How to Photograph Kids - Leave Your Tips Here - Digital Photography School
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How to Photograph Kids – Leave Your Tips Here

“Help! – I need to take some photos of my kids on the weekend with my new DSLR to send to their Grandparents overseas for Christmas. My kids are 4 and 6 and I’m shooting with a Canon Xsi and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens. Any tips?”

This email hit my inbox earlier today and I thought it’d make a good community discussion. What advice would you give?

photograph-kids-tips.jpgImage by thejbird

PS: Later in the week I’ll be writing a tutorial with 20 or so tips for photographing kids. Stay tuned via one of our subscription methods to get notified of when this post goes live.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://www.doodlebunz.com/blog DoodleBunz/DB Impressions

    First, as someone else said…be patient. Keep the camera on for an extended period of time…and ask them to make funny faces. Make a game of it. If you’re shooting a toddler or younger child, play the “let’s look mad” game. Ask them questions like “what color is love,” or “what is a rainbow” or even something seems totally random…”why does this table have round legs, and why are there 4 legs on a table.” They’ll think you’ve lost your mind, but if you can engage them like that, they’ll really cooperate. Oh, and don’t shoot right before naptime, or even right after. Have a snack and a drink handy. But above all, be patient.

  • Ryon

    I try to get the kids to tell me about something they like. It may be a birthday cake, or whatever. Once they get involved in their story you get some very cute expressions.

  • http://hadassahintisar.blogspot.com Hadassah

    I don’t have time to read all the comments above so I’m not sure that this will be redundant. But since kids are kinda my specialty I suggest that you of course set your camera to highspeed, but then act as if you’re not even there. Candid kid shots are the ultimate best! So just observe them behind the lens. Don’t get in their faces at all, or ask them to pose a lot, they will get totally disinterested and probably not cooperate just to spite you. (That is, unless you have total hams who love to be in the spotlight, and even then you need to be a little stelth about it to get their true personalities.) Find the side of them that only shows when they are playing with other kids or by themselves. Watch their expressions and try to capture the essence of them, and of course their innocence. Most of all, have fun with it!

  • Jeff

    I like to use my longest lens when shooting my kids. When they are unaware of your presence, they will be more natural. There’s nothing worse than letting a kid know you want to photograph them. When I do try to get posed shots of the kids (first day of school, new outfit, whatever) I end up bargaining with them- one shot with nice smiles, one with goofy faces, that way I’ll get what I need. Plus, they are well aware of the fact that they can look at the picture in the viewfinder so they always run over between shots. So, I try to be as sneaky as possible and let the lens do all the work.

  • http://lolaakinmade.com Lola
  • pffft

    kids get sick of cameras really fast and if they know you’re’ shooting they WILL look away.

    so first of all, don’t get in their faces all the time.

    second, definitely candid shots. posing is nigh impossible (depending on the kid, of course)

    third, give them a toy or activity that piques their interest so they don’t just walk off or try to grab your camera.

    if your camera is the most interesting thing in the room, all you’ll get is ultra-close-ups of their face as they attack you.

  • http://www.mylittlenorway.com/ L-Jay

    Make taking pictures a part of your play.

    Go and play with your kids, take them out to a park and roll around in the grass. Have your camera close by so you can take a series of snaps quickly every now and then – but don’t let the camera or taking pictures consume all your attention. You will need to have everything set on the camera beforehand so you can do a quick grab and snap at the right moments.
    The most important thing is to focus on playing with your kids, having a good time and only taking pictures when it is not going to spoil the atmosphere with your kids.

  • carney2

    If at all possible, shoot from a level no higher than their eyes. If this means that you and the camera are flat on the floor, so be it.

  • Beth

    I agree with the suggestions about getting your kids used to the camera; I take lots of pictures of my children’s church group, and my grandchildren. They always know I’m going to be shooting, so they enjoy it, but it only takes a little while to get them involved in telling me a story; that’s when I’ve gotten the best pictures. My favorite shot of Laynie (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bethmrogers/2983778735/) was taken while she was jumping on her trampoline and talking about the neighbor’s fence.
    I saw a tip somewhere that I’ve used successfully too – instead of just asking the kids to smile, we go through different types of expressions – mad, happy, monster, etc. then when you say smile, it’s just another part of the game.
    It also helps sometimes to insist that they DON’T smile, because of course that’s exactly what they want to do. The more you insist, the funnier they find it.

  • Dave S

    Don’t stop shooting if they start crying. Some of the best shots of kids I’ve made are when they get tired or mad at you and start acting up.

  • http://www.tomslatin.com Thomas

    Shoot from their eye level and take lots of shots. If all else fails, encourage them to be a part of the action and let them take pictures of you.

  • http://mightymarce.blogspot.com Marcy

    I have a 10 month old son. What I do with him, is I take tons of photos really close up,m where his face fills the frame. It’s nice to get to really see his features that way. I use aperture priority mode, setting it to 1.8-2.5, and if I’m having trouble with autofocus I’ll set it so it focuses on the center dot. I then align that with one of his eyes, press the shutter down halfway so it focuses there, then recompose my shot and shoot away.

