Getting The Best From Children When Photographing Them

WC Fields famously said, “Never work with animals or children.” The sentiments behind the quote are so true. He went on to say, “they are scene-stealing and totally unpredictable.”

Yes, it is true, kids are completely unpredictable. They can be so adorable and easy going and laughing uncontrollably one minute, and the next minute, turn that charm off completely. They will typically smile for you all day long until you put them in front of a camera, then they freeze up like a deer in headlights. They quite often run off, hide, groan with ‘not another’ or grimace until you finally give up and move on.


Cut the cheese.

Promise me, you will never say ‘CHEESE’ or “SMILE” to them ever again. Not only does it make strange expressions on the face it nearly 100% of the time results in the famous grimace. Practice other phrases or silly noises at home to see which ones evoke the best smiles from children.
Who’s feeling awkward? Are you guilty of shouting directions? “Stand there”, “Put your arm round your sister”, “Stand still”. It’s a one-way street to awkward poses and moans and groans from the children. To get the very best from them, let them know you are going to take a few photographs in advance and that it means a lot to you. Get them involved, ask them where they think a good picture would be. Let them lead a little.

Chitter, Chatter

Always, always have a little chat. This is particularly important for older children as they become more self-conscious in front of the camera. It could be about their favourite PS4 games or what’s made them laugh at school. It guarantees natural smiles (even if it’s just for a split second!).

Failing that recruit a parent or a sibling to stand next to you and challenge them to a funny faces/dancing competition!

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Engage in play

This is probably the most successful tip when photographing children, particularly the younger ones.
Let them play, become involved in an activity and then photograph them. These are often the most natural shots as they don’t really know they are being photographed. Being engaged in play are my favourite captures.

Get on their level

See life through their eyes, from their perspective. Crouching down or laying on the floor always brings a really unique feel to an image.

The great outdoors

Children are naturally more at ease outside. Overcast days are perfect for outside photography, especially for people.  Children of all ages are fast! – This means you need to make sure you have a high shutter speed. Otherwise, you will find your images are blurred. Before you take your shot quickly scan the background for distractions (i.e. trees, cars, other people, lamp posts etc)


The more you take, the easier it will become. Don’t forget the everyday – remember to photograph the everyday too, the little things you do such as baking a cake, a playdate at the local park. Children don’t need to be perfectly dressed or looking at the camera to make a great photograph.

Most importantly be patient, enjoy their inquisitiveness and get down and dirty with the kids!

I hope you found these tips useful, I would love to hear your top tips when working with children.