How To Take Pictures of Children

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by David Peterson


Kids are very fun to photograph. The photos you take of your children will last for years, and you’ll always remember them fondly. In fact, it could be argued that if weren’t for our desire to photograph our children, photography wouldn’t be where it is today. What better way to get into this hobby than to create memories with the pictures we take? And what better way to sell your spouse on the idea of an expensive camera than the prospect of taking pictures of their kids together?


Despite how fun it is, taking photos of your kids can be challenging. Kids are easily distracted, bored, and sometimes unwilling to cooperate. They have their own agenda, and if you don’t learn how to work within it and make your shoot fun, most kids will run the show. Here are a few things you can do to take better photos of your children without creating the boring atmosphere we all remember from our own childhood photos.

Minimize Posed Shots

First and foremost, do whatever you can to minimize the amount of “posed” photos you take. The goal is to bring out your kids’ natural emotions. Get them outside and doing some activities instead of staying in the house. Watch them playing on the swingset and take some photos of them doing their own thing. If they don’t know you’re taking photos, or they’re very used to the camera, the photos will end up much more candid than the traditional shots you often see.

Kids need to be constantly engaged. Whatever you can do to keep them interested and contributing to your shoot will help. Tell stories, jokes, and make lots of funny faces. If you’re getting a lot of reactions from your kids, your doing well. The more fun they’re having, the better the photos will turn out.


Get Down To Their Level

It’s important to get down to the level of your children. When I say this, I mean it in a very literal sense. Get down on your elbows and knees and see the world the way your children see it. Pictures taken from above emphasize how small your children are, but pictures were taken at their level portray them with respect and personality. Just doing this one little thing will make the photos you take of your children stand out much more than the ones most parents take.


Minimize Distractions From Your Camera

Sometimes it can take an age to sort out your camera’s settings to get a perfect shot. This is not the kind of thing to do with kids waiting for you to take a photo. Remember the boredom factor and get your shot setup quickly. Or better yet, use the automatic mode of your camera so your camera does all the work. This not only saves you time, it keeps the show moving right along.

This is another reason why you’ll want to take most of the photos outdoors. When you’re outside in the bright sun, you almost never have to use a flash. If you use a flash and are switching between portrait and landscape modes you can sometimes have to keep adjusting your flash to compensate for it. It’s just not worth having to futz with. Keep your equipment to a minimum, and you’ll have a lot less hassle. Plus YOU will enjoy the session more.

Include ‘Favorites’

While you’re doing all of this, don’t forget to stop and take some photos of things you won’t want to forget. Maybe your child has a favorite story she likes to read or a favorite stuffed animal. Try to include these props in the photos you take in the most natural way possible. Many years down the road, you will go through these albums and remember all the little things that made your children’s childhood so special. Your kids (despite the embarrassment) will be happy you took the time to include these small things.

Don’t Force It

As a last bit of advice, don’t try to force a photo session to happen when it just isn’t in the cards. When kids are tired and bored, they won’t want to be photographed. And even if you manage to rattle off a few shots, they probably won’t look nearly as good as they would if your child is engaged and having fun. As soon as you start to see the signs of boredom, put the camera away and do something else.

I can’t wait to see the photos you’ve taken of your children! Send them in, and I might get inspired to do a critique.

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