    Don’t be afraid to take 500 pictures. Try lots of different things– far away, up close, eye level with them, above, below, etc. Even if 90% of them turn out to be crap, if you take enough pictures to begin with you’ll still have several gems. You don’t want to look back and think, “Damn I shoulda tried that…” Take way more than you think you’ll need.

  • http://www.amatterofmemories.com Jill

    I have a six year old daughter and she has taught me MUCH about photographing children! :-) I actually just wrote an article for my blog not to long ago on the very topic:

    10 Tips for Photographing Children – http://www.amatterofmemories.com/2008/08/article-10-tips-for-photographing.html

  • http://murklandphotography.com Richard Murkland

    I’d set the camera to Av (aperture) mode, set aperture to 2.8 or 3 start with ISO 100 and adjust the ISO up if needed, to get a shutter speed of 1/100 or faster, set drive to burst mode, choose the center focus point only, shoot in RAW mode, sort out white balancing the light sources later and just shoot lots. You only need to check the ISO again if you move to a brighter or darker area. Let them be themselves, get down low and just try to keep the focus on their eyes. Should be great practice for sports photography later… :D

    Richard

  • Nansel

    1. It’s for their grandparents, whose objective is to see their grandkids. Trying to impress them with photographic skills will just get in the way.
    2. The beauty of digital: Switch your camera to Auto, take a few hundred shots as the kids are going about their daily routine, and I’m sure you’ll end up with a few beauties!

  • http://www.photog-blog.net Millard

    Poor kid is probably going to be very embarrassed when he grows up and finds you have a shot of him on the Potty!!

  • Vernon

    In the bushes with a telephoto lens at night, preferably.

  • Peter

    If you really want them to smile, (and your not in charge of their education) you can always ask a group to ‘say POO’ instead of the oldfashioned cheese.

  • http://chikadeezphotography.blogspot.com/ Laura

    Take pictures even when the baby needs a break. If mom stops to change the baby’s diaper or to feed the baby, keep taking pictures (if mom doesn’t mind). Those pictures sometimes make the best pictures.

    http://chikadeezphotography.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.brypix.com Peter Bryenton

    Put their favourite video on the TV, then shoot from behind and slightly to one side of the TV.

  • http://ktlindsay.blogspot.com KT Lindsay

    Fantastic advice! Everything on DPO is so timely this week (travel and kids!). I’ve just posted to the forums in an attempt to get some help in this very area, I have great difficulty shooting in poor light. I just haven’t mastered the settings yet. Ended up turning the ISO right up which of course resulted in lots of noise :-( I’m quite good at capturing the moments, it’s just the technicalities I have problems with.

    http://flickr.com/photos/ktlindsay/3093371448/

  • http://www.ianharker.com/photoblog/ eyun

    If you need extra light, bounce your flash off the ceiling.

  • http://www.cafeautism.com Nancy Nally

    These are all great tips! But I find that there are special challenges in photographing autistic children, and through trial and error with my daughter and her classmates, I have learned what are some ways of dealing with them. I wrote about them on my autism site if anyone has need for those tips:

    http://www.cafeautism.com/2008/10/a-photo-tip-for.html

  • Lee

    Get the camera out when nothings going on. Take some shots and tell the kids you’re practicing with the camera. Do this often, they won’t notice the camera when the good shots come along.

  • http://www.muchachosintalento.blogspot.com Chapualqo

    That kid is gonna be embaraced when he gets older

  • http://www.TeenBusiness.net Nathaniel Rosa

    As school photographer, most of the shots that I am required to take are your usual posed ones for the school website, local newspaper, e.t.c.

    I’ve found a foolproof way of making this kind of photograph more natural and less ‘posed’ – and how to get grumpy teenagers to smile.. because there seems to be some kind of invisible barrier, where as soon as you pass year 9, you forget what a smile is.

    Here’s my tip! – Get the child/ren in the ‘pose’ that you require for the shot, say the usual cheese or smelly socks or whatever floats your boat, and take your shot. At this point in time, especially if your subject is/are girl/s, they will now be giggling out of embarrassment of having their photograph taken. BANG. You have your shot.

    Nathaniel :)

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  • http://danicaclark.wordpress.com Danica

    I love photographing kids! I have a 3 year old little sister, and she loves posing for the camera.

    One of the things I have learned is that when you ask them to “smile for the camera” they give a fake and cheesy smile.
    But if they’re posing and you start to make them laugh (usually parents, or siblings, or someone who knows the child well can do this at the drop of a hat) you end up with more natural smiles and faces.

    For more dramatic poses, capture their attention elsewhere. Like having them read one of their favorite books, or playing with their favorite toys.
    Or better yet, surprise them and catch a surprised face, if you can. Those are always fun.

    Whatever you do, just try to keep it natural and use places or items (or even people) that the child is used to. You’ll end up with better pictures that way.

  • http://www.guashashop.com theraphy

    Every time i come here I am not dissapointed, nice post

  • http://www.classiccreations.ca Worldtimer GMT

    I wanted to comment and thank the author, good stuff

  • Digital GrandMa

    Great Shot !! I love the candidness and angle of the shot. I’ve got shots of my grandson on the ‘potty’. My angle was a bit intrusive and required a editing!

