Places & Events

Photographing children during school plays

Written by Gail Bjork

You don’t want to miss that special moment of your child on the school stage. So get a good seat and get your digital camera and yourself ready with these helpful tips.

School auditoriumYou already know that you want your digital camera to be ready when your youngster appears on stage. Here’s some tips to make sure you get the best possible shots.

Arrive before the crowds

Get to the auditorium before the crowds. Find a good seat, close to the stage where the view will remain unobstructed. If a good seat is not available, stand at the back or side of the room. You’ll be able to shoot from those locations without blocking the view of others in the audience.

Avoid camera shake

Room lighting may be poor, so keep your camera as steady as possible. Brace it against your face with both arms pressed to your sides if there is no other means of camera support. If your camera has a viewfinder, use it rather than the LCD. It provides additional support when you press the camera against your face.

Use higher ISO numbers

If lighting is low, you may have to use high ISO. Be aware that higher ISO can produce image noise. However, when there are no other options, noise can later be minimized with noise reduction software and is often preferable to having blurred images.

Pre-focus

Unless you manually focus, pre-focus by depressing the shutter release button half-way, locking in focus and exposure before fully depressing the button.

Shut off the flash

Even if allowed to use a flash, it is generally ineffective when you’re beyond the camera’s maximum flash range. In most situations, it’s best to turn off the flash.

Avoid the digital zoom

Photos taken with a digital zoom are lower in quality. Use the optical zoom and crop later when editing.

Spot metering

Use the spot meter when taking photos of someone lighted on the stage. Lock exposure on or near the brightest area within the frame. Recompose before taking the shot.

White balance

Try to find out in advance the type of lighting used in the room. Adjust the camera’s white balance accordingly. Take test shots and check them on the LCD before the actual event. The image on the LCD should provide a fairly accurate indication if the white balance is set correctly.

Burst mode

Take some shots using continuous shot mode if your camer has one. The first images in the series are generally more blurred more than subsequent ones, but hopefully you’ll get a few keepers among the lot.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.