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Photographing Young Personalities With Fun Props

In this quick reader tip one of our forum members Brandon Price shares a tip on photographing kids.

I recently made plans to take portraits of some friends’ two little boys — two and four years old — an age I hadn’t ever done formally. A couple hours before we were to meet, I took a nap and dreamt that the whole thing went horribly. I woke up extremely nervous; I knew these boys wouldn’t take direction very easily, and the whole session was going to be very awkward if I didn’t think of something.

Sidewalk Fun

I realized that they needed something to do while I worked. I made a run to Wal-Mart and bought a big blue ball, some sidewalk chalk, and some bubbles. I thought if I could just get them focused on having fun, I could spend my time capturing that fun.

As little as these kids are, they’ve already been trained to look at any camera pointed at them with an awful smile and say, “Cheese!” Fortunately, it only took a few minutes for them to forget about me and start focusing on throwing the ball with dad. The blue ball didn’t fit with the rest of the scene, so I just shot before and after they would catch and throw it. After a few minutes we moved on to the sidewalk chalk, and then to the bubbles (though looking back, I’d definitely do the chalk last because it was very messy).


Aside from the beautiful shots, the most rewarding part of the day was hearing mom and dad talk about this being the first photosession the kids were able to have fun with. After showing the proofs to mom, she wrote me this note: “I’ve been telling people for years how adorable my children are and it’s nice for someone to capture pictures that really helps showcase what I see in them all the time.”

Bringing fun props allowed the children to have fun, and I was able to capture their personalities, rather than awful stiffness. Putting a little thought into ways to incorporate fun into our shoot made all the difference — both for the boys, and for mom and dad.


Check out more of Brandon’s work on Flickr.

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