  • http://www.autism-pdd.net High Functioning Autism

    I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

  • Laura Jensen

    Get in their eyes, kids eyes are the best shots.

  • http://www.lifeasweknowit5.blogspot.com Shelly

    I have three young children whom I enjoy photographing. My best photos have come when I sort of ‘give up” on the photo shoot and just let them play. They pick up on my relaxed vibe and they relax, too, and those are the best shots. I also like to dress them for a shoot, put them in the shoot location, and then watch them, NO posing necessary!. Beautiful shots get composed automatically, and I’m ready with my finger on the shutter button. Shooting from ground level is an absolute must, also.

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  • Mary Martindale

    First you need to follow them around with a camera around the house and where ever you go. If you want a more formal picture set them in a chair, get at their level, and have them say cheese or something else that rhymes with cheese and shoot away. My kids are use to me taking pictures of them so they are used to smiling at the camera. It helps if they are silly and do crazy things.

Some older comments

  • Shelly

    December 24, 2010 02:58 am

    I have three young children whom I enjoy photographing. My best photos have come when I sort of 'give up" on the photo shoot and just let them play. They pick up on my relaxed vibe and they relax, too, and those are the best shots. I also like to dress them for a shoot, put them in the shoot location, and then watch them, NO posing necessary!. Beautiful shots get composed automatically, and I'm ready with my finger on the shutter button. Shooting from ground level is an absolute must, also.

  • Laura Jensen

    July 27, 2010 11:29 am

    Get in their eyes, kids eyes are the best shots.

  • High Functioning Autism

    November 16, 2009 09:57 pm

    I've recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

  • Digital GrandMa

    April 29, 2009 04:15 am

    Great Shot !! I love the candidness and angle of the shot. I’ve got shots of my grandson on the 'potty'. My angle was a bit intrusive and required a editing!

  • Worldtimer GMT

    March 24, 2009 02:02 am

    I wanted to comment and thank the author, good stuff

  • theraphy

    March 11, 2009 07:56 pm

    Every time i come here I am not dissapointed, nice post

  • Danica

    March 9, 2009 12:49 pm

    I love photographing kids! I have a 3 year old little sister, and she loves posing for the camera.

    One of the things I have learned is that when you ask them to "smile for the camera" they give a fake and cheesy smile.
    But if they're posing and you start to make them laugh (usually parents, or siblings, or someone who knows the child well can do this at the drop of a hat) you end up with more natural smiles and faces.

    For more dramatic poses, capture their attention elsewhere. Like having them read one of their favorite books, or playing with their favorite toys.
    Or better yet, surprise them and catch a surprised face, if you can. Those are always fun.

    Whatever you do, just try to keep it natural and use places or items (or even people) that the child is used to. You'll end up with better pictures that way.

  • option

    March 3, 2009 12:19 pm

    this is great info on investing

  • Nathaniel Rosa

    February 5, 2009 10:02 am

    As school photographer, most of the shots that I am required to take are your usual posed ones for the school website, local newspaper, e.t.c.

    I've found a foolproof way of making this kind of photograph more natural and less 'posed' - and how to get grumpy teenagers to smile.. because there seems to be some kind of invisible barrier, where as soon as you pass year 9, you forget what a smile is.

    Here's my tip! - Get the child/ren in the 'pose' that you require for the shot, say the usual cheese or smelly socks or whatever floats your boat, and take your shot. At this point in time, especially if your subject is/are girl/s, they will now be giggling out of embarrassment of having their photograph taken. BANG. You have your shot.

    Nathaniel :)

  • Chapualqo

    December 14, 2008 08:03 pm

    That kid is gonna be embaraced when he gets older

  • Lee

    December 11, 2008 11:50 pm

    Get the camera out when nothings going on. Take some shots and tell the kids you're practicing with the camera. Do this often, they won't notice the camera when the good shots come along.

  • Nancy Nally

    December 11, 2008 02:13 am

    These are all great tips! But I find that there are special challenges in photographing autistic children, and through trial and error with my daughter and her classmates, I have learned what are some ways of dealing with them. I wrote about them on my autism site if anyone has need for those tips:

    http://www.cafeautism.com/2008/10/a-photo-tip-for.html

  • eyun

    December 9, 2008 07:39 am

    If you need extra light, bounce your flash off the ceiling.

  • KT Lindsay

    December 9, 2008 05:44 am

    Fantastic advice! Everything on DPO is so timely this week (travel and kids!). I've just posted to the forums in an attempt to get some help in this very area, I have great difficulty shooting in poor light. I just haven't mastered the settings yet. Ended up turning the ISO right up which of course resulted in lots of noise :-( I'm quite good at capturing the moments, it's just the technicalities I have problems with.

    http://flickr.com/photos/ktlindsay/3093371448/

  • Peter Bryenton

    December 9, 2008 01:39 am

    Put their favourite video on the TV, then shoot from behind and slightly to one side of the TV.

