Years back when I was in my early 20's much of my time was spent working with Middle School students in a local youth ministry. I felt right at home with junior highers. All of the rough housing, awkwardness and silly jokes were what made each gathering an adventure.
In contrast, my wife was working on becoming an elementary school teacher. She was right at home with very small children. The first few times I accepted her invitation to come and perform some music with the school children, were pretty disastrous. I had no idea how to talk to or relate to little kids. Then my wife gave me a simple pointer that changed everything.
At the time, I had no idea, just how much her advice would help me years later as I began offering portraiture to families with small children.
So what did she say?
She told me to get down on their level. Literally, kneel down so that I was face to face with them. It was amazing how such a simple approach changed everything.
How does this help someone improve their photography skills?
When you get down on the same level as the children, two things happen. First, the children really begin to open up. Imagine how intimidating it is to be small with everyone towering above them. By simply kneeling down and talking with a child face to face, they become less apprehensive and much more comfortable in their interactions with you.
The second benefit is a profound change in perspective. You notice things that you normally miss when you change the position from which you typically view them. Normally we see children from above. When we get down face to face with a child, all of their subtle expressions really start to reveal their unique personality.
Try it next time you are taking pictures of children. I promise you that it will vastly improve your photos and it will open a whole new world for your personal photography.