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5 Tips to Taking Pictures of Your Kids

Taking pictures of children can be very exhausting. They want to run around, they want to play, they squirm and they are FAST. Let's face it, to a child, getting your picture taken is a distraction from a world of colorful objects to play with and chew on. Some children, although cute, are very stubborn when it comes to picture time and will do everything possible to avoid it. On the other hand, other children get it and once you pull out your camera they will give you their most painful looking grimace version of their smiles -- to get you out of their faces -- and after one or two shutter clicks they're running away to continue playing

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I got my niece, Brooke (or Brookie as we affectionately call her), to model for me yesterday.
Although she's my niece and comfortable with me, she's still a handful to photograph.
It just goes to show that even your kids will give you a hard time.

A lot of you are wondering how I get children excited about having their pictures taken, so I've put together a list of ways that you can get those natural and authentic photos of your children with very little work. This is not a one-size-fits-all method of photographing kids, it's just what works for me. 

YOU'RE TOO CHEEEEEEEESY!:
Never ever... EVER tell your little ones to say cheese. It forces out that painful grimace of a smile that I was talking about earlier. Right now, I want you to say "cheeeeeese", as if you were about to have your picture taken, and hold it for 5 seconds. What do you feel? Absolutely nothing. Sure, the corners of your mouth may be pitched for a teethy "perfect smile", but the eyes aren't. They are, and feel, dull and lifeless and forced.

There are several methods to getting your child to smile. You know them and what they like, this is no different than any other play time. Initiate those games and all will turn out great.

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STOOP TO THEIR LEVEL
You'd look intimidated and uncomfortable too if you had someone 2-4 feet taller than you cowering over you with a camera pointed in your face. Children seem to feel a lot more at ease when you're on their level. Also, it's so much easier to engage them and make them feel involved in what you're doing. Either kneel, sit or lay down while you're taking their picture -- or bring them up to you by sitting them on a chair or standing them up on the couch. It's ok to break small house rules to get the perfect shot. 

BE INVITED INTO THEIR LITTLE WORLDS
This is the most important step. Engaging children and allowing them to trust you is the most crucial part of getting genuine pictures. Simply be yourself, ask them questions, be silly and play for a few moments before you start shooting. Kids are ten times more perceptive than adults, so they can tell easily when you are frustrated and just want to get the job done. 

Ask them what they've learned in school
Ask them about their favorite cartoons
Get silly
Balance a ball on your heads
Tell them to roar like a ladybug (this works for little girls)
Once you start shooting show them their picture, it helps them become more eager to have you take more.

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ITS ADVENTURE TIME
I normally don't tell kids -- or encourage parents to tell their kids -- that we will just be taking pictures. Although some children get excited, to others it sounds like, "we're going to the dentist." By telling your kids that it's adventure time sets them up in a mood to play, which is exactly how you should want them to feel. Photo shoots are supposed to be as fun as going on a play date or a trip to the park.

Also, centering the photo shoot around fun adventures -- like baking a cake or cookies, a trip to the firehouse, zoo or park -- helps children get excited about whatever they encounter during the day. These types of shoots are some of my favorites because it allows me to be able to tell a story as the day unfolds.

LET THEM BE THEM
The whole point in taking natural and authentic portraits is that they're... natural and authentic. Children don't sit and pose perfectly -- they run around, get dirty and play -- that's exactly how I like to photograph them. It allows you, later on in life, to to remember and see all dimensions and elements of their little lives. While they're doing what they love to do, they're going to be giving you their real expressions and reactions. Always have the camera ready. Once they're good and into what they're doing, simply get their attention by calling their name and you've got that perfect portrait of them looking and smiling at the camera.

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My approach and philosophy to children's photography is simple... "Let them be them." I strive to photograph people as natural as possible -- your child does not need to have perfectly combed hair or a brand new outfit or to sit perfectly posed and still -- what matters is the now (what they love doing and who they are) -- and capturing that now to last forever.

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Thank you Brookie for being a gorgeous model! Uncle B love you!

Thank you for visiting the Blog at Bryant Tyson Photography! If you'd like to book a session or find out more information, email me at info@btphotographyonline.com or visit www.memoriesbybryant.com.
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