Capturing pictures of kids at play indoors

Maya Guerrero gets a hug from one of her students on their last day of class meeting.

When Maya Guerrero, center director of Circle City Music Together needed some promotional stills, she invited me and my cameras into one of her classes.

Even without making a reconnaissance trip, I had some notion of what to expect.

Most studios whether it’s for ballet, dance or even a martial arts dojo have at least one large mirror the size of an entire wall.

Big windows in the background can create ghosting especially at low shutter speeds. Sometimes all you can do is pan and drag the shutter like in this shot where parents and their kids are circling as they sing and dance.

Those engaged in dance or some activity where they use their entire body will always want to check out their form, that’s why.

Having 2 camera bodies with different focal lengths lenses and 2 radio transmitters allows you to work as if you're shooting with available light. You know your exposure because the scene is lit. All you need to do is concentrate on the action, compose and capturing the moment.

Depending on the orientation of the doors and windows, large mirrors can be a hindrance.

A class where the parents get as good a workout as the children is why Maya's class is such a hit.

Since this is a music class with parents and children, there will be lots of movement and the only way to capture this is to light it with flash.

Maya Guerrero knows very well how to hold the attention of her young students.

It also means if you plan to light, you will have a hard time hiding your lights from the mirrored wall.



Choosing their weapons of choice---everyone seems to share very well since there are sometimes not enough of a certain instrument to go around.
  • 2 light stands
  • 2 Cybersync receivers connected to 2 Canon Speedlights
  • 2 Cybersync transmitters set to the same frequency
  • Canon 5D M2 with a 17-35 zoom, Canon 40D with 80-200 zoom
The tossing of veils in the air is another favorite activity which gets the parents and kids off their feet and into action.

Ideally if I had the time, I would watch at least one session prior to the actual shoot to get an idea of what to expect but with young children, you should expect to just “wing it.”


Lighting the area takes care of your exposure so that all you need to be concerned about is to focus on the moments and using the right lens for the situation.

My speedlights were set 1/16th power so that they recycled quickly.

This was the only picture which needed more depth-of-field so I moved my lights closer to give me an exposure of ISO 200 f8 @1/30sec. Canon 5DMark2 17-35mm zoom. I had to add the little boy on in the right corner with Photoshop. By the time the class was over, he was not being cooperative.

All I needed was f2.8 at ISO 200 since I didn’t require a lot of depth-of-field except for the group shot at the end.


Note to self– do the group shot before the class and not at the end.

Peter Phun Photography

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