My top tips for a great photoshoot with young children

How does a photographer manage to take great pictures of very young children without a scowl and a tear in sight?

Children are great to take pictures of, however they rarely pose as you might wish them to and get bored very, very quickly! So how does a photographer manage to take great pictures of very young children without a scowl and a tear in sight?

I have put together my top tips for success, of course there are many factors that make a great photoshoot, these are just a few tips that I have found are good to consider when planning a photoshoot with children.

Children, especially very young children, get bored with the idea of someone taking their picture very, very quickly.

Apart from a little aspiring model who is enjoying showing you their poses, or how they can be the next Disney Princess, more often than not young children have far more important things to do like running, playing and having fun rather that standing there for you and your camera. Therefore, I believe, the best pictures taken of children are often the candid, natural images; children playing, laughing, pulling faces, concentrating on what they are doing at that moment.

Of course, everyone likes a happy family shot so it’s a good idea to get the more posed shots in early, and make them fun.

Pose children only as much as you need to and most importantly only as much as they will happily let you.

My Top Tips

  • Capture the child as they are, the more natural their expressions the better.
  • Speak to the child in their language, play, laugh and help them to relax with you. Use toys, things around you to distract them and add some fun: falling leaves are perfect.
  • Pose them only as much as you absolutely have to and only as much as they will allow you to.
  • Get down to their eye level, be prepared to get muddy, lying on the floor, kneeling in a puddle. As well as getting great shots at the right level it always amuses children to see a grownup getting messy! Some of the best photoshoots I have done have resulted in me being covered in mud And dirt!
me almost falling in the stream 🙂
  • Don’t tire them, in my experience very young children will only really tolerate about 30 mins with you pointing the camera at them; they then become bored, fractious and you really do not get the best shots. The older the child, generally the longer they are happy to have their pictures taken.
  • Don’t waste time sorting equipment, settings, lighting etc. When you photograph children be ready to go from the first second with them. Use natural light where at all possible.
  • Children move fast- use as high a shutter speed as you can, that way you can capture movement, a swirling dress, a mid-run shot etc
  • And lastly probably most importantly gain permission from the parents. Not just permission to do the photoshoot but to share the photos on your own websites and social media. Are the parents happy for you to share? Do they mind the child or family being named? As a generally rule if parents are happy for me to use their images on my sites, I will not name the child or the location of the shoot.
  • I hope these tips have been of some help to you. Most importantly enjoy the time photographing children, it really is so rewarding.