Getting amazing photos, especially of uncooperative kids, is difficult! That’s why we’ve put together a list of awesome tips for photographing children from the pros who do it for a living. The following 7 tips include advice on smiles, camera settings and more than can help you get that perfect picture of your kids whether it’s at home, at the park, at school or somewhere else.
1. Don’t shoot fake smiles – Natalie Norton @natalienorton
Natalie says that the best child photos are genuine and authentic. Her one rule as a photographer is to never shoot fake smiles. Coax out the real and happy emotions from your kids during a photo shoot by relaxing and letting them play. When you aren’t so concerned with the perfect pictures, you may find even more opportunities to take them.
Natalie Norton is a writer and a lifestyle wedding and portrait photographer who shoots across the globe. She is based off of the North Shore of Oahu and out of Gilbert, Arizona. Read more of Natalie’s tips at Cut the Cheese: 5 Tips for Photographing Kids.
2. The only thing required is joy – Alice Park @napcp_tweets
Alice says that she is not shy about asking moms to step into photographs. In her blog, SESSION SHARE : MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS, she says “I promise to photograph you and your children in the most flattering light. The only thing required is JOY.”
Alice is a passionate photographer, wife and mother of two. She is board member for non-profits centering around children and mothers and creates annual albums called Folio books for her clientele, which document birth forward. In 2009, her and her husband created the National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) out of their love for photography.
Check out more of Alice’s work at her blog.
3. Get down on their level – Darlene Hildebrandt @dpmentor
Darlene says that when you take pictures of children from an adult perspective, it can make those kids look even smaller. Get better photos by getting down to their level and playing in the sandbox with them. Don’t stand over looking down. She also says you have to get on their level moth literally and figuratively. Not only should you be taking photos from a little lower, you should also learn how to take photos while playing, coloring and interacting with the child.
Darlene Hildebrandt is the Managing Editor of dPS. She is also an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through articles, online photography classes, and travel tours. Learn more at 7 Tips for Photographing Kids.
4. If your original idea isn’t going well, try something different – Jennifer Dell @jenniferdell
Jennifer says that if the photo shoot you had planned isn’t working at all, don’t be afraid to try something different. She tells the story of how a Valentine’s day themed shoot turned into an almost-disaster with her son picking up a dead mouse. Once she regrouped, she was able to take some of her favorite photos ever.
Jennifer enjoys photographing children and families with candid, natural expressions. She got her photography start in high school with photojournalism, and in college when her love of photography was rekindled while studying graphic design. Read more of Jennifer’s tips at 8 Tips for Photographing Uncooperative Children.
5. Don’t put the camera down! – Rebecca Dawe @rebeccadawe
Rebecca says that since children move around a lot, they provide the opportunity for multiple great shots…but not for very long. “Keep shooting, keep watching, keep the creativity flowing.” She also says that even if your child just wants to be silly, keep taking photos. Some of them may turn out amazing, and eventually you’ll get a flash of a genuine smile in there.
Rebecca takes professional wedding and portrait photos, specializing in creating beautiful, natural photographs. Read more tips at Top 10 Children’s Photography Tips.
6. Use continuous mode – Jeff Meyer @dcammag
Jeff recommends switching your camera’s shooting mode to continuous, so when you’re getting some good shots you can hold the button down to take several shots in succession. That way, you’re more likely to have an amazing shot in the sequence. He reminds photographers to invest in a large memory card and make sure there’s enough memory to store multiple raw format files.
Jeff Meyer writes multiple posts for Digital Camera World. Read more at Child Photography: tips for taking natural-looking portraits of children.
7. Have the props to entertain the child or to set the mood for the photo shoot – Lola Elise @lolaelise
Lola says children tend to get nervous when seeing a new room full of equipment and a new person taking pictures of them. Photographers should bond with the children in order to help them relax. If you’re taking photos of your own kids, you have an advantage in this regard, but must still make it fun for the child when taking photos. You can have toys, bubble makers, balloons, candy and other things handy. The main purpose is to have the child relax so you can get a great photo.
Lola is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. She is the co-author of Photography Life and author of the Lola Elise website. Read more at How to Photograph Children.