Friday, March 25, 2011

The Secret to Photographing Children

Ok, Maybe tip would be a better word. Since many of them are obvious, we just seem to forget them in the moment when we are trying to get that perfect photo of a child. If you find you are having trouble catching those moments, I hope this post will help you out. There are several great photography sites out there with all sorts of great tips on photographing children…just google that and you'll find many. Below I have given you my top 6 but there are many more ideas on how to engage a child that's in front of the camera!

No. 1. Be patient. 
Seems obvious, like I said, but it can be so frustrating. Especially when you are trying to capture something specific and they are not buying into it. Being calm and talking to them quietly really is the best way to go. If you're flustered by their actions, they'll know it and you won't get your shot for sure! Sometimes during the time spent trying to get that "perfect" shot, you get something even better. 

No. 2. Learn your camera.
Again obvious. You have to know your camera. Kids are quick and if you have to spend time messing with settings you are going to miss the shot you are looking for. So, know your comfort level, if it's a situation where playing with your camera is not an option and you have to capture it, set it to what you know. Do your test shots before, so you can plan for lighting, etc. The more you play with settings in manual (which I try to use most of the time) you'll know pretty much where you need to be with just a few tweaks.

No. 3. Get on their level both literally and figuratively.
In the literal sense…photographing a child on their level makes such a difference. The perspective of the shots is so wonderful when they aren't just taken from the height of an adult looking down on their activity. Get in there, be willing to get a little dirty. In the figurative sense…talk to them on their level, get involved in their lives, their interests. Become a playmate for the child. Play with them and don't make it so much about the camera, let it fall into the background. When they are comfortable, the real fun will begin. 

No. 4. We don't all smile all of the time.
Forget making them smile. We don't all smile all of the time. Some of my favorite portraits of my oldest girl were taken when she was 9 months old. It was during a portrait session and the photographer was so bound and determined to make her smile. She just wasn't going to do it and I was sensing our "happy" time fading. I finally said just take what you get, I don't care if she is smiling or not. Her "serious" look was so cute. I love looking back at those photos. Her thoughts look so deep. Who knows what she was thinking but I like to come up with ideas. She was probably thinking the photographer was a nut and why are they all in my face yelling at me to do something I don't want to do.

No. 5. Pay attention.
Frequently, a child will drive where a photo session is going to go. Let them. Some of the best pics come from watching a child engaged in something that interests them. The one below of my  baby girl was all about her wearing that bandana (or as she calls it "badana"). She wanted to show it off. And the one below that of my oldest…it was as if she were a model and it was all about the poses. She made up most of them without me really having to give her much direction. She was having fun with it...I don't think the sunglasses, tutu and attitude of being a brand new 4 year old, at the time, hurt either! Let them lead you and then be ready. How many times do they do that one amazing thing when you put the camera down.

No. 6. Have fun!
If you aren't enjoying taking the photos, they won't enjoy having their picture taken. So make it fun. Let them see the photos on the back of the camera, if they want. Let them be a part of it! No one's going to die if you don't get the photo, so have fun with it and then, I promise, you will get it!


  1. Wonderful advice....and such adorable shots!!!! So far I'm finding children to be the's the adults that are difficult for me!!!!

  2. Great advice! Running toddlers are so tough... is is hard to just keep them in focus.

  3. These are great tips! I wish there was a secret to photography a 6 month old haha its so hard getting a decent picture of my daughter at this age!! :)

    The Sweetest Life

  4. These are GREAT tips for photographing kids. Especially the knowing your camera one. That's a BIG help...

  5. My son LOVES to have his photo taken but he makes the stupidest faces. So it's hard to get a nice shot.

  6. you did an awesome post for photographing children here, one of the most difficult photography subjects to get right.

    Child photography is all about getting that cute innocence which we can't see anywhere else.. these innocent child faces tells you are awesome in the art.

    cu around and best wishes from Kerala.. the god's own country.


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