How To Photograph Your Kids
Kids can be really hard to photograph, they don’t stop moving, get bored very quickly, can have a tantrum at the drop of a hat and are often difficult to direct. Over the years of photographing kids, I have learnt a few tricks on How To photograph Your Kids to make the process a little easier and today I’m going to share them with you.
Whether I’m taking photos of my own kids or a client’s – preparation is key.
The most important being food and sleep. If a child has had a nap, woken up and been fed, you have got them at their best and they are much more willing to co-operate.
Relax! I always tell my parents that kids will be kids and at some point will be uncooperative. When this happens just go with it and try to stay calm and keep giving cuddles. I want mum and dad to be relaxed and to not worry about how their child is behaving. Children pick up on stress and feed off it, if they see you are having a good time they are more likely to want to come and join in the fun.
By all means have a treat or snacks waiting for them in the car but please don’t bring these to the shoot with you, I have seen all too often kids getting distracted by the promise of a treat.
Bring along your normal changing bag with a change of clothes, nappies, sun lotion and tissues for those runny noses.
Break the ice
Before I even get my camera out I have chat with your kids. I ask their name, how old they are, favourite TV programme (for smaller children I ask parents beforehand). This helps children feel at ease with me and their surroundings.
Playing a game always helps to break the ice. I find kids are a lot more interested and want to interact with you if you have taken the time to get to know them and play a bit beforehand.
Have fun and be silly
So here are some of the main tricks I use to get a smile or a laugh.
- Try and capture them before they lose interest and get bored. If this does not work try the opposite and let them burn off some steam by running around. When they are feeling tired sit down with a picnic and get some more relaxed photos.
- Let them be free, kids don’t like being put in a spot and asked to smile. Let them run around and capture the true laughter and not the cheese face they pull to the camera.
- Make things a game, a round of the tickle monster is sure to get a laugh or two. Ask parents to tickle their children and siblings to tickle each other.
- Race toward me is always a good one 1,2,3 GO!
- Make the children run to find the object. When they have it they usually run straight for you (normally with a smile on their face) to show you what they have found.
- Swinging in the air. This is sure to get a smile and remember to keep taking photos after the child has come down. Chances are they are going to look directly at you.
- With new babies and older siblings, ask the older child to interact with the baby, show them a toy, read a book or count their toes.
- Get siblings to interact with each other. Hop on one foot, run and hug, and skip down the path holding hands
- Give them an activity – painting, gluing anything that involves them sitting down and then just snap away at the fun.
- Ask children to show off a talent or trick that they have learnt.
- Take pictures while they are napping. Nothing beats a sleeping peaceful child.
- Make everything a game, this way they won’t even notice you are taking pictures, peekaboo is a good one for smaller children.
- Sing! Most kids love nursery rhymes especially the ones with actions. I normally ask clients before a shoot what their child’s favourite song or book is.
- Dance! Ring around the roses is always a fun one.
- Reverse psychology! Ask a child not to do something and it makes they want to do it even more. “Don’t smile, don’t kiss mummy” and I bet you they will just go ahead and do it. You can tell them how cheeky they are, and this makes it into a game where they just keep doing it.
- Take a break! If I see that a child is really not having fun, we take a break and let them go off and play. I use this time to take candid shots or photos of other members of the family. Quite often the child sees you having fun and wants to join back in.
- Tell kids to pick out a rock, flower, leaf anything they want and tell them they can keep it forever. It makes this item feel so special and they are so happy to possess it, that it normally bring out a smile on their face.
- Don’t push kids to do what you want. You may have an idea in your head but if your kids aren’t up to it, then just let them explore. You may find you end up getting better pictures than you originally thought.
- Pull a funny face. Kids love pulling faces and although it may seem like you don’t want these pictures, when I present them to my clients they often love them as they say it represents their child so well.
- And hey if all else fails use a bribe, most kids will work for chocolate.
Working with kids is certainly not easy, but when it works you can get some of the most amazing pictures so just make sure you set your composition, lighting and camera settings and wait for a moment to happen.
I hope you have enjoyed this post on How to photograph your kids and got some tips from it.
What things do you do to get those all-important smiles?
Leave me a comment below.