8 Ways to Take Beautiful Photos of Kids

Do you like taking family photos? Growing up, the only time my family took a real picture was for our annual holiday card. And 100% of the time, you could point out at least one sibling in the midst of a total meltdown. (For two years in a row, it was all three of us.) “Good enough,” I remember my mom saying. Why is getting kids to stand still — let alone to smile on command — so impossible? We asked four family photographers to share their secrets for capturing real moments with kids…

8 Ways to Take Beautiful Photos of Kids

by Nicki Sebastian

Get on their level, literally. “When you’re under three feet tall, there’s nothing more intimidating than someone towering over you with a camera. Getting eye to eye with a child is the best way to ease into their environment. After you’ve been identified as an adult-sized kid, the photography part becomes secondary — which leads to natural photos of children in their element. — Nicki Sebastian

Ask questions.When’s your birthday? What are you going to be for Halloween? What’s your favorite ice cream? When you land on a topic that they’re excited about, ask follow-up questions that get them to that happy place. Kids can’t help lighting up when they’re talking about something they love.”
— Christine Han

8 Ways to Take Beautiful Photos of Kids

by Julia Robbs

Play pretend. “To encourage a child to look in a certain direction, ask them questions. I once asked Toby to see if there was a bug on my camera lens and ended up getting this beautiful shot. If I want them to look into the distance, I’ll ask them to try to find birds or planes in the sky.” — Julia Robbs

Just play. “Allow them to play while photographing them. It might take longer to get your ‘shot’ because they can get a little crazy, but you’ll get something genuinely beautiful.” — Julia Robbs

8 Ways to Take Beautiful Photos of Kids

by Nicki Sebastian

Go rogue. “Let them do something they’re normally not allowed to do: jump on the bed, play with their food, stand on the furniture. The newfound freedom will make them beam. Then show them the photos; kids light up when they see themselves in action. If all else fails, a staring contest between siblings always ends with laughter.” — Rebecca Reed

Humor works. “Fellow photographer Jeff Z., who does a ton of school portraits, asks kids to say things like, ‘Stinky cheese! Broccoli cookies! Smelly feet!’ Kids will inevitably crack up. Pick words that rhyme with ‘cheese’ so you their faces go in the direction of a smile.” — Christine Han

by Julia Robbs

Lash it up. “My all-time favorite way to photograph kids is to focus on their eyelashes. I do this with adults, too. To me, it doesn’t matter if they’re looking straight at the camera if I can capture that quiet moment.” — Julia Robbs

Last, but least, go for the gold. “Poop jokes never fail.” — Nicki Sebastian

Do you like taking family photos? Do you have any tips?

P.S. 9 times to take photos of your children, and 11 cool ways to display family photos.

(Top photo by Nicki Sebastian.)

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