Tips for taking amazing children portraits

Photographing weddings and children are my all time favorite. But with each one, timing is everything. Especially when it comes to photographing children. Kids have an endless supply of energy and unless you are taking sports shots, this energy will definitely work against you.

It’s almost impossible to get children to sit still and twice as impossible to get the expression on their face that captures what you are looking for.

In my years of photographing children, I have used all sorts of tricks, props, prayers and a little bit of bribery to get children to sit just long enough to take the perfect shot. That’s all I need, but more importantly, that’s all I will get from jumping beans with legs. By the way, sometimes you just can’t get that perfect shot, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Maybe the next child will be right at home in front of a camera.

Older children have experience smiling in from of the camera. They have taken tons of school photos, so they are used to people telling them to say “cheese”. But for the younger ones you will have to be a bit more creative in your approach and bring along a lot of patience and energy, because this will be a roller coaster ride for sure.

Try to get a feel for the children you will be photographing by gaining some insight into their personality.
Ask their parents or whoever is in charge if the child is a natural in front of the camera or the serious type.
Photographing children in familiar surroundings can be an advantage sometimes, because the kids will be a little more relaxed. But this can be a distraction also, because the children are too comfortable and their eyes and body will tend to roam more freely than in an unfamiliar place.

Using props have been a lifesaver for me for many years. My arsenal of props include everything from pompoms to feather dusters. I must admit, the feather duster has helped me the most in getting children to laugh and smile naturally. Most of them are ticklish and the feather duster does the trick.

Quick hands and eyes are a must when photographing children. In the blink of an eye the child has moved, the facial expression has changed and the shot is forever lost in never never land.

Getting the child to warm up to you will sometimes help in getting your desired shot. Little boys love to give high-fives, and this has always loosened them up for me. Little girls are more responsive when you compliment them on their clothing and hair.

When photographing children the main thing that has worked for me is not being afraid to look silly. Children are used to grown-ups being the opposite of them; serious all of the time, so when they come across a grown-up who is just as silly as they are, they are naturally drawn to that person. They will be more responsive when you ask them to pose, stand, smile or look a certain way.

So the point of the story is this: Children want to have fun in everything they do, including taking pictures. If you are relaxed and free of anxiety and stress, they will pick up on it and you will be able to take some amazing, beautiful photos of God’s greatest gift to us, the child.

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