Best Kids Photos: 9 Child Photography Tips

child photography tips and tricks

There’s nothing quite like a great photo of a happy child, but getting that amazing shot can be a lot tougher than you think. For every perfect shot there are dozens that are out of focus or where your child simply won’t smile, and that’s before we even get to talking about unexpected runny noses! 

Thankfully though, there are a few things you can do to up your photography game and capture those wonderful moments. And believe it or not, there’s not a single candy bribe involved.

Let them be themselves

best toddler photography ideas

Often we find ourselves imagining the ideal shot complete with a picture-perfect smile and just the right pose. Photos that look more like kids headshots than anything else. But anyone who has kids knows that asking a child who isn’t happy to smile just doesn’t work. 

This is because children, unless they’re child actors or models, don’t fake their emotions in any way whatsoever. If they’re happy, they’ll smile, if they’re not, they won’t—simple as that. 

For this reason, it’s better to let a child be themselves and take candid shots. This means letting them act naturally and allowing them to forget that you’re photographing them. This is often how the best kids photos are taken, and that leads us to our next point.

Forget the regular photography poses

While it’s better to take candid shots, if you’re looking for a specific pose or shot, you may need to guide them in their actions. This is fine, but instead of telling a child how to stand, encourage them to do something that may result in a similar pose.

Even if the shot doesn’t come out quite right, keep moving along and come back to it later. You don’t want the child to feel like they’re doing something wrong if you keep pushing them in one direction.

children's photoshoot ideas

Know how to set your shutter speed

If you know kids, then you know that they never stay still. This means that photographing children is a lot more difficult than adults. But, this makes for some amazing shots if you know how to set your shutter speed correctly. Set the wrong speed and you end up with blurred images that are useless, too fast and your shots will look grainy. 

If you’re shooting in Aperture Priority mode, your camera will automatically set your shutter speed for you. That said, it might be a good idea to set it a little higher by adjusting your ISO. This makes the camera more sensitive to light which results in a higher shutter speed. 

Here’s a good guideline for shutter speeds: 

Acting naturally — 1/200 minimum 

Running — 1/500 minimum 

Jumping — 1/1000 or even as high as 1/1600

You might also want to use the burst or continuous mode when taking action shots. This allows you to take a series of photos and gives you a better chance of capturing that perfect shot. 

best kids photos

Use natural light rhythm

Natural light is so very good for capturing, yes you guessed it, natural photos. While a photo studio can be a fun environment, natural light outdoors or even in the home can help you capture some amazing shots. If you’re going to try to get the most out of natural light outdoors, then arrange your shoot either early in the morning before the sun gets too high or later in the evening just before sunset. Sunset is a wonderful time for soft natural light but it’s also bedtime so not the best idea. Early morning is a good time as the light is good and your subject will be full of energy after their breakfast. If you can’t manage that and need to shoot in the middle of the day, then look for somewhere that is slightly shaded like under a tree with some sunlight coming in through the foliage. If you prefer to shoot indoors, then all you need is a big window! Just remember that natural light can be unpredictable so be prepared to move around a lot or wait for clouds to clear.

Speak to them on their level

The one thing you don’t want to do is talk down to a child that you’re photographing. You want them to feel like they’re part of the team and that you’re both working towards the same goal. If this means asking them what they think about certain shots or what they would like to do, then so be it. 

A good trick is to physically get down to their level and speak to them as a friend and not as someone who is telling them what to do and what you want. Doing this also makes you a little less intimidating which is always a good thing around kids particularly if you’re not their parent or a family member. 

Props are great

The thing about props is that you need to know when to use them and when they are overkill. When photographing kids, they can be a huge help not just for their aesthetics but also because they give a child something to do. 

This type of distraction, if handled well, can allow you to get those candid shots of a kid in action. Use the right one and you might even manage to get a laugh, and nothing beats a photo of a laughing child. 

Don’t tire them out

If there’s one that is certain in life it’s that kids get tired at the drop of a hat. With this in mind, you’ll want to keep your session light and try not to be too demanding or ask for too much physical activity from your little subject. 

As soon as you spot the signs of tiredness, take a break and do something different or just let them sit down and relax for a while. You’d be surprised what a short break will do to restore a child’s batteries. But it’s a fine balancing act—tire them out too much and there’s no way they’ll be able to get back into it. 

Have fun

This goes for both you and your subject. Kids love to have fun and they react well to grown ups who also like to enjoy themselves. In fact, you’d be surprised at just how many professional photographers really let the inner child run riot when photographing children. 

Encourage a little bit of silliness now and then as this will help a child relax and feel more at ease. And when they’re relaxed, that’s when you’ll see a child acting naturally. On top of that you’ll also find that the session will go much more smoothly and everyone will be a lot happier too. 

Practice, practice, practice

Whether you’re an aspiring photographer or a parent who just wants to take amazing photos of their child, you need to keep practicing your craft. And by that we don’t just mean taking photos but taking photos of children. So offer to take some photos of your family members’ kids or see if any of your friends would like a free photo session in the park. 

Whatever you do, keep practicing. 

One last thing we will say is that you must always be respectful of others, especially children. If they don’t want you to take their photo, respect their wishes and stop. Just like adults, sometimes children just want a little privacy and that’s okay. 

If you’re a kids photographer looking for a photo studio in Melbourne with plenty of natural light, then we’ve got just the place for you. Our studio rates are extremely competitive and we even have some equipment that is available for hire. If you’re interested just get in touch and we’ll talk you through our packages. 

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WANT TO BE A CHILD
ACTOR OR MODEL?

At Bubblegum, we represent some of Australia’s brightest young stars, but even so, we’re always on the lookout for fresh new faces and talent.

If your child is aged anywhere from 3 months to 18 years of age, and you think they might have what it takes to shine in front of a camera or on stage, then we want to hear from you.

We’ll set up a quick informal chat where we’ll get a feel for your child’s suitability for working in the industry.

The lucky kids that make it onto our books benefit from in-house workshops and coaching sessions to help them brush up on their skills. They’ll also get great advice and tips from the Bubblegum team, some of whom have worked as child models and actors themselves! We’ll even arrange a portfolio shoot with our in-house photographer.

We want all the kids on our books to have their chance to shine and if that means working twice as hard to make it happen, then that’s what we’ll do!