with the children
  • kids' name tags on their lockers
  • playground shots or some outdoor activity

I tend to shoot constantly aiming to fill up at least 5 16GB CF cards for one group, at least I will have captured enough material. This will later offer a good selection to choose from.


In the end what really counts is...

And whether the child smiled or not, was looking at the camera or elsewhere, serious or puzzled expression, at least you will have captured them for the parents' enjoyment and in twenty years or so, the child’s enjoyment too.


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