Tips for Getting Great Pics of Your Kids

Photographing kids can be amazingly tough, but we’ve developed a few tips and tricks over the years that help get the job done (and keep parent and child from breaking into tears…)

1. LET GO OF YOUR EXPECTATIONS – Often, unrealistic expectations are our own worst enemy. We might fantasize about cherub-like pictures of poised and smiling faces (in coordinated outfits, of course) but come on…. are your kids perfect angels most of the time? Ours aren’t. Before you even break out the camera, accept that perfection is not going to happen. A more realistic goal is to get a few cute pictures of your children in all their (im)perfect glory.

2. MAKE IT FUN – Take them to the park. Go to the PlayPlace. Set them free in an environment that they love and THEN take out the camera. If you want pictures of your children happy, you have to do something that actually makes them happy. Children are often scared of bright flashes and the sterile environment of a studio – in fact, many kids are a bit freaked out by a camera. I find it helpful to take a picture and then show them the results on the playback screen. The most frightened, skeptical child will often become intrigued and open up this way, excited to see themselves on the little screen.

3. KEEP IT LAID BACK – There’s no faster way to make a kid grumpy and disinterested than to plead over and over, “Smile! Look at the camera! SMILE!” Something primal rises up in them and soon enough, you can’t even get the kid to look your way. Tempers flare, yelling ensues, and then the tears start rolling. Do your best to keep your calm and keep it fun, even if that means putting the camera away for a while.

4. FORGET THE FAMILY PHOTO – We often want that perfect family photo with everyone together, smiling, glowing with the love of being together as a family…. but there is no harder photo to get. Especially with kids involved, there are many variables that easily go awry (someone’s not smiling, someone’s not looking in the right direction, someone’s picking their nose). If the family photo just isn’t working, focus instead on getting great shots of each individual and then put them together in a collage frame or as a series on your wall. This works particularly well for very small children who may not even understand the concept of “Look here! Smile!”

5. THINK OF THEM AS WILD BEASTS – Think of yourself as a National Geographic photographer and the children as beasts in the wild. Stay out of their way and keep the camera action sneaky. My husband often uses the trick of folding out the tilt screen of his camera so that he can hold the camera down low and take pictures on the sly. We also love to use sports mode – like wild animals, children move quickly and so unpredictably – if your camera has a sports mode, you can get many shots per second so you’re much more likely to get a cute pic!

6. TIME THE SHOOT JUST RIGHT – The best time for this type of shoot is right after a nap and a meal. Bring snacks, drinks, extra outfits and wipes for the boogied nose that will surely start running as soon as you take a picture. Keep the session short, but if the kids start to melt down, grab a few pictures of that too – it may not seem charming at the moment, but in a few years, you’ll look back on those screaming faces and think, “Oh… how cute!”

What challenges you most about photographing kids? What are your best tips?

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