Is there any subject more suited to your camera lens than your own child?
Moms and dads often have albums packed full of pictures of their little ones on their phones and laptops. However, while 99% of those snaps might be suitable for Facebook, they’re probably not professional enough to earn a framed spot on your wall.
That’s because most of the photos that we take are those organic lifestyle shots. The blurry, slightly out-of-focus images that you get when your kid is running wild around the park, or happily slurping their third ice cream of the weekend.
While we adore those imperfect pictures and love sharing them with our family (sometimes a little too much), many of us crave one or two perfect portraits for the living or dining room too.
The only problem?
Our kids might be our favorite thing to take pictures of – but they’re not the easiest.
Unlike a bowl of fruit or a freshly bloomed flower, kids aren’t particularly cooperative in a photoshoot environment. They’re playful, unruly, and unpredictable.
Fortunately, we’ve got some tips on how to take good pictures of your kids without going crazy.
Let’s get started.
How Do You Photograph Kids Indoors?
The answer to this question is usually: with great difficulty.
Indoor portraits of a child sitting peacefully on a chair or reading a book are one in a million. That’s because when your child is settled indoors, they’re often tired and unwilling to accommodate you with a list of child photography poses. What’s more, children look best in natural light.
Getting them outdoors will imbue your little ones with that youthful energy that you want to capture on film.
That’s why one of our top child photography tips is: find the right location first.
Think of a place where you and youngsters have the most fun together. It might be a park, the beach, or just your yard. Whatever works for you is fine. Spend some time having fun together first, then let them go and play on their own, taking candid shots as they do. As your child starts to feel more comfortable with the camera, you can gradually suggest certain poses that they might want to try.
Photographing your kids in their favorite places will lead to more natural, authentic shots. Plus, you’ll be able to see the genuine joy in your child’s face that you want to preserve forever.
How Do You Photograph Toddlers Outside?
The younger your child is, the tougher the photography session is going to be.
That’s because you only have so much time with a toddler before they start to get tired, cranky, and uncooperative.
Plan your photo shoot for a day when you know you’re going to have plenty of natural light from the sun. Ideally, you’ll want a day that’s not in the height of summer, or in winter.
Too hot, and your toddler will get uncomfortable fast. Too cold, and they’ll be so bundled up that you won’t be able to see their beautiful face!
Once you get your little one outside, focus on shooting pictures of your child as they are, not how you want them to be. In other words, don’t try and get your toddler to accommodate your requests for poses. They’re not an up-and-coming model. You’re dealing with a kid here – let them be childish.
Accept the silly poses and faces, let your child have fun and capture images of them enjoying the moment. Those images will give you a lot more happy memories than the photos you would finally get after the tears and tantrums of forcing your little one into a certain pose.
How Do You Photography a Kid’s Birthday Party?
There are a lot of moments in a child’s life that you’ll want to preserve with photography.
A birthday party is a big one!
However, when your little ones and their friends are hopped up on sugar and cake, getting that perfect shot becomes a lot more difficult.
Our best advice for taking child photos at a birthday party is to lurk.
Hang out in the background and snap pictures when the opportunity presents itself. Don’t try to push your kids into posing when they want to be having fun and enjoying the day. Moments will arise that are perfect for photos. For instance, when your kid is gathered around the cake, having “Happy Birthday” sung to them.
The rest of the day, practice grabbing candid shots from a distance. Don’t worry – your kids will still have amazing memories, even if the photos aren’t perfect.
How Do I Get My Toddler to Cooperate for Pictures?
The answer to this question is easier than it seems – you don’t.
Toddlers are whirlwinds of energy and excitement. You can’t expect them to sit down and pose nicely for a picture. The best you can do is make the most of the real experience you’re going to get. Enjoy the opportunity to grab some real, candid moments on film.
For instance, find an opportunity to make your kid laugh!
You don’t want a picture of your toddler with a forced fake smile or a confused expression. You want a photo of them brimming with real joy.
A good way to get just the expression that you’re looking for is to ask your kid to make some silly faces with you at the camera. Eventually, the experience of being photographed will feel less like a chore and more like a game.
