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8 Tips for Amazing Photos of Children (+ Examples)

Tips for amazing photos of children

Children are full of spontaneity and endless wonder. Their mischievous grins, sparkling eyes, and genuine laughter can light up any frame. But as anyone whose ever photographed children knows, working with kids can be quite a rollercoaster ride! From dealing with their unpredictable moods to capturing those split-second moments of pure joy, child photography demands a mix of patience, creativity, and a little sprinkle of luck.

Fortunately, I’ve done my fair share of child portrait sessions, and I’ve developed a variety of techniques to ensure great results. So whether you’re a parent eager to capture your little one’s milestones or a hobbyist looking to master the art of child photography, this article is your gateway to success. We’ll explore everything from choosing a location and preparing for your shoot to capturing both formal and candid shots – and by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be itching to get out with your camera!

1. Choose the time and location carefully

Timing is everything when it comes to capturing those precious moments with children. I’ve learned from experience that the perfect time for a photo session is usually after a refreshing nap and a little snack. That’s when the kids are at their happiest and most cooperative!

Now, let’s talk about the importance of timing when it comes to lighting. Avoid shooting outdoors at midday when the sun is blazing and intense. That harsh light will cast unflattering shadows, and your photos will look intense and contrasty. Instead, aim to shoot during the golden hour, that magical time when the sun is low on the horizon and casting a warm, soft glow. And if you do find yourself stuck shooting during high noon, seek out some shady spots to even out the light and consider using a reflector.

It’s also crucial to select the right location. Working outdoors is fantastic as it provides ample space for kids to move around freely. Plus, you get to take advantage of beautiful natural backdrops in parks and forests, where leaves and flowers add an extra touch of charm.

On the other hand, don’t fret if you have to work indoors due to specific setting requirements or weather conditions. Just make sure you have enough room to accommodate the little ones’ boundless energy and to experiment with different lenses. You don’t want to be stuck in a tiny space – it’ll cramp your style and limit your creative possibilities.

Child photography tips
This family found some lovely outdoor locations, and we chose to do the session in the evening to ensure we had plenty of soft light. We found the sweet spot between hungry, tired, sleepy kids and flattering natural light!

2. Be prepared (but be ready to improvise)

Both you and the kids want the photo session to go smoothly and quickly. Children aren’t exactly famous for their patience, after all! If you spend too much time fumbling around with your camera or checking out different backdrops, they’ll get bored, fidgety, and lose interest faster than you can say “cheese.”

That’s why being prepared is key. Before you get started, have your camera ready with a fully charged battery. Make sure you have multiple memory cards and your basic settings dialed in. Get all your gear in order so you can focus on what matters most: capturing those heart-melting smiles and playful giggles.

Oh, and don’t forget about props! Searching frantically for that picnic basket or chair while your subject is waiting is a recipe for disaster. So have your props ready and easily accessible. And here’s a pro tip: Keep any toys hidden until they’re needed so you can surprise the little ones when the time is just right (and prevent them from being distracted during the rest of the shoot!).

If you’re working in a studio with different portrait backdrops, plan ahead and decide on the order in which you’ll use them. Make sure they’re all set up and ready to go. And if you’re photographing outside, scout for various backgrounds in advance and have a rough idea of when you’ll transition between them.

Posed girl indoor studio child photography tips

Of course, we all know that kids and plans don’t always mix. So don’t sweat it if your meticulously organized session goes off the rails. That’s when you need to embrace the unexpected and go with the flow, improvising as needed to capture those authentic and magical moments.

3. Make a list

In the previous section, we covered the planning essentials, like prepping your gear and scouting locations. Now let’s take it a step further and talk about creating a game plan for capturing those picture-perfect moments.

First things first, jot down a list of shots you’d like to nail. You can include some posed pictures, but don’t forget to mix it up with candid portraits that truly capture the essence of your little subject. Let them be themselves, because let’s face it, those Pinterest-perfect poses might not work out – and that’s totally okay!

Think about various activities they can engage in, like sitting, standing, playing, or even running wild with unbridled joy. Look for inspiration and themes, but remember, it’s all about capturing their unique personality. Plan ahead by considering some fun activities you can try, and be ready with some backup options like snacks or a phone for entertainment. Just make sure you’ve got the parent’s approval if you’re working with someone else’s kiddos.

Once again, it’s essential to stay flexible with your list and be ready to toss it aside if needed. Sometimes the best moments happen spontaneously, and you don’t want to miss out on those gems by being too rigid with your plans!

child photography tips shot list

4. Get reinforcements

Kids are like little balls of energy, and they don’t always play nice with the camera. So if you can swing it, call in some backup! Whether you’re photographing your own kiddos or working with a client, having an extra set of hands can be a game-changer.

Your trusty sidekick should stand right behind you, not off to the side. The goal? To catch those captivating moments when the child’s eyes lock onto your lens. For the littlest ones, you can have your helper plonk them on a chair and swiftly step away while you stand at the ready with your finger on the shutter button.

