Children are some of the most enjoyable subjects to photograph, but they can also be some of the most challenging! Today I want to share with you some tips on how to photograph kids. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a professional mom, grab your camera and let’s get started!
1. Have realistic expectations. (This is the most important thing to remember!) Small children are unlikely to sit perfectly still and follow directions and smile a natural looking smile, all while looking straight at the camera. It doesn’t mean that the kids are bad, it just means that they’re kids.
2. Give them something to do. If you say “Hey, let’s go out and take some pictures” you’ll probably be answered with groans of protest. But if you say, “Hey, let’s go outside with your skateboard!” then you might get a little more cooperation! You could not only take pictures of the child riding it, but holding it, sitting on it, or working on a trick would all make for some really cool photos! And these pictures will tell so much more about your subject than just a “sit there and say cheese” photo.
Just try to think of things they can do that will work well for pictures. It can be a big or a small activity. Here are some ideas:
- play an instrument
- go picking in an orchard
- read a favorite book
- climb trees
- pick dandelions or other flowers
- have a picnic
- tend or harvest a vegetable garden
- make cookies (if you have good lighting in your kitchen)
- play croquet or another outside game
…there are so many possibilities!
For this photo shoot with my kids, I had a fun beat up old truck for them to explore, a vintage tricycle, and a bushel of apples to play with!
3. Work for a REAL smile. For almost all kids, simply saying “smile” or “cheese” will get you an awkward expression. If you want a real smile, you’re going to have to work for it. Break out your crazy dance moves, potty talk, or have them imagine their dad in a pink fluffy tutu! For older kids, asking about the opposite sex usually brings out a cute little smile. And the really little ones like to sing songs. For extra silliness, replace a song lyric with some kind of crazy word.
4. Be nice. Everyone, even kids, appreciate a kind, patient demeanor. And sincere compliments will help the kids to feel good about the picture taking process. Your attitude is the key to keeping the stress level as low as possible.
5. Keep it well timed and short. Photographing tired, hungry, or distracted kids can be frustrating for you and for them, so choose a time of day where they’ll be happy, well rested and fed. And remember that their attention span is usually pretty short.
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These tips have worked great for me throughout the years and I hope they’ll help you get some great images of your kids that you’ll always treasure!
This post originally published on Somewhat Simple in August 2011