Top Pro Tips for Photographing Children

One the most challenging genres of professional photography must be children. Most kids are as dynamic as the images you’re trying to create, and if you are to achieve any form of success you need to know some basic tips. No child is the same and therefore each situation is unique. Applying the pros’ secrets helps you get great photos of kids.

child portrait photography

“Untitled” captured by Abbie Pepple (Click image to see more from Pepple.)

All of us want the ability to document the lives of our family members visually. You only get one chance, and if you don’t get it right, you can’t start over again. This is especially key for children’s photos. That first birthday party, and even more importantly, the birth of a child, only happens once. Getting it right first time is vital. So here goes:

1. You choose the setting.

By choosing the right location and environment you get to set the scene. Make sure that the light is great, the props are there and the fun activities are available. You get to control the backgrounds and the activities. What you allow into the environment will have a direct impact on your final product. If there is something that is disruptive then you are to blame. So plan your setting carefully.

professional child portraiture

“Untitled” captured by Irina Oreshina (Click image to see more from Oreshina.)

2. Make it fun.

If there was just one tip I could give you that would contribute to taking successful images of your children, it would be this one. The idea of calling the family together and saying that it’s time for photographs just doesn’t work. Calling them together for a fun family time will create an atmosphere of fun around which you can shoot a load of great images.

outdoor family portrait

“Untitled” captured by Irina Oreshina (Click image to see more from Oreshina.)

3. Shoot candids.

In an atmosphere of fun, even the more reticent child comes out of his or her shell and engages in the fun activities. While the fun and entertainment is on, take a background position and start to shoot anything and everything that moves. A zoom lens will help give you a little distance so that you aren’t in their faces. Try to anticipate their moves and where they will be after an action. Focus at the end of a water slide so that as the child hits the water, you get the shot.

candid child portraiture

“Feel the freshness…” captured by Ronie Perez (Click image to see more from Perez.)

4. Shoot at eye level.

There is nothing worse than taking photos of children looking down on them. You will rarely see pros doing this. Get down or up to the child’s level so that you are shooting at eye level. The child must be looking straight at the camera. Of course there are times when you climb above them to get the effect of them all looking up at the camera, but that is for effect.

outdoor child portrait

“Untitled” captured by Irina Oreshina (Click image to see more from Oreshina.)

5. Use props.

This point is strongly tied to tip 2: making it fun. Toys, games, and other activities really help, but if the child has something in his or her hand or is sitting inside, on top of, or beside something it adds a little extra to the shot. Props help focus the child’s attention and give confidence to the shy child. Often in these situations, you can engage a child through the prop or toy. Be very careful, though, that the prop does not dominate the photo and detract from the child who is being photographed.

child portrait with props

“Go Ahead Make My Day” captured by Robert Davis (Click image to see more from Davis.)

These are just some of the tricks pros use to shoot successful children’s photos. Use them well and you will take great photos of the kids. Happy shooting!

posed child portrait

“Mya” captured by Yvonne Perkins (Click image to see more from Perkins.)

About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography. He has produced 21 Steps to Perfect Photos; a program of learner-based training using outcomes based education.

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current: