How to Work with Children…Not Against Them

October 15, 2009

in Keli Hoskins, Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials

Written by: Keli Hoskins from Kidnapped by Suburbia

I don’t know how professional children photographers do it – they have a magic touch, for sure. My 2-year old is always on the move, and it’s a miracle if I can get her to sit still for just a second.


This is also the reason that you don’t see me entering a lot of the I Heart Faces contests, because I don’t have very many pictures of Emma’s face. She usually hides when the camera is around, and I have to sneak around and get pictures when she’s not paying attention.

tea party

So here are five tips for working with children … not against them.

1| Work on their schedule – don’t take pictures right before meal times or nap/bed times. If you do, don’t force them to sit and smile. For example, I love shooting in sunset light … it’s my most favorite time to shoot portraits. But she goes to bed between 7:30 and 8pm, and it can get a little touch-and-go. So I just let her do what she wants and try to get some shots on my own.


2| Start shooting at a distance – if you start far away, it’ll give them time to be more comfortable before you stick your camera up their nose.


3| Props – give them something to play with or hold. It tends to loosen them up and also give them something else to focus on rather than you taking their picture.


4| Give them downtime – I took Emma to this beautiful field the other night to try to get some portraits of her, but she was having none of it.


So I let her run around for a while, and wouldn’t you know it, I got one of my favorite images from our little mini-photoshoot.


And then she was happy enough to come back and sit for me.


5| If they do not want to give you a good face, shoot something else! This is my absolute favorite image from the whole shoot, and she was singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and making weird faces while I was shooting her feet.


And most importantly – HAVE FUN!

fishy kisses

Keli Hoskins is a wife, momma, pianist, photographer, web designer and chatterbox. I think I might be addicted to organizing and coffee, which, lucky for me, go hand-in-hand…and I blog at Kidnapped by Suburbia.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Alysa (InspiredRD) October 16, 2011

Great tips! My favorite photos of my kids are definitely not posed. Whenever I try to pose them, it’s disaster 🙂


Kristy March 15, 2011

I love this tut, My 2 and a half year old daughter hides her face when I pull the camera out 😛


Jessica Jackson August 10, 2010

Great tips!


Tammy August 4, 2010

Great pictures and ideas!


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