On a recent trip I had a chance to spend some time playing at a playground. We were visiting good friends and stopped at the playground to entertain their children on our way to dinner. Since my camera seems to be surgically attached, I naturally took it along even though we were walking a mile or so each way and I knew I’d end up carrying a child at least part of the way. My instinct was productive as the playground provided some nice photo-ops. As the children and, in some cases, adults, raced down slides I got a chance to shoot some action sequences with continuous shooting. While fun, the real treasure turned out to be simpler: I was on top of some sort of dinosaur shaped monkey bar contraption where you walk over the top while holding on to triangle shaped rings (think Stegosaurus). As I approached the end of the walk from tail to head, I was greeted with a fantastic scene. The greenish rubber that is the playground surface was the background. It had a few leaves scattered that made a nice contrast. Right there as I look downward, was one of the children, looking up at me with this colorful but not distracting background behind her. I took several shots and climbed down. I was now intent on finding other backgrounds for kids’ portraits. The blue tube that is a slide looked really good in the fading sunlight. The green tennis / raquetball practice wall was a good backdrop for an action shot of a running boy. Suddenly, everywhere I looked I saw decent backgrounds with thankfully little to distract from the foreground.
Next time you’re out looking for a good natural portrait scene for children or youthful adults, try the local playground.