  • Laura

    December 8, 2008 02:08 pm

    Take pictures even when the baby needs a break. If mom stops to change the baby's diaper or to feed the baby, keep taking pictures (if mom doesn't mind). Those pictures sometimes make the best pictures.

    http://chikadeezphotography.blogspot.com/

  • Peter

    December 8, 2008 09:19 am

    If you really want them to smile, (and your not in charge of their education) you can always ask a group to 'say POO' instead of the oldfashioned cheese.

  • Vernon

    December 7, 2008 07:07 pm

    In the bushes with a telephoto lens at night, preferably.

  • Millard

    December 7, 2008 12:33 pm

    Poor kid is probably going to be very embarrassed when he grows up and finds you have a shot of him on the Potty!!

  • Nansel

    December 6, 2008 11:17 pm

    1. It's for their grandparents, whose objective is to see their grandkids. Trying to impress them with photographic skills will just get in the way.
    2. The beauty of digital: Switch your camera to Auto, take a few hundred shots as the kids are going about their daily routine, and I'm sure you'll end up with a few beauties!

  • Richard Murkland

    December 6, 2008 11:00 pm

    I'd set the camera to Av (aperture) mode, set aperture to 2.8 or 3 start with ISO 100 and adjust the ISO up if needed, to get a shutter speed of 1/100 or faster, set drive to burst mode, choose the center focus point only, shoot in RAW mode, sort out white balancing the light sources later and just shoot lots. You only need to check the ISO again if you move to a brighter or darker area. Let them be themselves, get down low and just try to keep the focus on their eyes. Should be great practice for sports photography later... :D

    Richard

  • Jill

    December 6, 2008 02:08 pm

    I have a six year old daughter and she has taught me MUCH about photographing children! :-) I actually just wrote an article for my blog not to long ago on the very topic:

    10 Tips for Photographing Children - http://www.amatterofmemories.com/2008/08/article-10-tips-for-photographing.html

  • Marcy

    December 6, 2008 01:14 pm

    I have a 10 month old son. What I do with him, is I take tons of photos really close up,m where his face fills the frame. It's nice to get to really see his features that way. I use aperture priority mode, setting it to 1.8-2.5, and if I'm having trouble with autofocus I'll set it so it focuses on the center dot. I then align that with one of his eyes, press the shutter down halfway so it focuses there, then recompose my shot and shoot away.

    Don't be afraid to take 500 pictures. Try lots of different things-- far away, up close, eye level with them, above, below, etc. Even if 90% of them turn out to be crap, if you take enough pictures to begin with you'll still have several gems. You don't want to look back and think, "Damn I shoulda tried that..." Take way more than you think you'll need.

  • Thomas

    December 6, 2008 01:04 pm

    Shoot from their eye level and take lots of shots. If all else fails, encourage them to be a part of the action and let them take pictures of you.

  • Dave S

    December 6, 2008 12:57 pm

    Don't stop shooting if they start crying. Some of the best shots of kids I've made are when they get tired or mad at you and start acting up.

  • Beth

    December 6, 2008 12:12 pm

    I agree with the suggestions about getting your kids used to the camera; I take lots of pictures of my children's church group, and my grandchildren. They always know I'm going to be shooting, so they enjoy it, but it only takes a little while to get them involved in telling me a story; that's when I've gotten the best pictures. My favorite shot of Laynie (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bethmrogers/2983778735/) was taken while she was jumping on her trampoline and talking about the neighbor's fence.
    I saw a tip somewhere that I've used successfully too - instead of just asking the kids to smile, we go through different types of expressions - mad, happy, monster, etc. then when you say smile, it's just another part of the game.
    It also helps sometimes to insist that they DON'T smile, because of course that's exactly what they want to do. The more you insist, the funnier they find it.

  • carney2

    December 6, 2008 11:43 am

    If at all possible, shoot from a level no higher than their eyes. If this means that you and the camera are flat on the floor, so be it.

  • L-Jay

    December 6, 2008 11:29 am

    Make taking pictures a part of your play.

    Go and play with your kids, take them out to a park and roll around in the grass. Have your camera close by so you can take a series of snaps quickly every now and then - but don't let the camera or taking pictures consume all your attention. You will need to have everything set on the camera beforehand so you can do a quick grab and snap at the right moments.
    The most important thing is to focus on playing with your kids, having a good time and only taking pictures when it is not going to spoil the atmosphere with your kids.

  • pffft

    December 6, 2008 07:56 am

    kids get sick of cameras really fast and if they know you're' shooting they WILL look away.

    so first of all, don't get in their faces all the time.

    second, definitely candid shots. posing is nigh impossible (depending on the kid, of course)

    third, give them a toy or activity that piques their interest so they don't just walk off or try to grab your camera.

    if your camera is the most interesting thing in the room, all you'll get is ultra-close-ups of their face as they attack you.

