6 tips for photographing KIDS!

Photographing young children can be very difficult and frustrating! I have spoken with so many Moms who have given up on getting a nice picture of their child. All they want is for them to sit still and look at the camera so they can get a picture of them in their new outfit, with their birthday cake, on the first day school, etc. Sometimes kids just aren't old enough to understand what they are supposed to do when you ask them to pose for a picture. Over the years I have learned a thing or two about photographing kids, hopefully these pointers will help you get a beautiful picture of your little one!

 1. Turn up your shutter speed.  Most kids are squirmy and on the move! Getting them to sit still is a tough job. If you can increase your shutter speed your chances of getting a picture where they don't have blurry hands and feet are better. In normal photo shoots I will never go lower than 1/60, when I'm photographing kids I would recommend at the very least 1/100! The higher you can go the better!
 2. Limit distractions. If you are out at the park or the mall, the chances of getting a kids attention are slim! You want to be the most interesting thing for them to look at otherwise their gaze will wander. When you want to take a good photo I would recommend turning off the TV, turning down music, and remove toys that might be sitting within arms reach.
 3. Take lots of pictures.  Even if all the stars have aligned for the perfect photo, rarely will you get it on the first try. I always take tons of pictures of little ones. You can always go through and delete the pictures where they aren't looking, but you do not want to miss the split second they decide to cooperate and give you a million dollar shot! In both of the photos above, I probably took 40 or more pictures to get the shots I wanted!

 4. Get their attention.  This is one of the most difficult aspects of getting a child to cooperate because every child is different. My go-to tactics are noises and toys. If you use a noise, make sure you don't scare them! I would recommend laughing because it gets their attention and makes them smile! Make other funny noises and see what they respond to. If you use a toy, set it right on top of your camera where you want their gaze to go. Hold it on there for a few seconds, then point to your camera and hide the toy. Usually they will look at your lens for a few moments, which was the case with the above photos. Try to not use their most favorite toy because sometimes they get frustrated they can't play with it. Something new and interesting works best with the toy method. And no matter what method you use, you will probably have to dance around and wave your arms to maintain their attention. It's a wonderfully embarrassing skill I have developed! :)

5.  Remove irritants. Often times a child might not want to take a picture for different reasons. They might be hungry, tired, cold, or uncomfortable. This is hard to fully utilize when you are trying to get a picture in the moment (i.e. first day of school picture, christmas morning picture, meeting new brother or sister) because the moment passes in the blink of an eye! Keep in mind it might be a simple fix. Putting a jacket on them can change their mood. Maybe they are self conscious and don't want a bunch of people watching them when they smile for a picture, so you can go somewhere more private or have people look away to get the right shot. Feeding a baby right before a photo makes a world of difference! If you know a "kodak moment" is coming up, make sure your child has everything they need to be happy and then you can be ready with the camera.

6. Positive reinforcement. When you get a good picture, make sure to reward them for smiling and sitting still (or doing whatever you wanted them to do)! How you go about this depends on the child's age. When I am at a shoot, no matter what their age is, I always make sure to say "thank you for being such a good girl/boy". If you are their parent, you probably know how to best communicate the message. Not only does this help the child understand they did something good, but they will also be more likely to cooperate next time you want to take a picture!

Hopefully these tips will help you take better pictures of your little one! Remember that practice makes perfect. Keep snapping!

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