Want to be a Child Photographer but Don't have Kids? - Digital Photography School
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Want to be a Child Photographer but Don’t have Kids?

I just had an excellent question over on my Facebook page. One reader asked, “How easy, or not, is it to get into child photography? I don’t have children, none of my friends have children but I have a growing interest in investigating the child photography side of things.”

Well one thing’s for sure – you won’t get accused of being a MWAC! Lots of us child photographers got into this genre because we have children and our passions grew out of that experimentation. However, we can get a lot of slack in the professional arena for being perceived as nothing more than a ‘mom with a camera’. So in that respect, you may find it easier to ‘get into’ this field.

But my real answer is this: My fire for photography was sparked when I decided to start photographing my children. And it grew from there. So your first hurdle will be finding enough children who you will be allowed to photograph in order to explore this, first, as a hobby.

Before I had children, kids scared me. I was skittish around them – they made me nervous. I never knew what they were going to do or what they were thinking or really how to handle them. So I can’t imagine how I would have been able to photograph them the way I do now. That’s not to say that other photographers couldn’t have made that happen. But for me, photographing a child is a two-way street. And I don’t mean “I pose you and you comply”. I allow children to lead a session while gently guiding it myself, but not controlling them. I want honesty to come through in my images and I don’t believe this would have come across way back then, before I understood children.

So we can take this scenario and apply it to any genre, really. Asking how to get into child photography without having children is like asking “how can I photograph a wedding when I’ve never had one?” Simple: go to weddings. Find a photographer who will allow you to come and assist them. Get immersed in weddings as much as you can so you can get in the position of photographing them. Want to be a pet photographer but don’t have any? Go to puppy romps, volunteer at a kennel, go to dog shows. Familiarize yourself with the subjects you’re considering as a possible genre of interest.

So my answer is the same for child photography. If you want to explore this genre but don’t have kids or friends with kids, go get immersed in kid culture. Volunteer at a play group, babysit for someone, fall in love with kids! And eventually, once you’re a part of that culture, the photographic opportunities will begin to arise.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Elizabeth Halford is a Hampshire Photographer and keeps a rockin'photography blog where she writes about photography and business in "real.plain.english". She's addicted to Facebook and can be found answering photography and business questions every day here on her page

  • raghavendra

    overcoming the obstacles is too a point in photography. Rather than having tips, tutorials, fun in photography overcoming the obstacles is needed.

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/2012/02/wall-painting-of-day-and-night.html

  • http://www.pixel-tips.com Erin @ Pixel Tips

    If you have the technical knowledge in photography, most of it will transfer to any subject matter. Kind of like how you remember how to drive regardless of the type of car. I would say the biggest challenge is building an initial portfolio if you don’t have readily available models!

  • http://custompinoyrides.com THE aSTIG @ CustomPinoyRides.com

    Haha this is totally true. In my line of photography, I did the same thing!

    I do Automotive and Motorsports photography for http://CustomPinoyRides.com

    I don’t have a fast, customized, or fancy car. Just a normal daily driver that barely anyone wants to own. I’m not some rich businessman who can afford to hang with the big boys driving cars like I stole it. But I had a passion for cars and wanted so badly to be part of that crowd. So I immersed myself into the industry through photography. And I simply posted my work on my website. Soon enough, sponsors started approaching me asking if we can work together! I told them it was just a hobby, but then they told me I should start taking it seriously because they’d pay me! The rest is history. I became a professional photographer for the local automotive scene here in my country, and have created a brand of my own. My site is now one of the most famous automotive websites in the country.

  • http://www.kerstenbeck.com Erik Kerstenbeck

    Hi

    Believe it or not, Children are all over the place – seems like couples make them! Just ask a friend and set up a shoot…they will love you!

    Here is one of three siblings on the beach in California

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/eating-sand/

    PS This is all harder than it looks as kids do not follow instructions well

  • http://bit.ly/oufr4c gnslngr45

    Completely agree in finding any way possible to immerse yourself. There are many people who are masters with their camera. The biggest obstacle in getting paid for photos of children is knowing how to get the kids to do what you want without ordering the kids to do what you want. When I get good pics of my children, it is the most rewarding thing – but it can easily be the most frustrating thing. Paying customers are going to expect the incredible shots and won’t care that their kids aren’t complying. They are paying you to get them to comply. If you don’t have experience with kids that you can use, you are not going to get consistent results.
    Even the “natural” shots of them acting as they do in their environment is a learning experience – knowing where to place yourself and being able to react quickly.

    Flickr:
    http://bit.ly/oufr4c

  • http://www.wildlifeencounters.eu/ steve slater

    Photographing children has to be done with care and consideration (and parents permission) otherwise you may end up with people thinking you are a pervert (I am thinking in particular of the UK).

    Generally photographing children at events is not so bad but often these days you need permission – unless it is in a public place.

    In Spain they seem to have a refreshingly different attitiude in that they love you to take photos of their children.