  • Lola

    December 6, 2008 07:13 am

    Here's a piece I wrote about this - http://thetravelersnotebook.com/photography-q-a/how-to-photograph-children-during-your-travels/

  • Jeff

    December 6, 2008 06:19 am

    I like to use my longest lens when shooting my kids. When they are unaware of your presence, they will be more natural. There's nothing worse than letting a kid know you want to photograph them. When I do try to get posed shots of the kids (first day of school, new outfit, whatever) I end up bargaining with them- one shot with nice smiles, one with goofy faces, that way I'll get what I need. Plus, they are well aware of the fact that they can look at the picture in the viewfinder so they always run over between shots. So, I try to be as sneaky as possible and let the lens do all the work.

  • Hadassah

    December 6, 2008 06:03 am

    I don't have time to read all the comments above so I'm not sure that this will be redundant. But since kids are kinda my specialty I suggest that you of course set your camera to highspeed, but then act as if you're not even there. Candid kid shots are the ultimate best! So just observe them behind the lens. Don't get in their faces at all, or ask them to pose a lot, they will get totally disinterested and probably not cooperate just to spite you. (That is, unless you have total hams who love to be in the spotlight, and even then you need to be a little stelth about it to get their true personalities.) Find the side of them that only shows when they are playing with other kids or by themselves. Watch their expressions and try to capture the essence of them, and of course their innocence. Most of all, have fun with it!

  • Ryon

    December 6, 2008 05:52 am

    I try to get the kids to tell me about something they like. It may be a birthday cake, or whatever. Once they get involved in their story you get some very cute expressions.

  • DoodleBunz/DB Impressions

    December 6, 2008 05:15 am

    First, as someone else said...be patient. Keep the camera on for an extended period of time...and ask them to make funny faces. Make a game of it. If you're shooting a toddler or younger child, play the "let's look mad" game. Ask them questions like "what color is love," or "what is a rainbow" or even something seems totally random..."why does this table have round legs, and why are there 4 legs on a table." They'll think you've lost your mind, but if you can engage them like that, they'll really cooperate. Oh, and don't shoot right before naptime, or even right after. Have a snack and a drink handy. But above all, be patient.

  • L.J. Gaedke

    December 6, 2008 05:14 am

    Probably the best tip I can think of is one that Bill Eppridge told a group of us at a meeting a few months ago. He said that if you acclimate the children to the camera, you'll get much better shots. Walking into a children's classroom with a camera is going to get all sorts of stares and "oooh what's that?!?" moments. On the other hand, if you go in guns-blazing, snapping ridiculous amounts of photos (without film, in his case), the children will quickly lose interest in you. This sets you up for those lovely candid shots that pretty much all other posts here have agreed upon.

  • D. T. North

    December 6, 2008 04:59 am

    I have a lot of experience photographing kids, and I have come to the realization that the candid approach is best. Posed shots are not going to turn out as well as kids in their natural environment. Let them do whatever it is that they want to do and photograph them as they're going about their day. A shot of a kid playing with his new toy trains or kids playing with each other are going to turn out great. Take lots of pictures, you'll end up throwing some of them (most of them) out.

    Just be aware of their eyes. They inevitably will not be looking at the camera, so when you go through your proofs, keep the eyes in mind. If they appear to be focusing on something in the frame, the shot will be much better than if they're looking outside the frame (a general rule, there are exceptions).

    My own children have grown used to dad always with a camera. They tend to ignore it now, which makes for some great shots.

  • Ovidiu Suteu

    December 6, 2008 04:25 am

    Let them see what you are doing. Show them the result on the camera screen and explain them that they could be movie stars. It works especially with girls if you mention High School Musical. Don't forget that boys love toilet humor. Use it if you want to get a natural smile. The word FART would bring a big, wide smile on their face.

  • Lucy

    December 6, 2008 04:14 am

    I try to make it fun for kids by asking them to be silly - scrunching up their faces, sticking their tongue out, silly poses, etc. I keep clicking away and usually end up with some fun, relaxed happy shots of them enjoying themselves in between the silliness.

  • Tim Linden

    December 6, 2008 04:03 am

    Don't have expectations!

    People seem to get upset when their kids do silly things while trying to take photos of them. But really, that's their personality.. Years from now those are the photos to look back on, because it reminds you of that little person.

  • Kalipa

    December 6, 2008 04:00 am

    1st. You have to get into their world without being seen. In other words become invisible so they are acting as natural as possible.
    2nd. Get some shots that show their eyes (the window to their inner free spirit)

  • Andrew

    December 6, 2008 03:53 am

    That lens will help a lot - set it at 3.2 and lay on the floor. If you can get the kids to play near a big window indoors, that makes for some nice directional light. Also, b/w can be very flattering. If it's warm where you are, the playground at sunset as suggested by cristiano007 is almost automatic. Frame tight (or plan on using your 10MP to crop tight. Burst mode can come in handy with a big enough card. It's much easier to delete the bad photos than rewind time and retake the good ones.

  • nwoo

    December 6, 2008 03:51 am

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3181/3075370049_0cc9e71854_b.jpg

  • nwoo

    December 6, 2008 03:50 am

    Yes, I agree with everyone else...get on their level and take a ton of pictures of them doing what they do...

