People may be the most common subjects of photos, but I'll bet most of those photos are pictures of children. And those folks who don't have children around often seem to replace kid photos with pet photos. Children and pets require similar shooting styles.
Adults are usually capable of at least that oh-so-familiar forced smile, but kids often don't want to participate, and it's almost impossible to convince pets to pose. Give it up and shoot surreptitiously.
When kids or pets are playing, they may not notice you, so work fast and take lots of pictures, perhaps with your camera's burst mode (Figure B.9). Try to avoid calling out names, since that will almost certainly break the spell.
Figure B.9. Getting a cat and a child both looking photogenic at the same moment can be tricky unless you're willing to take lots of shots.
If the kids or pets realize what you're doing, just be patient and stay prepared in case you get another chance.
If you plan to take pictures of children, encourage them to wear brightly colored clothing. Lots of color can make your photos more eye-catching.
With both kids and pets, get down on their level (Figure B.10). Otherwise you end up shooting the tops of their heads.
Figure B.10. The fact that the camera is on Tristan's level, about a foot off the ground, provides a good perspective.
At zoos or similar attractions, try to photograph the child reacting to, or interacting with, the animals.
It can be great fun to involve kids in the decisions about what pictures to take, particularly if you're on a trip. Ask them what they'd like you to take pictures of, and let them set the scene (Figure B.11).
Figure B.11. Since Tristan loves trains, these abandoned mine trains at the Last Chance Basin Mining Museum in Juneau, Alaska, were a big hit. He asked me to take this photo and even agreed to pose in it.
Outdoor photos often work the best, perhaps because it's easier to get good, uncluttered backgrounds.