Tips for Photographing Kids

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This particular photoshoot was with two girls who are best buds. Their mom’s wanted me to document some of their playtime, because they do everything together. Although I got lucky with these two sweet girls, the same tactics I used with their photoshoot is very much applicable to other photo sessions you may have with kids. I even use these same tactics with my 18 month old son. Here are three things you can do to get quality poses from your kid models.

1. Play games

Replace the word “photoshoot” with “playtime”. That is how you need to think of it. Instead of a “Thirty minute photoshoot”, you are involved in a “Thirty minute playtime” session. This will make the session more enjoyable for all parties involved. Teen and adult clients will sit, stand, and do pretty much any pose you can direct them to do. Kids almost do the opposite. They are not going to sit and smile for you, if not for long, at all. Their smiles need to come from genuine happiness, and playtime is a good way to get them in a happy mood.

With these girls, since they are best friends, it was easy to get them to goof around and play. They raced each other, they had a balancing competition, and brought several outfits to model. They played patty cake, skipped around, and played “what did I draw?” This was a spontaneous game I had the girls do, where one would pick an animal, and draw it on the palm of her friend. Then she had to guess. This kept them silently occupied and in perfect position for this picture:


Lifestyle Session (17 of 22)

And here is when they acted as my fashion models:

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And here is their balancing competition:

Lifestyle Session (20 of 22)

See? Playtime. Just do it. You don’t even have to get involved in the playtime if that isn’t your style. Just be fun and spontaneous, and keep coming up with ideas to encourage your subjects.

2. Location, Location, Location:

 Location is key with children. When working with adult models and clients, they are less concerned about their surroundings if they trust you to get the right angle. This works when working in tight spaces or in urban locations, as their might be unsightly surprises in the background whether that be construction or what have you. But with kids, they need lots of space to run around and feel comfortable in. This also helps with boredom, as you can keep moving and keep the session fresh. Use the surroundings in your composition, and as props. Your kid models will feel more connected to what you are trying to accomplish. For example:

 Park benches:

Lifestyle Session (4 of 22)

An old abandoned road:

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Abandoned train tracks:

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Lifestyle Session (21 of 22)

Lifestyle Session (22 of 22)

Location is not only key for the overall aesthetic of your photos, but key for helping your clients interact and become part of the surroundings. This helps with the general composition of your photograph. With kids, they see a fun location as an adventure.

3. Bring treats

Even with all the fun I had with these girls, they still needed a little pick-me-up. So I gave them some candy canes about halfway through our photo session. We even worked them into some photographs. I told them they could sit down and take a break while eating their hard earned treats. This gave them the sugar boost they needed to keep going, as well as keeping them happy to let me keep taking their photos.

Lifestyle Session (14 of 22)

I hope these simple tips help you when you photograph your own kids or your clients’ children!


You can see more from their photo session here.

One Comment on “Tips for Photographing Kids

  1. skipping down the road and the two on the railroad tracks