A Beginner’s Guide to Photographing Children

March 16, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | 45 Comments | |
A Beginner’s Guide to Photographing Children Image

FTC Disclaimer: this article has been sponsored by Craftsy

Craftsy offers a free Professional Family Portraits class that teaches you how to take professional family portraits

1. Shooting at Home

Taking pictures at home, rather than in a professional studio, has become popular in recent years. Your home is a much more natural environment for children, as it instantly puts them at ease.

Start by moving the couch out of the living room to create an area big enough for the shoot.

If possible setup a grey seamless paper roll on a stand to create a neutral background, or failing that use an uncluttered wall for more environmental portraits.

Window lighting provides beautiful natural, directional light that you can utilise during the shoot.

White ceiling and walls are perfect for bounce flash - if they're a different colour, use a white sheet.

Most importantly, make people feel comfortable at home. Don't make too many changes to their natural environment.

A Beginner's Guide to Photographing Children

2. Kids are Impatient

Make sure that you perfect the setup first before bringing in the kids - they'll quickly lose patience with you if you're not ready.

Use faster, longer lenses to defocus the background - a fast 85mm lens is great for portraits, but the long end of the standard zoom that came with your interchangeable lens camera is also good.

Position your subjects at least 6 feet in front of the background, in order to defocus background and to drop shadows behind them.

3. Using Flash

Use a flashgun to help freeze children's movements.

Bounce the flash off the ceiling to increase the lighting sweet spot - setting the shutter speed to 1/25th sec and the aperture to f/4 is a good starting point.

Invest in a flashgun that can be tilted towards both walls and ceilings.

A Beginner's Guide to Photographing Children

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portrait, flash, technique, portraits, portraiture, techniques, tips, child, children, kids, daughter, bounce, kid, son

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Your Comments

45 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Saravana Kumar

Good bit of advice.. thanks.

4:40 pm - Sunday, March 16, 2014

#2 Mike Hilmer

Great guide. Someting I have also learned is to keep it simple. When it comes to children, you just have to let their natural innocence shine through in your photos. Take their photos while they are playing at the jungle gym. Photograph them while they are at home relaxing with their families. Focus on the candid smiles and the exuberant laughter.

8:54 pm - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#3 FreeDPT | Photography Tips

Definitely a good read. I agree with Mike, its best to let children play in their natural surroundings to get some nice candid shots. Having them sit still for a staged portrait usually only works in theory, but not in practice (at least not for long LOL!)

Its usually best to take the documentary photographer approach.

10:50 pm - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#4 picbackman

Having them sit still for that perfect shot is the biggest challenge. To keep them busy and sit still, give them something to do.

12:44 pm - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

#5 Olovo

Definitely a good read. I agree with Mike, its best to let children play in their natural surroundings to get some nice candid shots. Having them sit still for a staged portrait

11:10 am - Friday, March 28, 2014

#6 friv

I always was interested in this topic. Guide to valuable personal you mean so much to me. Thanks

8:48 am - Monday, May 19, 2014

#7 Tracy Myn

I have a 2 year old and the advice in this post is excellent. Thanks

8:30 am - Tuesday, June 17, 2014

#8 Paul S. Reaves

Read such a wise and graceful post. Thanks for sharing this. Great job!!

10:49 am - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

#9 Duwi Mertiana

Remember to make the angle as low as the kids :)
I mean, the angle should be the same level with the kid.

1:14 am - Saturday, August 30, 2014

#10 Manny Jimenez

Hadn’t thought about using a seamless behind furniture. That’s genius!

4:46 pm - Monday, October 20, 2014

#11 Wedding photographer

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11:26 am - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#12 Rogy Silvido

Indeed its a hard time to shoot with kids, for the fact that they are moody and so playful. Though there are times that they participate, the most common alternative way to look your photographs more gorgeous is to edit it manually using photoshop, or adding some corrections. If you are new with photo editing check this for your reference http://www.photoeditingcompany.com/photo-editing-tips-for-beginners/ .

9:13 am - Monday, October 27, 2014

#13 Maria

Great and useful guide! I am very interested in kids and baby photography. Check this: http://goodtimephotography.us/i-found-those-eyes-at-blue-line/ and tell me your opinion guys!

1:46 pm - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#14 Randhir

Check out KCC Photography, he’s one of my favourite child photographers.

6:57 pm - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#15 Andybaby

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1:48 am - Thursday, February 12, 2015

#16 BlackBox

Just one good advice missing. At almost any cost avoid studio photos of children. They ALL look unnatural and antiseptic. Grab a camera with fast AF, a good lens and photograph children in their “natural habitat” - playing, doing sports, riding bikes, climbing trees, watching their favorite movies/cartoons. The whole charm of photographing children is capturing their emotions. You can’t do that in a studio.

5:59 am - Friday, March 13, 2015

#17 taposy rabeya

I love kids most. Your kids photos attract me much.Really Awesome! Good job.Carry on it. Thanks.

