- Children’s Portrait Photography Tip #1 - Get Down On Their Level
- Children’s Portrait Photography Tip #2 - Forget the Posing Guide
- Children’s Portrait Photography Tip #3 - Use Continuous Lights
- Children’s Portrait Photography Tip #4 - Make Really Good Prints
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Photo by Raul Rodriguez via iStock
Children’s portrait photography requires some special considerations beyond what we already know about portraiture.
For any style of portrait photography, corporate headshots, glamour portraits, family portraits, engagement photos, and other styles, we pull out of our bag of tricks for posing ideas, exposure guides, flash and lighting setups, and selective focus.
All of those portrait tips will be used in children’s portrait photography, plus we add a few extra tips, tricks, and ideas. Let’s get going!
Table of Contents:
Children’s Portrait Photography Tip #1 - Get Down On Their Level
Photo by ti-ja via iStock
The first for great children’s portrait photography might as well be stated as a rule. An open-ended rule, sure, but still. Whether the child is an infant or getting up to and beyond the tween years, we want to avoid that ‘adult looking down’ vantage point for our camera.
Getting on their level provides a naturalness and comfort for the subject and photographer alike. This results in images that are pleasurable to show and view. Shooting down generally gives children’s portrait photography little more than a snapshot feel, even if we use masterful lighting, posing, and composition techniques.
Photo by eclipse_images via iStock
Getting down on their level is also good for the kids. When mom or dad takes their kid to a photographer, and that tall stranger barks orders to them with their face partially hidden by the camera, that can be intimidating.
We know that the photographer in this situation is a nice person and is not barking orders, but it can seem that way to the small subject, ending up with the same boring, stiff portraits we’ve seen over and over.
Infant or newborn photography is a special subset of children’s portrait photography with even more techniques for successful portraiture. Posing tables accomplish the goal of getting down to their level by bringing the subject up to ours. We’ve had some articles covering this specialty niche of children’s photography. You might want to read them if newborn photography is your primary focus.
Children’s Portrait Photography Tip #2 - Forget the Posing Guide
Children's portrait photography tip number two goes hand in hand with getting down on their level. For most children’s portrait photography, naturalness is one of the foremost goals. Forgetting the posing guide doesn’t mean totally throwing out any posing ideas, just not making the mistake of attempting to place a square peg into a round hole.
Here’s how to avoid that trap: move with the flow. You can tell the child things like “Hey, let's stand over here” or “Look over here” to guide the natural flow of the session. If you’re taking the images outside, you may need to stay on top of unexpected quick movements, but even that can work out in your favor for capturing natural pics.
You can control the workflow in children’s portrait photography. It simply requires a little extra alertness from the photographer.
Your lens choice plays into this as well. Some pros suggest using a normal focal length or short telephoto prime lens while others extoll the virtues of a high quality, fast aperture normal range zoom lens. Whatever your gear choices, staying mobile, zooming with your feet, and being aware of what’s happening all around us will all contribute to better children’s portrait photography.
Children’s Portrait Photography Tip #3 - Use Continuous Lights
Photo by weekend images via iStock
Going back to that troublesome tall stranger barking orders, using hot photo floods or brightly flashing strobes can also contribute to the children’s portrait photography images being less than what we really wanted to accomplish.
Two better solutions for children's portrait photography are natural lighting and LED continuous photography and video lights. Natural lighting, like sunlight or window light, is a continuous light source that can be adjusted or controlled with our exposure controls and by using reflectors.
LED lights, such as those designed for videography, are fantastic light sources for children’s portrait photography. Not only are they comfortable for everyone since they do not heat up like incandescent photo floods, but they also are very versatile with their adjustable power level and color temperature controls.
Using continuous lighting - natural or LED - eliminates the issue of smaller kids getting nervous over a flash unit's bright pops of light. It also helps us concentrate on capturing those sometimes fleeting perfect expressions during a children’s portrait photography session.
Children’s Portrait Photography Tip #4 - Make Really Good Prints
We could easily string out a much longer list of tips, ideas, and suggestions for mastering children’s portrait photography. Still, we’ll finish this short grouping with a final tip relating to the desired final result of our photography, great images.
Great image files deserve to be made into the highest quality physical prints. Saal Digital is the best source for ultra-high-quality photo prints, photo wall art, and outstanding photo books. Everything we’ve ordered from Saal Digital has been amazing, simply blowing us away with their perfection.
In this video from the Saal Digital YouTube Channel, follow along with the artist as they create a children’s portrait photography book with special cover art:
Virtually anything offered by Saal Digital can enhance your children’s portrait photography. Taking their amazing paper prints as an example, Saal Digital uses only the highest quality materials, printing them with state-of-the-art printers and inks run by superbly trained artisan technicians who love photography.
If you want to print your children’s portrait photography on a high gloss photographic paper, choose Fujifilm Crystal Archive DPII Digital Professional Paper. This silver halide paper offers excellent color reproduction, deep, rich blacks, and pure, bright whites.
Many prints for children’s portrait photography would benefit from Fujifilm Silk Paper. This paper gives natural skin tones and soft details with its honeycomb surface structure. A popular paper and process for wedding photography, portraits of all types look great on this paper.
Hahnemühle FineArt Baryta is a heavy paper made from 100% α-Cellulose. Its glossy finish and extremely high color density make this an ideal paper for printing black and white images, including B&W children’s portrait photography.
For a softer effect, the 100% cotton of Hahnemühle FineArt PhotoRag® paper has a subtle matte finish and holds colors, blacks, and whites with exceptional detail and vibrancy. It's well-suited to printing out images of our children’s portrait photography.
Viewing the image files you capture as high-quality physical prints is an enjoyable final result of all the fine work that goes into mastering children’s portrait photography.