    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Street-photography-in-Spain/G0000hLnlKwnbtX0/I0000NI_ArieOqRs

  • http://www.linnyjo.com Melinda

    I am a child photographer but have no kids. I have nieces and nephews galore plus my friends have plenty of kids too!!

  • Scott

    People are nuts.

    Nervous Nation: British Man Interrogated for Photographing Own Daughter
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/228349/20111010/police-law-terrorism-privacy-uk-scotland-photography.htm

    Man Photographing Grandson In Park Deemed Suspicious By Police And Media
    http://www.pixiq.com/article/man-photographing-grandkid-in-park-deemed-suspicious

    Father-of-three branded a ‘pervert’ – for photographing his own children in public park
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1035315/Father-branded-pervert–photographing-children-public-park.html

  • PLPNO

    @ THE ASTIG: Good for you!! Kamusta nalang sa Pinas! (Hello to the Philippines!)

  • ccting

    “Leading and not controlling them” – i like this statement…

    Is it true the most of child photographers = female??

  • Rob

    I would say to stay away from child photography. You may think its interesting but that is THE most saturated market in photography and everyone is cheap as heck. Go for something a little more specialized and youll do much better.

  • Carol Matthews

    I am interested in photographing outside flowers (in flower beds) with my Canon Power Shot SX10.. Do you have any suggestions? I am t aking pictures of Rochester, MN, where we currently live, but will be moving the middle of 2013 and then I want to make a book of Rochester to remember the city when we leave.

  • http://www.whitepetal.co.uk Paul

    Nice article, shame you have to be sooooooooooooo careful these days; it’s not like you can go to the park and start photographing children!! Be careful.

  • http://www.fotographicsonlin.com Sheryl

    I love photographing children because they almost always love the camera. I try to capture them doing something natural and will follow them around doing what they do and have gotten some wonderful shots. I don’t have children either but I have neighbors with children and started by asking them if I could take their kids photos and I always then email them the edited shots. This gives me lots of practice to hone my skills while providing the parents with free photos. I would caution anyone to not take photos of kids without the parents permission. I have gone to playgrounds and parks to just to shoot and many parents are very leery of someone pointing their camera at their children that they don’t know.

  • Carolyn

    I think a way to start a business is to go to a school and tell the parents that you are starting out and need some kids to build your portfolio shoot them outside..unless of course you have a studio and you can do some there with parents always present….do it for free pics…then get a release to use on your website…and hopefully you will do a fabulous job and the word will be everywhere..Good luck!!!

    Check out http://www.stephaniemaephotography

  • Jonathon

    I have a younger brother and sister but they are camera shy so I normally use my girlfriend’s younger 2 year old cousin. He always smiles

  • http://chakdephotography.wordpress.com/ Ishaq

    I’m BIG time into children Photography, if you get to visit my blog, in almost every post You will find atleast one or two of children photography… I’m Single still. Its just too easy to click at children and get the best of emotions and innocence captured.

  • Friend

    Have been lucky on a few occasions, getting approprite expressions from 2-3 year old, but what the hell – still love the fact that it came from my camera –

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/65728881@N08/6436851853/in/photostream
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/65728881@N08/6308295682/in/photostream/

    Feedback for improvement most welcome

  • http://www.blueskyphotography.net.au Benn

    Kids are great to photograph!! You never know what you are going to get with them. Biggest tip with photographing kids is to be one:) have fun with them and know when to just sit back and shoot from a distance.

Some older comments

  • Benn

    March 7, 2012 03:23 pm

    Kids are great to photograph!! You never know what you are going to get with them. Biggest tip with photographing kids is to be one:) have fun with them and know when to just sit back and shoot from a distance.

  • Friend

    February 25, 2012 10:24 am

    Have been lucky on a few occasions, getting approprite expressions from 2-3 year old, but what the hell - still love the fact that it came from my camera -

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/65728881@N08/6436851853/in/photostream
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/65728881@N08/6308295682/in/photostream/

    Feedback for improvement most welcome

  • Ishaq

    February 24, 2012 11:57 pm

    I'm BIG time into children Photography, if you get to visit my blog, in almost every post You will find atleast one or two of children photography... I'm Single still. Its just too easy to click at children and get the best of emotions and innocence captured.

  • Jonathon

    February 24, 2012 03:46 pm

    I have a younger brother and sister but they are camera shy so I normally use my girlfriend's younger 2 year old cousin. He always smiles

  • Carolyn

    February 24, 2012 02:11 pm

    I think a way to start a business is to go to a school and tell the parents that you are starting out and need some kids to build your portfolio shoot them outside..unless of course you have a studio and you can do some there with parents always present....do it for free pics...then get a release to use on your website...and hopefully you will do a fabulous job and the word will be everywhere..Good luck!!!