  • David Moore

    December 6, 2008 03:47 am

    Keep you camera (with a fast prime attached) within easy reach at home. Going out somewhere for the purpose of shooting can get you great shots, but you can also get some great ones if you grab the right moment at home.

    When they're engrossed in something can be a good time. I got one of my favourite shots of my daughter while she was watching Elmo:

    http://www.jpgmag.com/photos/160076

  • jgphoto12

    December 6, 2008 03:44 am

    1. As may above have alluded to (knee-pads), get low. Get your camera lens down at the child's eye level at least. You can get more dramatic by getting your lens below your subject and shooting up at them.

    2. Get close, really close. Fill up the frame with the child, especially their face.

    3. Use a fast lens. You have a fast f/2.8 lens; use it. It's great for shooting children. That f/2.8 lets you set a wide aperature and a fast shutter speed. Both are great for photographing children. The wide aperature for blurring out the distracting foregrounds and backgrounds that usually surreound children. And a fast shutter speed to freeze children in action.

    4. Enable continuous/burst shooting on your camera. I find it best when photographing children to focus, push the shutter-button down half way, re-compose in the frame, and then hold the shutter release down until the camera pauses taking exposures becuase the memory is full. Children are fast and unpredictable. You chances of good shots go way-up when you're shooting a lot of exposures. This will also give you the opportunity to get a good sequence of shots that can be framed up together in a multi-shot frame.

    5. Try shooting in Program mode ("P" on the XSi dial). Children move so fast and dart in and out of different light so quickly, I find it really hard to keep exposure settings up with them.

    6. But if shots of fast moving children are too blury, switch to Shutter Priority mode ("Tv" on the Xsi dial). I've found that 1/500 to 1/640 is usually a plenty fast enough of a shutter speed to freeze the action of children in motion.

    7. Use available light (i.e., no flash) if you can. Shot out doors in open shade or on an overcast day. Better yet is using the golden light near sunset for really dramatic colors. Indoors try to use soft light coming through a window, esecially a noth facing window. Your f/2.8 lens will let you open up your aperature and use available light. You may need to switch to Aperature Priority mode ("A" on te XSi dial) to dial your aperature way open towards, or at f/2.8. IMHO, f/2.8 is a great aperature for photographing children indoors in available light.

    8. If you must use flash, diffuse it. The Lumiquest Softscreen will help on an XSi. If you have a Speedlight, bounce the flash off a wall or the ceiling. The Lumiquest Mini-Softbox works well for diffusing direct flash on children. Also, keep in mind that it's tough for your flash to keep up with the continuous/burst shutter very long. They flash has to re-charge itself long before the camera has to pause taking exposures because memory is exhausted. A speed light will extend the time you have flash available, but not for too long.

    9. Set your white balance to cloudy to get a warmer color cast to your shots. It will be a little orangeish, but the eextra warmth looks really good in holiday shots of children, IMHO.

    10. The resoucrs helped me a alot in getting better shots of children:

    * Kodak's How To Photograph Children: http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=92&pq-locale=en_US

    * Nick Kelsh's Hot To Photograph Your Family: http://www.amazon.com/Photograph-Your-Family-Nick-Kelsh/dp/1556709803/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228498608&sr=8-1

  • majed

    December 6, 2008 03:30 am

    1- take low angle
    2- try B&W
    3- use soft box or lights - reflection

  • Asad

    December 6, 2008 03:21 am

    Try the "ambush" approach. Set your camera to a high speed (1/250 + secs) with some correctional settings depending on the lighting, then sneak up on the kids and start shooting :)

  • Lindy

    December 6, 2008 03:15 am

    I think the different personalities will dictate how you photograph. Some kids just LOVE looking at the camera and you get some fantastic photos of them looking right at you. Others you have to WORK IT and whoo boy do I mean work it. I think just go with the flow. Make them laugh. Get them comfortable with you pointing a camera at them. Don't get too stressed out when you don't get the perfect shot. I know that after I've told my daughter for the bazillionth time to LOOK AT MUMMY and she just flat out refuses I can get a bit frustrated. I usually put the camera down at that point and play with her a bit. I'll then pick the camera back up and start clicking away. You need to give a little to get a little!! Good luck!

  • Joanna

    December 6, 2008 03:05 am

    Wonderful photo.

    Capture -their- personality as closely as possible. Get natural photos of them doing what they love to do and they will be at ease and cheerful. Whereas they may be uncooperative if you ask them to do things outside of their comfort realm.

  • Julia

    December 6, 2008 02:46 am

    interact with the kids as well. give them high energy and they will respond back with high energy.

  • Omar

    December 6, 2008 02:43 am

    Shoot from their level i.e. Sit down or even lie down so that the camera is eye-to-eye/leveled with them.

    Using a shutter-release remote while keeping the camera candidly towards the side is often useful

  • Steve Wilson

    December 6, 2008 02:36 am

    Take them to a park! Kids reflect your attitude and mood. If you are stressed and try to force them to pose and what-not when they aren't ready, they are going to freak out and make it a miserable experience. Play with them in the backyard, or better yet a playground. While they are playing, take candids and then ask them to look and smile. They will be more likely to cooperate if you make it fun! Use natural lighting, be a fly on the wall, the flash will give you away. Use a shallow depth of field as well to blur out other kids and equipment. Above all HAVE FUN and the kids will too!

