Photographing a Child – Getting a Great Picture of Your Children

It seems like everyone has a digital camera these days and whether you are photographing a child, a sports event or an anniversary party, many people spend a good deal of time trying to get that perfect shot. Taking pictures of their children is one of the biggest reasons people buy a digital camera in the first place. The hopes that you get a professional image on your own, without having to pay a professional price, is very possible with just a few tips. Keeping the child comfortable, using props, and using even just a few of those buttons on your camera will help you get a great shot.

Comfort in front of the camera

When they see a camera some children start smiling and posing while other children turn shy and refuse to look up. Both of these can be distracting when you are trying to get that special look, but you can help both types of children become comfortable in front of the camera.

The child who likes to be in the spotlight may be so consumed with posing and smiling large fake smiles that you do not get good shots that say who the child is. If you are working with a child who lights up when you pull the camera out then let them ham it up for awhile. Have the child give you their best funny faces or let them give you a modeling show. Let them get this out of their system before you move on to trying to get them to forget about you.

Some children are shy, causing them to pout or be angry. Instead of trying to make the child smile first thing, take some pictures from across the room, without getting in the child’s space. These shots will show real emotion and you may be surprised at how wonderful an image of a sulking child can be.

Another way to help a shy or extroverted child be more at ease with the camera is by letting them take a few pictures themselves. This may be an occasion when having an extra, less expensive point and shoot camera or a throw-away camera may come in handy. Letting them pose you for a few minutes will help them feel more comfortable when you pose them or get close to them for a more focused shot.

Children are sometimes intimidated by adults because of their size. You can get around this by getting on the floor or ground with them. If the child is rolling back and forth on the floor then by all means lay down on the floor with them. You may snap some great photos outside of the child peering at you through some long grass.


Props are excellent for working with and photographing a child. Children love to play with things and by giving them something to focus on you can take the focus off of you and your camera. Props can be just about anything and can be tailored to the age and gender of the child.

Whether the child is yours or not, have them bring their favorite toy or stuffed animal. Not only will this make the child feel more comfortable but as they are playing with their toy you can focus in on them.

You can also bring new props or toys so that the child is interested in the prop because it is something new that they haven’t played with before. For girls you could bring long strips of tulle or a very long ribbon. Have the child run and spin around the yard. Their focus will be on the ribbon and not on you, as you take picture after picture. For boys you could bring a toy truck or a kite.

Both genders would enjoy playing with musical instruments. Children also like to play dress up so you could get out a bunch of hats for them to play with or costumes for them to try on.

Don’t forget that props do not have to be inanimate. Pets and friends can make for some great pictures that show the natural emotions of the child. Let your child run around the yard chasing or playing catch with the dog, or invite over your child’s friends and let them play together. Younger children would play well in a sand box or in the grass while older children would probably enjoy doing some posed shots.

Have the child walk you through their day and you may be surprised at the props that pop up! A child may pretend they are doing their homework or practice skateboarding. Some kids like to cook and having them whip up a little recipe while you take pictures could make a great photo story. Talk to the child and find out what they enjoy doing to give you photo opportunity ideas.

Use those buttons on your camera

Even the most basic of digital cameras can often have intimidating buttons. You can practice with all of them but learning only a couple tips will help you take better pictures.

Use that zoom! Focus in on the child’s face but don’t forget their fingers and toes also. Zooming in on the child makes the photo more intimate and helps show the emotion on the child’s face. Plus, nothing can be cuter than catching the freckles on the nose of a child.

If you are going to be taking pictures with the child filling the viewfinder or screen then use the portrait mode on your camera. The portrait mode is usually symbolized by the silhouette of a head. This mode will help you take better posed, portrait-like photos.

An important button on your digital camera is the one which shows a figure of a person running. This button puts your camera in sports mode. Of course, this is the best mode for when you are photographing a child playing sports but it is not just for sports. Use this for any picture taking that involves running, jumping or any fast movement. Sports mode would also be good when you are taking images of children swimming and splashing in the pool.

Flash is very important to use inside and outside. If you are taking pictures inside then try to set up as much light as you can. Unless you are a professional photographer with professional equipment you will probably not be able to get enough light indoors and will have to use your flash. If you find that too many of your photo are turning out with red eye then try to reduce this by not taking images of the child with the child looking directly into the camera.

You may think you do not need flash outside but it is just as important as having flash inside. Cloudy, overcast days are the best days in which to take pictures outside because you do not have to worry so much about stark shadows or the subject squinting because of the bright sunlight. If you are taking photos outside on a bright sunny day then make sure you use your flash. Bright days can cause unflattering shadows to fall across the child’s face, such as making them look like they have dark circles under their eyes that can be evened out by using the flash on your camera. The flash will help it appear that a more natural light is falling on the child’s face. If shadows are still too dark then have the child hold a large piece of aluminum foil in their lap so that the sunlight shines on the foil and reflects back on their face, filling in the dark shadows.

Try out some of these tips when you are next photographing a child and you may find that you have a wonderful professional photo to hang on your wall.

Article Supplied By:
M. Kaye Hash is the owner and webmaster at The Frugal Home. She is also a contributing editor and co-webmaster at Melissa has a degree in Art History from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has been writing and taking pictures since she was young. Melissa is also an avid animal lover and she raises four dogs of her own.



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