photo by wundervisuals via iStock
When I first started learning how to take photos of my kids, I wasn’t very good. They’re pretty much the worst models in almost all cases, and for someone who had started their photography career before they came along, it was a real learning curve.
When I started looking for easy portrait photography tips, they all assumed your model was a willing participant, which oftentimes wasn’t the case with my toddler.
And here I was, never expecting it would only get worse as my kids grew and started complaining as soon as I whipped out my camera.
Along the way, I’ve picked up a few tips for better portraits of children. Some of them may surprise you.
Set a Timer
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As with all things children, they participate much better if you have a give and take relationship with them. As children grow, they need more freedom, more unscheduled play, and more time with you. But most importantly they need to know you are truthful.
I found myself promising the kids I was going to put the camera down in five minutes, or after just a few more shots. I sounded just like them when they’re begging to keep swimming for “just ten more minutes,” which inevitably turns into a half hour.
Basically, I felt like a sham, and my kids were getting sick of it.
So, I actually bought one of those old timers from a thrift store and will set it for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. When the timer is going, the kids need to behave and allow me to take photos of them. They’ll even pose. Then, when the timer goes off, I put the camera away for the day.
photo by Nikhil Patil via iStock
Out of all of these easy portrait photography tips, this tip has not only led to better photos of my children, but it has improved our relationship. Additionally, it’s improved my relationship with technology because I now know when to put the camera down and just enjoy my kiddos.
Let Them Choose the Location
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Think about it. Are your kids going to behave better in church or in their favorite place in the world, like the zoo or aquarium?
When you’re scouting for locations, involve your children. Ask them where they would like to spend the day. Make a trade. You can go to the beach, if I can take photos of you while we are there.
All of the tips for better portraits I’ve found online sort of assume you, as the photographer, need help and not the other way around.
There is no better attitude adjustment than taking your child to a place they feel truly joyful.
photo by patrickheagney via iStock
By following these easy portrait photography tips, to let your children help scout locations with you and to really listen to their decision making, you will capture all of the best characteristics of your kid.
Your audience will be able to see the exact reasons you fall in love with them everyday.
Props Are Your Best Friend
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Who doesn’t love sparklers, or bubbles, or confetti? Heck, we love these props so much even adults use them at celebrations like weddings and baby showers.
When you buy cheap props your kids love they’re not going to be focused on the camera, they’re going to be focused on their toys.
For photographers with camera shy children, or for photographers with children who really like to show off for the camera, props are a way to encapsulate your child’s true personality.
photo by PeopleImages via iStock
As my children grew, I would take them into a dollar store and let each of them choose a certain amount of toys as I picked out a few especially photogenic props (bubbles, paint, balls).
We’d then take all of our newly purchased toys and head to the park to unwrap them and play.
Props not only ensure your camera isn’t the center of attention for the day, but they’re a great way to learn how to take better photos of your kids because props provide you more time to play around with your settings, uninhibited.
Don’t Make Them Wear Uncomfortable Clothes
photo by BorupFoto via iStock
How much did you hate dressing up for family portraits when you were a kid? Some things never change.
Part of the freedoms kids gain as they grow older is the opportunity to pick their own wardrobe, so why are we taking away this creativity in portraits?
photo by olesiabilkei via iStock
Looking back on my children’s portraits, I especially love the ones where they’re wearing brightly mismatched socks or their pants are on backwards.
This exploratory part of childhood is something we forget about as adults, and it’s something our easy portrait photography tips should celebrate.
No childhood is perfect, and sloppy, messy clothing captures what it is to have children.
Tell Them Stories
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Many of my friends enjoy doing themed photoshoots with their kids, like vintage shoots. The problem is that the kids have difficulty understanding the “point” of the shoot.
They get around this by giving their kids history lessons surrounding the era they are aiming for in their photoshoots.
They’ll give them historical data about the 1920s, or make them the stars of their own story. They turn photoshoots into make believe.
photo by alexandr_1958 via iStock
All people love stories, and we especially love to be the protagonist of stories. Be creative in giving your kids background information for your shoots and I promise they will repay you.
Show Them a Beautiful Print
photo by rbv via iStock
The only thing kids love more than pretending is seeing pictures of themselves. I went down to Mexico for some volunteer work a few years ago and I brought my camera with me. Every single child on the street asked me to stop, take their photo, and immediately show it to them.
I’d bet anything your kid loves photos of themselves as well. I always take the best photos I get of my kids and create canvases for them. I’ll give it to them on their birthdays to celebrate the past year of growth.
We will then plan where to hang it in the house together.
You can get incredible canvas prints of your kids at CanvasHQ.
Firstly, CanvasHQ almost always has a promo code running so your prints won’t be as expensive as they would be if you went to your local print shop.
Secondly, CanvasHQ canvas is so much better than mass-produced canvases from say a Walmart or Costco. Each one of their workers cares about your finished product just as much as you do. They’ve caught errors in my photography before that I didn’t. They also hand-build every canvas frame, and hand stretch each photo print onto their frames.
What better way to celebrate your kids than with a beautiful print that’s made with care and attention to detail?!
After a great shoot with your kids, there’s nothing quite like having a gorgeous canvas to show off everyone’s hard work. Capture those memories and make them long-lasting with a print that will last generations.