One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from parents is, “How can I take better pictures of my kids?” Photographing kids takes lots of practice, patience and a special touch. Children are so genuine. If you can learn how to engage with them, capturing their true selves on camera will come more easily. Here are my top five tips for photographing kids…
Tip #1: Give the Kids a Prop
Have you ever noticed that young children are constantly carrying objects around with them? My four-year-old always has a blankie, rock or some kind of toy in hand to fiddle with. Giving a child a prop to hold or engage with during picture time will lengthen their attention span and (hopefully) encourage them to stand still for a moment. Choose props that are relevant to the occasion or scene and your photos will be more memorable and interesting.
Tip #2: Let Them Play
Kids don’t like to sit still and “smile for the camera”. Provide an activity or space to play that is ideal for picture taking and then snap away, occasionally asking them to look your way. You might try playing in leaves, snow or with bubbles. Have them ride in a wagon, on a swing or a horse. The possibilities are endless…
Tip #3: Ask Questions, Suggest Actions
If you want to create photos of kids that don’t involve props or playing action, try asking questions like “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?” to help the kids relax and start to smile. The trick is to be ready to snap your shutter button at the moment they are thinking about chocolate ice cream (before they give their answer). You might also try suggesting specific actions like, “Can you give your sister a hug? Can you make a goofy face? Will you show me how you can twirl?” Engagement is key when photographing anyone, especially kids.
Tip #4: Make a Connection
The most endearing portraits and candid photos are those that invoke a feeling of emotional connection to the subject. Shooting at eye level is a great way to establish that connection in your photos. Filling the frame, so we really get a good look into the child’s eyes will also help. If you are not photographing your own children, building a rapport with a child will also play a role in making and capturing a connection, which leads me to tip #5…
Tip #5: Be Patient and Kind
The most important thing to remember when photographing kids is to be patient. They have a lot of energy and a hard time sitting still for long. Often the best shots I get are after a child has been running around and sits down for two seconds to rest. Keep your eyes open and your camera ready for photo opportunities.
If you are photographing the children of a friend or client, be kind and reassuring to the parents. Smile a lot and make positive observations about the children and family. Allow time for breaks or snacks during the photo shoot. Stressed out parents will appreciate all of these gestures!