Five Tips on Baby and Children Photography

This photography article is about the difficult subject of getting the best out of your offspring. They grow so quickly it’s important to have some really good pictures of them at different stages of their lives.

This is more important if you have two or more children as the enthusiasm with which you document your first child tends to diminish with subsequent children. A friend of mine who has three young boys says he and his wife have several albums worth of the firstborn son’s early years, including a few hours of video footage. The second son barely merited a whole album and ten minutes on the end of a wedding video. The third son, he says, appeared occasionally in the background of other photographs...!

Sadly this is fairly common and some really good pictures of the young ones are essential, if only to embarrass them with when they reach 18! So here we go with five tips guaranteed to boost your success rate:

Five Top Children's Photography Tips

 1. Get down on their level. Most adults point the camera downwards with the end result of a balloon head, small feet and half an acre of grass. If you sit or squat down, the proportions of your subject will be more natural looking. They will respond more readily to you and it is a lot easier to join in their games. Facial expressions are important here, and if you are on the ground playing with them you stand a better chance of getting a good smile. However...

 2. ... you don’t always have to wait for the smile before shooting. A calm expression and big eyes are very appealing. Shoot a few more shots  - your last one may just be that killer image you’ve been trying for.

Children's PhotographyCredit: © simon kemp 2013

3. Here’s a handy professional’s ploy for getting a good reaction from young babies - the fishing rod trick!  Get a length of bamboo about 4 or 5 feet long and tie a piece of thread or thin string to one end and a feather to the other end of the string. Dangle the feather above and in front of the baby’s face. When the infant reaches out for the feather, pull quickly towards the camera. With good timing you can get a great picture of the baby the way you want it, looking towards the camera. Warning! Please be careful waving the stick around. It’s best to keep it well above baby’s head. Using a longer piece of string may help. This approach, by the way, will benefit enormously from putting your camera on a tripod. 

 4. All children will be happier engaged in an activity of some sort. If you’re giving them toys to play with, keep them as small and unobtrusive as possible. This is so they do not dominate the final picture and detract from the real subject - your bundle of joy. When I photograph children in the studio I sometimes use small unpainted wooden toys for just this reason.

 5. Be patient! Pick a good time when the child or baby is fed and rested and be prepared to pack up and try again if things aren’t going well.