8 Outdoor Child Portrait Photography Tips (Video Tutorial)

Children are endearing, free-spirited, and full of life. Their bodies and minds are stuck in a state of perpetual motion. Unfortunately, many of the qualities that people love about children are the same attributes that make them difficult subjects for many photographers. Even the most experienced artists may run in to some trouble when it comes to capturing something as natural as a child’s laughter:

Having worked with models of all ages from across the globe, photographer Karl Taylor has a knack for communicating with kids. Here are a few tips that he’s found to be especially effective over the years:

1. Keep them entertained. It doesn’t take long for kids to grow bored. To keep their attention on a shoot, create games, tell jokes, and above all, communicate often with the subjects. Children are incredibly perceptive. If you’re having fun, chances are that they will, too.

2. The shorter the shoot, the better. Keep in mind that interaction and communication will only take you so far in a child’s photo shoot. Do your best to wrap the shoot up before your models begin to grow tired or impatient.

3. Get to the same level. Kneeling down and working at the same height as your subject has multiple advantages. Not only will you be able to get a closer, clearer view of your subject, you’ll also find that being on equal ground will result in a child being more receptive to instruction.

4. Use versatile equipment. In the video, Taylor utilizes a 70–200mm lens that allows more flexibility than fixed glass would. He also employs his camera’s auto-focus to capture the quick movements of the children in perfect clarity.

5. Have an assistant tag along. A source of back up can make all of the difference in child’s photo shoot. Not only can the extra hands help the shoot move along at a faster pace, another person can also serve as a source of entertainment and a means of keeping the subjects engaged for a longer period of time.

6. Be encouraging. Simply enough, children respond well to positive reinforcement. Be outgoing, friendly, and let your models know when they are doing an excellent job.

7. Try out different techniques. If a pose or idea isn’t materializing the way you’d envisioned, it’s often better to move on to something new that your subject might be more receptive to. Trying unsuccessfully to force a shot that isn’t meant to be will likely only result in frustration for all parties involved.

8. Improvise! Kids are spontaneous by nature. Allow time for them to be themselves; more often than not, these funny, candid moments are what an audience wants to see most.

Children at play

“Getting the kids to mess around a little bit actually made for a better shot.”

The next time you’re booked for a photo shoot featuring kids, don’t break out into a cold sweat. Photographing children does not have to be an arduous task. Often times, the most valuable advice is to let loose, open your imagination, and try to embrace your inner child.

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