You’ll grab some fantastic pictures of your little one mid-laugh with this strategy. Plus, you’ll turn the photography experience into something fun and interesting, instead of something that your kid dreads. Even if you don’t get the picture that you had hoped for the first time that you try – your youngster will be more inclined to try again with you later.
How Do You Take Pictures of Kids without Tantrums?
This is a toughie.
There’s no guarantee that you’re not going to get a tantrum when you’re taking photos of your kids. Be prepared for a lot of tears and file them away in your "proof that being a mom is really hard" box (I promise, you will be glad you have them later).
You can’t guarantee a day without tantrums regardless of what you’re doing. Kids are pretty unpredictable that way. However, we do have a few child photography tips that could make the experience a bit easier for both of you.
For instance, start by speaking your child’s language, if they’re old enough to speak with you. Ask your kid what kind of pictures they think would look good. Look for their tips on how you can get a really good picture. Your child might not be a professional photographer, but they’ll love acting as if they are.
Give your kid a chance to tell you what to do, and they’ll be much more likely to give you a good picture in return.
Don’t forget, when you’re taking your photos, you’re going to be a lot taller than your subject too. Spending all your time looking down at your kids can make them feel weird and self-conscious. However, if you get down to the same level as your kids, then they’ll feel more comfortable – like they’re just having fun with mummy or daddy.
Dropping down to a lower angle will also allow you to vary your shots and get a range of different images from unique angles.
What camera do You Use for Children Photography?
That all depends.
When it comes to child photography tips, most parents want the answer to questions like “what is the best lens for children photography?” or “How expensive should my camera be?”
Obviously, a professional camera is going to deliver higher-quality photos than your smartphone. However, you don’t necessarily need to spend thousands of dollars on the right device, either.
Big and bulky cameras can make your kids feel uncomfortable. It might be worth practicing taking some shots with your phone before you gradually work up to using a more professional camera.
Remember, no matter which lens or device you’re using, you’ll need plenty of natural light. This will make it much easier to edit your photos and make them look their best.
If you do have a professional camera, it can be a good idea to use a wide aperture for maximum impact. A combined lens of about 85mm or longer and a reasonable amount of space between your child and background can lead to a dreamier, more whimsical effect.
You might also decide to experiment with higher ISO levels, as children move a lot more than adults. This means that you need a much faster shutter speed. Stick with a prime lens of around 50 to 85mm, and experiment with different shots.
When Should You Do Baby Photos
Timing will always be essential in child photography.
You need the right time of day to deliver the most natural light without blinding your kids. You also need to pick a moment when your child is in just the right mood to allow their photo to be taken.
Unless you’re a professional child photographer, it can feel as though the stars really need to align to make photographing your little one a possibility.
When you’re looking to take baby pictures, usually, you’ll need a day when they have plenty of rest, and they’re in a generally good mood. Don’t take pictures right after you or your partner gives birth. Give your child a chance to grow a little first.
Babies between about 7 and 10 days old are usually pretty chill and sleepy, so you can take more time getting the right pictures. If you want more of a chubby-cheeked little tyke, then you can take pictures anywhere through the first few months.
Remember, every baby is different. Some will need time for their jaundice to settle after birth. Others will need more time for bruises to reduce. Birth can be a messy experience!
How to Take Good Pictures of Your Kids
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to make the perfect pictures of your kids. Children are one of the best subjects for photography. They’re beautiful, full of life, and bound to produce some of the most meaningful images for us as parents.
However, your kids are also very difficult to take pictures of. Children are unpredictable and packed with energy that we parents just can’t control.
With that in mind, one of the best child photography tips you can keep in mind is this: “Stop trying to get perfection.”
Expect mess, fuss, and tantrums.
Assume that every photo session is going to end up with hundreds of unusable pictures, and remember that it’s fine to take a break, or give up on a session completely if it’s not working.
The tips above will help you a great deal when it comes to taking child photos. However, you’re still going to need one thing that you just can’t learn: and that is patience. If you keep taking enough bad pictures, you'll find some diamonds in the rough.