The Art of Photographing Children

If there is anything I learned in all these years working with children, as a teacher and a photographer, it is that kids don’t like sitting still and following orders. They don’t. Children in general do not enjoy being told what to do… and if you really think about it, neither do adults.

An ideal session for me is one where the kids are just allowed to be kids. I like to encourage them to joke with their parents and siblings, I like when they take turns directing the session, I like when they come up with weird shot ideas, and I absolutely love that when you listen to children, they listen to you.

Children want to have fun, run, and play. They don’t really want to be told what to do or sit in silence while holding a pose or “smiling big.” The beauty of photographing children is that, to get wonderful images, they don’t have to. All they have to do is relax and be themselves.



When you arrive and the kids get out of the car we introduce ourselves. It is important for me talk to them directly and shake their little hands. Some kids are a little shy and will hide behind mom and dad, but most of them love shaking hands and tell me all about their outfit or special toy they brought with them .

Kids have a lot of energy in general, and we need to address that. Whenever there is a new person or an unusual situation going on, they act a little more anxious / active / loud than usual. So the first step is to have them run around a bit. I might do some jumping shots to burn some energy and have them run away and toward the camera. This allows them to understand that the session will be fun and they get used to following my instructions. Also, during this time I will ask them for suggestions, do they want to hold that stick? Do they want to jump from that rock? You think that hiding behind the tree looks cool? Kids have crazy ideas, I will listen to all of them and, though sometimes their ideas don’t make the best photos, it allows them to get comfortable and make this new experience their own. When we listen to kids, really listen, and ask them for advise, wonderful things happen .

After burning some energy and getting some fun action shots, we will move to more traditional portraits. At this time the kids are more comfortable and are used to following my instructions. We will also take this time to come up with “code words.” For example, when it is time to be silly, we will say: “crazy ant attack.” This allows kids to be as silly as they want for a few seconds, and it gives me control over when the silliness does happen and, more importantly, when it doesn’t.

We know that sometimes, when kids try to follow instructions, they can get a bit carried away… that will happen, and it is ok. I love taking that energy and redirecting it so it can be productive and help us make great photos. Sometimes it makes for great behind the scenes photos too 🙂

Photographing kids is fun, it should be. I can create wonderful images with big honest smiling faces because we are honestly having fun.

If you are looking for a fun experience where you get to sit back, relax, and enjoy a day our with your family give us a call and book your session now!

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