When choosing your accomplice, pick someone who knows how to coax out those smiles and giggles. They’ll help you keep your cool when photographing your own munchkins, and they’ll also ensure everything goes far more smoothly. Older siblings are great for this, and parents can do a good job, too.

5. Start with the posed shots

Not every child photography session requires rigidly posed shots (candid images can turn out fantastic, too!). However, if you do decide to go for posed photos, it’s best to start with the most posed and formal ones. For instance, that sibling shot where you want everyone all looking directly at the camera with big smiles.

Sisters posed child photography tips
Posed shots like this are best taken at the beginning of the session, not at the end!

At the beginning of the session, your little subjects are usually more patient and cooperative. Toward the end, they can become a bit restless and fidgety, making it harder to get them to sit still for more than a second or two.

Honestly, even if you begin with the posed shots, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get what you’re after, but at least you’ll have a chance!

6. Limit movement

Kids have a knack for exploring areas that are conveniently out of reach for your camera lens. So if you’re struggling to keep them in one place, consider reining in their movement using a prop like a chair, stool, couch, basket, swing, or whatever else sparks their curiosity.

Here’s a nifty trick: Hide a fun chair until the perfect moment. Then stick it in the spot where you want the child to be and see if their little radar leads them straight to it. You might strike gold and rejoice as they naturally gravitate toward it. Keep in mind that they may not want to sit on the chair at all, but no worries! You can adapt and let them stand while holding onto it or even have them sit on the ground nearby.

Boy chair child photography tips
Near the beginning of the session is a great time to limit movement using props, chairs, etc. After a while, they’ll want to run around instead of sitting. This little guy wasn’t feeling conventional, but that’s okay – just go with the flow!

Flexibility is key here – don’t force it. It’s better to struggle a bit with capturing your subject from a distance than to end up with a close-up shot featuring a red, blotchy, crying face. And if you feel your subject isn’t quite ready, you can always come back to the prop later. If not, simply let it go. You might have a ton of ideas, but in the end, you’ll only use a select few.

7. Let them play

Once you’ve captured a few formal shots (or at least pictures where the kids are sitting or standing in place), it’s time to take a step back and let them play! While you can offer some guidance, avoid excessive posing or trying to make them sit still. Trust me, if you push too hard, you’ll find yourself in a battle you won’t win.

Feeding cows boy child photography tips
We were nearing the end of this session and sitting still wasn’t an option anymore! This little guy loved feeding the cows, so over to the cows we went. It was also a way of telling the story of who he is and what he loves. Sometimes the most cherished pictures don’t have a smile or even eyes facing the camera.

Why not center the rest of your session around an activity that the kids enjoy or introduce them to something new that might ignite their excitement? Take them in the yard with a sprinkler, hit the park with slides, or embark on a beach adventure to collect seashells. How about an outdoor tea party or flying a kite? Get them jumping on a trampoline or set up a bucket full of soapy water on the grass. The possibilities are endless!

Oh, and here’s a little secret: Music can work wonders. Consider throwing a fun dance party to get those big smiles and laughs. And if you’ve been shooting indoors, taking the session outside is a fantastic idea. Kids love having space to roam and explore, and a large outdoor area opens up a world of creative possibilities.

8. Do your best to relax

Photographing children can be a bit overwhelming at times, I understand. However, it is crucial that you take a moment to breathe deeply and find a sense of calm.

Here’s the deal: Kids have this uncanny ability to pick up on your stress vibes, and it often results in them doing the exact opposite of what you’re aiming for. So do what you can to let go of those nerves.

And if you’re feeling jittery before your first client shoot, why not practice with your own kiddos or a friend’s? It’s a great way to ease those pre-shoot jitters. And let me share a secret stress reliever: Plan like there’s no tomorrow. Run scenarios in your mind, create detailed shot lists, scout different locations, and even practice adjusting your camera settings. This preparation will boost your confidence, even if you end up tossing your plans out the window during the actual shoot.

Child photography tips: final words

And that’s a wrap! We’ve reached the end of our wild and wonderful journey through the captivating realm of child photography. Armed with these eight tips, you’re now equipped to freeze those precious moments in time forever. So get ready to embark on countless fun photoshoots with your camera in hand!

As you venture into the world of child photography, remember to embrace the beauty of imperfection and let go of expectations. Start with poses, limit movement if needed, but above all, let them play and be their authentic selves. And most importantly, relax! The magic happens when you’re in the moment, connecting with your subjects and capturing their world.

So embrace the unpredictable, cherish the fleeting moments, and have fun. Happy snapping!

Now over to you:

Do you have any other tips for photography children that I missed? Please share in the comments below!

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Dawn Bell
Dawn Bell

is a family, child, and wedding photographer in Manitoba, Canada. Her absolute favorite subjects are children – there is nothing quite like the expressions and giggles that naturally tumble out of them! She is also a pastor’s wife and mom to two beautiful girls. To see more of her work, you can check out her website and Facebook page. For some behind-the-scenes and glimpses of her personal life, you can also find her on Instagram.

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