I feel so privileged to be here on Or So She Says! So many wonderful resources, all in one place. My name is Cami, and I blog over at TIDBITS, where I love to share all sorts of DIY ideas and tutorials. I would love to have you stop by and see if there are any ideas that would benefit you!
I often get asked how I get my kids to pose for pictures, especially when they are often for my blog. Children don’t generally love being asked to sit still and smile, or stand just a certain way while we snap picture after picture in their face. They would much rather be off playing, I assure you. The thing is, for general life capturing moments – it really is best to take pictures that represent the moment as best as we can. However, being a blogger, I am often after a certain shot and trying to showcase an item as best as I can on a wiggly, impatient child. Photographing kids like this can bring many challenges for the mommy behind the camera.
I have been blogging for a few years now, and have learned some very vital “Do’s and Don’ts” to getting the most out of your blogging photo session when your child or children are involved. As much as I hate to admit it – the majority has been learned through trial and error. I do hope that my suggestions will help you in your efforts to capture the images needed for your blog or other planned photo shoots with kids. And please feel free to share your own tips and tricks in the comment section below.
The 5 Do’s of Photographing Kids
1. Do Prepare
This one is HUGE!! If I ever try to wing a photo shoot – it is a FLOP! Prepare your setting. Don’t expect your child to sit there and patiently wait while you get the background and props just right. They will be sooo done before you even get your camera out. Be prepared for the light. Know where and when the natural light is the best in your house and set aside the time for that day. If going outside, try to work with the “golden hour”, or be sure you have just the right light for your creative endeavors. And probably most importantly, prepare your child. Let them know long before what you have planned and find out their willingness. Take care of their needs before hand – have you ever tried to take pictures of a hungry or tired child?
When taking pictures of our little girls’ shared bedroom, I made sure it was clean before the kids even stepped in it, and beautiful noon day light was shining through.
2. Do try at least 2 different settings/situations for the same shoot.
I don’t mean you have to venture somewhere different. Just try a different spot in the room, or try having them sitting or standing. I am always amazed at how just a simple switch in their position can change the whole feel of a photo. I like to have plenty of options to work with when I am editing my photos, just in case the place I imagined would be perfect didn’t turn out how I wanted. Try your most ideal spot first, then if your child seems willing still, switch things around.
For this fishing toy post, I started her at the couch, because I knew I wanted a shot there.
Then I moved her onto the floor and ended up loving these shots as well.
3. Do break up your photo shoot.
I’m sure you’ve noticed those pictures where you can tell someone has been putting on their smile for way too long – and now it is completely fake. Giving your clients a break from smiling is essential, and this is so important to remember that children will need a break too. My plan of action is usually to take some of the images I have in my head that I know I will need to showcase the item I am working on for my blog. This would be my first setting, like mentioned in #2. Then, I will tell my kid(s) to just have fun, and play around and pose to their heart’s desire. I actually don’t stop taking pictures, but they know they can do whatever they want for the picture. Surprisingly, these are often the ones I love the most. Then, when I feel they are ready to go again, I situate them in my second setting and snap away. I continue until I know they have had enough (which you will come to figure out quickly).
She was tolerant enough holding her pumpkin stamp artwork for the pictures, but began having fun when she could play pirates with the stamp.
4. Do group shots first, then move on to singles from oldest to youngest.
Of course, you know your kids best – but this method seems to be the most productive. If I am grouping my kids together, I work this in very first while they are more willing to cooperate. Then I excuse everyone to play (or watch or whatever) and take the oldest child for her single shots. The older ones seem to have more of a vision of what you are doing, and they will tolerate sitting there the longest (in most cases). It’s also great if they are more cooperative and they show a good example for the younger ones. My oldest loves to make her own special “red carpet” poses in front of the camera, so the little sisters feed off of her enthusiasm.
Getting these pictures of all the kids in their tulle skirts with elastic waistbands was a chore. But I was able to capture them as I wished by using the method above.
5. Do show them your finished work.
I always read my posts or show the final pictures to each daughter that was involved in the making of the post. Even better is when they get to see they are on pinterest! I think letting them always know what you are trying to accomplish is very helpful, as they seem to want to help you succeed the next time. My 6 year old has become very observant in my style and asked the last time I was shooting, “Are you taking my face in this one, or just the apron?” That made me smile 🙂 I might add, I try to reward them for being such good helpers with a special treat or TV time or something I know they will love. This is most productive if you are planning to continue using them for your blog photos regularly.