    Check out www.stephaniemaephotography

  • Sheryl

    February 24, 2012 04:32 am

    I love photographing children because they almost always love the camera. I try to capture them doing something natural and will follow them around doing what they do and have gotten some wonderful shots. I don't have children either but I have neighbors with children and started by asking them if I could take their kids photos and I always then email them the edited shots. This gives me lots of practice to hone my skills while providing the parents with free photos. I would caution anyone to not take photos of kids without the parents permission. I have gone to playgrounds and parks to just to shoot and many parents are very leery of someone pointing their camera at their children that they don't know.

  • Paul

    February 24, 2012 03:51 am

    Nice article, shame you have to be sooooooooooooo careful these days; it's not like you can go to the park and start photographing children!! Be careful.

  • Carol Matthews

    February 24, 2012 03:32 am

    I am interested in photographing outside flowers (in flower beds) with my Canon Power Shot SX10.. Do you have any suggestions? I am t aking pictures of Rochester, MN, where we currently live, but will be moving the middle of 2013 and then I want to make a book of Rochester to remember the city when we leave.

  • Rob

    February 23, 2012 12:29 pm

    I would say to stay away from child photography. You may think its interesting but that is THE most saturated market in photography and everyone is cheap as heck. Go for something a little more specialized and youll do much better.

  • ccting

    February 23, 2012 11:48 am

    "Leading and not controlling them" - i like this statement...

    Is it true the most of child photographers = female??

  • PLPNO

    February 23, 2012 11:30 am

    @ THE ASTIG: Good for you!! Kamusta nalang sa Pinas! (Hello to the Philippines!)

  • Scott

    February 23, 2012 07:47 am

    People are nuts.

    Nervous Nation: British Man Interrogated for Photographing Own Daughter
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/228349/20111010/police-law-terrorism-privacy-uk-scotland-photography.htm

    Man Photographing Grandson In Park Deemed Suspicious By Police And Media
    http://www.pixiq.com/article/man-photographing-grandkid-in-park-deemed-suspicious

    Father-of-three branded a 'pervert' - for photographing his own children in public park
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1035315/Father-branded-pervert--photographing-children-public-park.html

  • Melinda

    February 23, 2012 06:19 am

    I am a child photographer but have no kids. I have nieces and nephews galore plus my friends have plenty of kids too!!

  • steve slater

    February 23, 2012 05:21 am

    Photographing children has to be done with care and consideration (and parents permission) otherwise you may end up with people thinking you are a pervert (I am thinking in particular of the UK).

    Generally photographing children at events is not so bad but often these days you need permission - unless it is in a public place.

    In Spain they seem to have a refreshingly different attitiude in that they love you to take photos of their children.

    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Street-photography-in-Spain/G0000hLnlKwnbtX0/I0000NI_ArieOqRs

  • gnslngr45

    February 23, 2012 02:58 am

    Completely agree in finding any way possible to immerse yourself. There are many people who are masters with their camera. The biggest obstacle in getting paid for photos of children is knowing how to get the kids to do what you want without ordering the kids to do what you want. When I get good pics of my children, it is the most rewarding thing - but it can easily be the most frustrating thing. Paying customers are going to expect the incredible shots and won't care that their kids aren't complying. They are paying you to get them to comply. If you don't have experience with kids that you can use, you are not going to get consistent results.
    Even the "natural" shots of them acting as they do in their environment is a learning experience - knowing where to place yourself and being able to react quickly.

    Flickr:
    http://bit.ly/oufr4c

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    February 23, 2012 02:56 am

    Hi

    Believe it or not, Children are all over the place - seems like couples make them! Just ask a friend and set up a shoot...they will love you!

    Here is one of three siblings on the beach in California

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/eating-sand/

    PS This is all harder than it looks as kids do not follow instructions well

  • THE aSTIG @ CustomPinoyRides.com

    February 23, 2012 02:24 am

    Haha this is totally true. In my line of photography, I did the same thing!

    I do Automotive and Motorsports photography for http://CustomPinoyRides.com

    I don't have a fast, customized, or fancy car. Just a normal daily driver that barely anyone wants to own. I'm not some rich businessman who can afford to hang with the big boys driving cars like I stole it. But I had a passion for cars and wanted so badly to be part of that crowd. So I immersed myself into the industry through photography. And I simply posted my work on my website. Soon enough, sponsors started approaching me asking if we can work together! I told them it was just a hobby, but then they told me I should start taking it seriously because they'd pay me! The rest is history. I became a professional photographer for the local automotive scene here in my country, and have created a brand of my own. My site is now one of the most famous automotive websites in the country.

  • Erin @ Pixel Tips

    February 23, 2012 02:04 am

    If you have the technical knowledge in photography, most of it will transfer to any subject matter. Kind of like how you remember how to drive regardless of the type of car. I would say the biggest challenge is building an initial portfolio if you don't have readily available models!

  • raghavendra

    February 23, 2012 01:55 am

    overcoming the obstacles is too a point in photography. Rather than having tips, tutorials, fun in photography overcoming the obstacles is needed.

    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/2012/02/wall-painting-of-day-and-night.html

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