Portrait Photography: Getting Young Children to Cooperate

getting young children photos

Photo shoots involving children can be a challenge, whether the little ones are extremely active, camera-shy, or have a very short attention span. Thankfully, there are many ways to help make your portrait photography session a success. Keep scrolling to learn more:

Choose the Right Timing

A word to the wise: please, never book a photo session in the middle of your child’s usual naptime! After all, tired and hungry individuals tend to be grumpy and uncooperative, making it difficult to get the type of shots you want. Although some of the best outdoor lighting can be found in the morning, for example, it is essential to make sure your session does not conflict with naps and meals. Similarly, the light of late afternoons and early evenings is stunning, but such late hours may conflict with your child’s usual bedtime. A late night combined with the excitement of a trip may prove to be overwhelming. For best results, make sure everyone is fed and well-rested, and bring along a few snacks as well, but only bring them out as a last resort.

Pick a Fun Location

Children are much more likely to smile in photographs if they are happy and comfortable in their surroundings. Pick a location where your kids can play. The right location will help kids from getting bored and allow your photographer to capture a variety of natural, playful shots. Personally, I love being able to allow a family to relax and play with each other in the right setting and lighting, maybe amongst the trees?

Bring Shy Kids Out of Their Shell

If possible, arrive at the session a bit early. Doing so will give your children a chance to investigate their surroundings and interact with the photographer. Speaking with the photographer ahead of time, in particular, may help them warm up in front of the camera. Once the shoot has begun, let the photographer take the lead. Avoid over-coaxing or admonishing your kids, as neither method will result in great shots. In fact, trying to control the situation may lead to tantrums or emotional shutdowns. In these cases, I prefer you just chat normally as if you were at home. Don’t tell your kids to smile. That only results in fake grins. If you are cheeky and playful and make it fun, your kids will smile real genuine smiles that show off their true personalities.

To help your child feel more comfortable quickly, you could do something like ask funny questions. The resulting facial expressions and reactions are often priceless! You could also consider including your family dog in the shoot, or making sure that mum or dad is close by and in several shots with your shy little one.

Use a Bit of Bribery

Sessions should be fun, but your little one may need a bit of encouragement along the way. We will make the most of the time they pay attention on set, but you could also try to extend that time with the help of a few small bribes. For example, consider packing a few treats or a “treasure box” with inexpensive goodies as an incentive for your children to cooperate. Ahead of time, you could let them pick out a special outfit or some props that they get to carry and be responsible for during the session. A bit of external motivation often goes a long way in improving behaviour and staying focused.

Portrait Photography: What Not to Do

Although you will want your child to feel comfortable during the photo shoot, try to avoid talking about it for days on end. Discussing every detail can actually increase stress, as children tend to get worked up with anticipation before a big event. Instead, mention the session a couple of times and then give them more details the day of the shoot. On that day, be clear that the session is about having fun and that there is nothing to be nervous about.

During the session, avoid the ever-present impulse to tell your child to smile. Although this advice may seem counter-intuitive, telling a child to smile often results a forced, cheesy grin. Natural smiles come from being comfortable and having a good time, which is the goal of your session.

Need More Advice?

If you are still concerned about how your child might behave during a portrait photography session, reach out and contact me. Whether your family includes multiple, active little ones, or a child with special needs, I will work with you on an individual basis to capture beautiful images. Book a session today or contact me for more information.

Talk soon,
Margherita :)

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