  • Andrew

    December 6, 2008 02:34 am

    Don't wait for the perfect moment, shoot anyway. Some of our best shots were when the kids were in a bad mood, even crying. Capture the emotion, both good and bad.

  • Helmut Watterott

    December 6, 2008 02:28 am

    Long story but maybe relevent: My daughter was about 2 and in her nursery a pro photography company came in, set up the lights and then one by one took pics of the kids. Showing them how to pose and got really great shots off them. Then they give the contact sheet to the parents who can then choose to buy prints. About 2 weeks after this happened I finally had my studio setup at home and tried a few shots with my daughter. She remembered everything. She started crawling on the floor like a snake, pretended to be running, all sorts. Although these shots are alot more 'posed' in comparison to the featured photo up top, they were good photos.

    I personally prefer to let them do their thing and us (the photographer) learning to anticipate the moment and be ready. And yes, you need knee pads, a fast focusing method, high ISO normally as I hate using a flash and narrow depth of field (with them running around you never know what will be in the background).

    PS to my long story, important for more controlled pics is connecting with the child. The company that took the photos really knew how to get the kids to 'perform'

  • Anne Edens

    December 6, 2008 02:24 am

    Take a nap before your photo session so you will have plenty of energy to follow them around as they play in their natural environmen. Do this later in the afternoon so you don't have to use a flash and the sun is not harsh. Set your camera to rapid fire so you can take fast sequential shots of action. Look for interaction between the 2 children and try to capture that. Let them do silly poses (or not-so serious, but don't try to pose them yourself...let them be natural). Take lots of pictures, make sure you have a fully charged battery and a lot of memory.

    Anne

  • Robin Ryan

    December 6, 2008 02:17 am

    environment is *everything*
    http://flickr.com/photos/robinryan/2076980966/in/set-72157603329594706/
    http://flickr.com/photos/robinryan/2342550479/in/set-72157603329594706/
    http://flickr.com/photos/robinryan/3070505082/

  • David

    December 6, 2008 02:01 am

    Give them something to eat and start snapping. I like to give my three year old a prepackaged treat (ice cream bar, chocolate cupcake, etc - something really messy) and shoot her the whole time; opening the package, eating, and the aftermath.

  • Michael Ann

    December 6, 2008 01:57 am

    I am a Grandmother and a photographer. I want to see my Grandkids, so get up close. That doesn't mean you have to get in their face, back up and turn up the zoom. I don't want to see a page full of leaves with the child to small to see. Try to think ahead as to what the child is about to do and stay in front if you can. All Grandparents love the "everyone is smiling" pictures but get the real moments too, crying, pensive, etc. Keep your camera handy, take atleast 6 pictures per day for the next few day. You will end up with some jewels.

  • Adrian

    December 6, 2008 01:52 am

    a couple things: make sure to have your aperture set to have a wide enough DOF to catch the kids as they move around (because sometimes mine moves faster than I can refocus). And, I find that if you are doing portraits, to get a genuine smile, tell them not to smile, then once they are straight-faced, make a raspberry (or farting if you prefer) sound with your mouth. you will get a genuine giggle and a great result.

  • kseg

    December 6, 2008 01:43 am

    I have found that so often parents want to get that perfect posed shot of their kids with their kids perfect smile but as others have said, it doesn't work that way and even if you do get it, it's usually boring. When looking back at my children's photos, the ones I treasure are candids because those represent who my children really are, not me forcing them all to smile.

    It always makes me sad when I am taking a family's photo and I hear parent getting upset at their kids because they aren't standing like statues and smiling. They yell at their kids and then no one is happy. When parents want that "ststue" picture I take it but then try to convince them to play with their kids, laugh with them and I snap away. Those "playful" shot are usually the ones that get developed.

    So as others have said, go candid, give the kids something to do and snap away!

  • Francisco D'Anconia

    December 6, 2008 01:39 am

    * Get low on the same level as the children you're photographing - your eyes level with their eyes.

    * Shoot in soft available soft light if you can. An overcast day at a playground. To get available light indoors shoot with a fast lens like a 50mm f/1.8, 1.4, or 1.2 (if you have an f/1.2 you probably don't need advice from me).

    * Enable continuous/burst shooting. You'll need lots of exposures to capture children rapidly moving. If you are using flash, you'll want a speedlite for the flash to keep up with the speed of the shutter.

    * Try shooting program mode. Children change speed and they move in and out of the light. If the children are moving really so fast that you're getting too much blur, try switching to Shutter Priority Mode and setting your shutter speed at 1/500 or 1/640.

  • Jason Lee

    December 6, 2008 01:32 am

    Snacks, lots of little snacks. Bribery goes a long way.

    http://kristinandkayla.com/

  • Homburg Pokes

    December 6, 2008 01:32 am

    John Waire said it perfectly (above).

    Let them do their thing rather than force a pose. Better to give grandma two frames of excellent photos (one of each child) than have a contrived substandard photo with the two children together.