6:43 am - Saturday, May 16, 2015

#18 Bipin Dattani Photography

Mark, i agree with you on using fast 85mm lens. However to get the awesome pro like portraits, I would shoot at wide open f1.4 or f1.8 not at f4. 
New comers to the 85mm lens can practice to the see how DOF works shooting wide open.

12:07 pm - Monday, May 18, 2015

#19 Bethany Thomson

Thanks for the guide! I’ll use your tips next time I take a picture of my daughter.

11:52 am - Monday, May 25, 2015

#20 Robert Eilers

I find in home photography to be the perfect environment for children. As adults we forget that the world around us can be a big scary place so we take it for granted. In recent years lifestyle portraits have certainly been on the rise. As the emotions you can capture from these shots is so much more real. I try to avoid my flash as much as possible as i try to be invisible with these types of shoots.

3:17 pm - Monday, May 25, 2015

#21 richard

1/25 shutter speed? You must have compliant children as all that would produce for me is blur. I need a much faster speed so indoors I need to crank up the ISO as children di not look at the camera for more than a millisecond.

7:08 am - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

#22 Aaron Joseph

here i found manual for how to print photos online..


10:32 am - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

#23 Emil

Thanks for letting us know about this wonderful beginning guide and this would be much effective for everyone to understand that how to take photographs for children. Thanks

6:12 am - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#24 Mehedi Hasan

Excellent tips for taking photographs. Thanks

7:15 am - Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#25 Yabesh Photography

adopts the height of your little old subjects
To achieve great photos of children, please squatting or kneeling, and tries to put the camera down to the same height as the child or animal you want to photograph and transmit any more realism.

11:01 pm - Friday, July 31, 2015

#26 Mahipal Nehra


Nice tips !! I would like to suggest that if you are the beginner than you have to use this app that will really help you to get amazing work experience.



9:10 am - Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#27 yabeshphotography

nice article keep writting

11:39 am - Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#28 wilson halder

Those who are very interest for photography, It is very helpful for them.

4:30 am - Tuesday, October 6, 2015

#29 Clipping Path

What a good advice it is! Thank you the guys for sharing this informative article.
For photo editing service click here_ http://www.independentclippingpath.com/

2:26 pm - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#30 Clipping Path Service

Really nice and helpful post for beginners how to better little angle photography .. thanks

5:06 pm - Sunday, November 8, 2015

#31 Jomy Johnson

Photographing kids are always require more patience and quick actions, then we may get really good shots. The tips you have said are very helpful to get prepared for taking great photos. These are some examples of beautiful photos of kids http://www.photostockworld.com/photoList-searchKeyword-kids.html

7:12 pm - Wednesday, December 9, 2015

#32 Peter Bellany

I have been photographing babies in my studio in Cambridge for more than 10 years now….and still learning. Good luck guys.

11:27 pm - Friday, January 1, 2016

#33 Kylie Garner

I love shooting kids and your tips come in handy. Thanks!

4:25 am - Monday, January 4, 2016

#34 Clipping Care Clipping Path Service

Will probably be back once again fairly often to take a look up on fresh articles. ! Carries a fantastic perspective of your brain.After looking at this article, I seriously thank you for hard work and my personal request will be to please reveal us a lot more post later on. Keep writing

6:34 am - Monday, January 4, 2016

#35 suresh

super article nice information thanks

3:25 pm - Monday, March 14, 2016

#36 Mablean

Great post, I did not know about defocusing the background. I agree that photographing children requires so much patience since kids are impatient.

3:12 pm - Friday, March 18, 2016

#37 Sumon Chowdhury

Excellent post. thanks for share this.

3:19 pm - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#38 Rustam Ali

That is very informative post. thanks for sharing.

3:21 pm - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#39 funny memes|pics

very good articles on beginners guide on photography

11:43 am - Tuesday, May 3, 2016

#40 Salim Ahmed

Effective tips and tricks for children photography i think that who follow this tips his be experts. Thanks for sharing post. keep your writing.

5:51 pm - Sunday, May 8, 2016

#41 Christina Bennett

I think that this is an amazing article full of tips and advice - great for anyone wanting to learn how to photograph children. It is hard and I definitely agree that keeping it simple is best

7:51 pm - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#42 Corrie Maye

It is very great post.


11:28 am - Friday, July 29, 2016

#43 Ashraf

Excellent Tips about beginners guide on photography. Thank you very much for sharing.

6:18 pm - Friday, July 29, 2016

#44 candid wedding photographers in coimbatore

experience the best photographic moments.


3:42 pm - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

#45 Mat Tam

“setting the shutter speed to 1/25th sec and the aperture to f/4 is a good starting point.” Unless you can capturing photos of sleeping newborns, 1/25th will not be fast enough.  I have my camera default at 1/250, let me ISO be auto upto 12800 on Aperture priority

Totally agree on skipping the studio with kids.  The best photos are the kids running and being kids

10:22 pm - Wednesday, August 10, 2016