How-To: Create Great Kids Photos

Craft & Design Photography & Video


By Susannah Bothe
Taking great photographs of your child is something that every parent wants to do, but is not necessarily an easy task! Some of the tips here reiterate what I wrote in my previous how-to on baby photography because these elements hold true for all of photography, so I will include them in this context as well.

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1. Most young children have a very short attention span, so try to be set-up to shoot beforehand. And, we all know that children have moods. When you find that your child is not in a good mood, be patient and put the camera down. Then after a little while, if he/she continues to be out-of-sorts, move on, and wait for another photo opportunity.
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2. Children learn at a young age that their parents are shutterbugs. Don’t instruct them to smile, rather start by approaching the child a ‘documentary’ way–using a long lens, capturing moments when he/she is playing. Then you will be able capture more carefree, unposed moments, and this can happen in a natural way.
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3. Ask for some help from adults or other children to get the smiles, playing with or engaging the child.
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4. Additionally, when you get parents or other adults in the photographs, you’re able to show the relative size of the child.
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5. Give the child something to do– something to hold, something to play with, or something to keep his/her attention. Toys are a great diversion. This could include a ball, a favorite stuffed animal, or even a flower.
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6. Children love to dress up! Accessories such as hats are also fun.
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7. One of the most important aspects of photography is light. Start thinking about light and what time of day will produce the strongest pictures. A general rule would be to avoid photographing midday, unless it is overcast. Try photographing in the shade, where you get nice even light.
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8. Be creative with the light, using ‘dappled’ light.
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9. When you’re photographing indoors, position the child near the window, which is your source of light.
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10. When you’re thinking about composition, consider ‘framing’ the children within an environment.
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11. Get in close. A zoom lens is very helpful for any parent who loves taking pictures of their children. This will allow you to be farther away and let them forget that you’re there.
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12. Pull back — try using a wide-angle lens.
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13. We all know that children move quickly. There area few ways to overcome the blur that these fast-moving children create. Use a fast lens and a higher ISO setting (film speed). Finally, set your camera on ‘continuous” mode (also called ‘drive’ or ‘burst’ mode). This means that the camera takes several pictures per second when you hold the shutter down. There is a lot that can be captured within a fraction of a second!
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14. Focus on the eyes of the child. As in all photography, the eyes of the subject have a good deal of expression in them.
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15. This leads me to my next point — sometimes it is difficult to get the focus just right, so take a lot of pictures. Then you’ll end up with a few that you are happy with.
Finally, a key element to your photographic success is having fun, both you and the child. If you’re enjoying yourself, you will ultimately get better photos!
How-To: Create Beautiful Baby Photos
About the Author:
Author Susannah Bothe
Susannah Bothe is a San Francisco Bay Area documentary photographer specializing in all forms of family portraiture and based in Mill Valley, California. Her past work for National Geographic photographer Ed Kashi, at Wired Magazine, and for the Argentimes newspaper in Buenos Aires have all given her a breadth experience within different niches of photography. Nonetheless, she continues to be drawn back to working with families and connecting with her young subjects. Visit her online at:

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