Now that you know what to do, let’s talk about the things to avoid.
The 5 Don’ts of Photographing Kids
1. Don’t even begin to take pictures if you are in a rush or stressed.
I keep trying to do this myself (because sometimes you just need it done), but it rarely works. I’ve learned that creativity doesn’t like to be rushed for one, and also – what child wants to be cooperative while you are pounding down commands faster then they can register. They can truly sense a stressed mother, and my children completely bottle up inside when I am like that. If you are not having fun, neither will they and it shows in your images.
One of my favorite shoots to date were these pictures of my 6 year old in her Red Riding Hood costume. I was having soo much fun with that red cape, therefore she was thoroughly enjoying it as well.
2. Don’t take too long.
What is too long? Well, that depends entirely on the child. My 4 year old will last . . . hmmm . . . maybe 5 minutes if I am lucky. However, my 8 year old could probably go for 20-30 minutes if I kept things exciting. But even though she will seem willing, I have to remind myself that I want them to continue to think these blog photo shoots are enjoyable. If I took 20 minutes every time, they could come to dread them as they would see it as interrupting too much of their day. I would recommend an average of 10 minutes, and work as fast as you can while still keeping the “#1 don’t” in mind.
The girls were more interested in playing Elsa, than doing what I wanted for my pictures. I had to act quick to get their Elsa Cape in motion!
3. Don’t force them into taking “a few quick pictures” if they are unhappy or uncomfortable.
We need to respect their feelings, just as we would ours. Kids are not always going to be in the mood for pictures and posing. If you force it now, you will regret it later – when they moan every time you want pics. Can you imagine someone asking you to put on a happy face if you just had the worst day ever? Keep their comfort top priority every time. I dolled up my 8 year old to capture some pictures in her baptism dress I made. I was so excited, and had recruited a photog friend to join us, and I had props . . . and it was freezing. I forced those few pictures, until I realized there was no chance of making her smile or even look remotely pleasant. I called it off, and we drove home in silence. I thought I was never going to get decent pictures of her in this dress because I felt like I had ruined the fun. And then, one beautiful Fall day warmed up, and I threw on the dress super quick. She ran a brush through her hair and we called it good. We drove to a canyon close to home and had the best time in the world together making pictures. She was happy, and danced, and smiled, and posed . . . and wanted to keep going even when I was so done! Her comfort level made all the difference. And I rewarded her with a picnic in the woods. These pictures make me happy beyond words – because of the memories of the moment.
See more of our photo shoot together, here.
4. Don’t say “cheese”.
There are so many other ways to get them to look happy. Know your child and discover what things make them giggle – even if it has to do with strange bodily functions 😉 There is nothing like capturing that genuine laugh to make a picture stand out.
I must have said something really funny to get that sweet smile out of her, while looking at her mini card collectors book.
5. Don’t give them every command.
I will at times say “look at me and smile”, but I keep those shots very few. I think it is best to let them be themselves and be in the moment. Children are so entertaining when they have the freedom to be who they want to be. The pictures I see on pinterest that really catch my eye, are the ones that feel real. It is wonderful when you can find a way to showcase the project or story, all while capturing a moment that people can relate to. Set up your scene, and then sit back and watch what your child will do when they feel they control the images. You might discover they have a better vision for your product than you realize.
She knew just what I needed when she told me she would pretend to decorate our Valentines tree, while I took the picture. She nailed it!
Now, I know I still have a lot to learn, but these concepts seem to work for me. Please feel free to share with all of us if you have any other tricks up your sleeves!
And for all the parents out there, you have to read this article I wrote about controlling toy clutter and mess. It has saved my sanity! Extra bonus, I have more time to blog and create 🙂
Mariel @ Or so she says... says
I love your photography!! I’m anxious to corner you and get all your secrets. 🙂
Courtney @ I Watch Them Grow says
These points are spot on Cami, for any parent doing a little photo session of their kids! Thanks for this, I will be referring to it again I’m sure! Now on to checking out your blog 🙂