    Bend your knees and get down on their level!

  • Al

    December 6, 2008 01:29 am

    I recommend just letting them do their thing and following them around. Try not to use flash photography unless your flash has a quick recycle time. Kids move pretty fast. Plus, the lack of attention will help you get more natural shots. Don't ask them to smile or pose unless they show interest in what you are doing, or do it naturally. There's nothing more aggravating than a non-compliant child when you expect something different.

  • Rodney

    December 6, 2008 01:27 am

    With my 3 year old I found the best way is to sneak up on him will he was occupied with some thing. And share the photo with them after you take it so they know what the camera is about.

  • Simon

    December 6, 2008 01:24 am

    The biggest mistake I learned when I first starting shooting kids was that they never ever stayed still, and i'd always end up with dozens of out if focus blurred pics. Nowadays I always use auto focusing and the fastest shuter speed I can get away with.

  • Todd

    December 6, 2008 01:17 am

    Get out of the studio and away from set pieces. Kids are active, curious and full of life. Your photos should reflect that.

  • hfng

    December 6, 2008 01:16 am

    To avoid blurred shots. First, shoot them with tranquilizer darts to calm them down.

  • Adam

    December 6, 2008 01:02 am

    I always set it to a high-speed/sports mode before planning any kid shots - my kids couldn't sit still if they tried. Then I try and take lots of pictures without them noticing. Sooner or later I'll get a couple of good ones.

  • Bridget

    December 6, 2008 01:00 am

    I've used props - Bubbles work very well. Photograph them playing with their toys (its like they go into their own little world) Definitely get down to their level and .... have fun!

  • zulfadhli

    December 6, 2008 12:57 am

    yup.. candid is the best because of their face reaction is really nice. Another thing you can do is, try make them run towards you and photograph them running at that time, you can also ask them to take the camera, so hold your camera little bit high and they have to jump, you might get a really nice struggling, excited and laughing photos. Or you can make them laugh buy telling jokes...

    http://www.photomakers.net

  • Chris P.

    December 6, 2008 12:55 am

    I'm with Ryan - candids of kids are many times better than posed, in my opinion. Find an activity that the kids enjoy and will be still and well lit for and you've got a winner, or if you do do a posed shot, think of something which makes it different than just 'you stand there and do what I say'... Some kids react really poorly to that kind of direction.

    Some ideas I've used... portraits lit by sparkler. another
    asking kids to lay down and shoot standing above
    and put the horizon line near kids eyelines (ie like Mark H says - get down low)

  • Michelle

    December 6, 2008 12:53 am

    Don't be afraid of trying to get them to pose...I know the candids can look more artistic...but most Grandparents want a posed looking at the camera picture of their grandchildren. Its fine to get the candids too....but you can get the posed ones if youre patient. Something I've found that helps is to give children a toy camera and ask them to photograph me. Then when you ask them to pose for you, they are more willing because they are immtating the poses you've just done.

  • galvaran

    December 6, 2008 12:52 am

    forget all the photography rules (rule of thirds, lighting, blah, blah, blah), kids hate rules. my motto when it comes to taking pics of children "let them play, snap away".

  • all things BD

    December 6, 2008 12:52 am

    As others have said, shooting them in their environment with a fast shutter is the best. I usually bring a prop/toy/special something with us to engage them. Also, and don't ever quote me on this, saying those forbidden words like "daddy has a butt" or "mommy smells" works wonders for the genuine laugh and smile factor.

  • Bernadette

    December 6, 2008 12:52 am

    Keep your finger on the shutter button and shoot fast. I always like to get the kids to laugh and make funny faces in the middle of the posed ones...keeps everyone loose and some of those pictures are great.

  • susana

    December 6, 2008 12:47 am

    Get on the floor. And snap snap snap.

  • mark h

    December 6, 2008 12:46 am

    Get on the floor and take lots of pictures.

  • Ramiro

    December 6, 2008 12:44 am

    set the point view of your camera to their high or lower, you will get interesting pictures.

  • Ryan

    December 6, 2008 12:41 am

    I like to take a lot of candid in the moment, then pick out the gems, you'd be surprised what you bring home from having fun and firing away, see here

    http://ryanholloway.smugmug.com/gallery/5794627_ao3YU#358839530_ndL7a

  • cristiano007

    December 6, 2008 12:37 am

    Kids are better seen playing, take them to a nice playground at sunset, and capture them in action, hanging upside down, jumping, sliding, balancing, etc. That will make your parents entire Christmas, believe me!

  • Jim Fitzsimmons

    December 6, 2008 12:36 am

    Don't assume anything. Don't expect anything. You'll get great shots if not forced. Kids don't pose well most times. You're much better with Candid stuff like the image in the post. You couldn't pose that photo if you tried.

  • John Waire

    December 6, 2008 12:33 am

    be patient. let them do their thing in their environment. get down on their level. have fun!!!

    nothing like kid photos.

  • Nadia

    December 6, 2008 12:28 am

    Set your camera to hi-speed action mode, put on a good pair of knee pads and GO!

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