Photo Shoots with Active Children: Let Their Personalities Shine

We all love to see those wide, bright smiles from our children. The smiles where you can see the joy in their eyes. We love capturing the natural expressions of childhood. 

  Sticks, rocks, dirt. This is what I'll remember about this guy at this age. My little nature boy. 

Sticks, rocks, dirt. This is what I'll remember about this guy at this age. My little nature boy. 

Recently I took two of my boys, ages 10 months and 9 years, to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden to explore and get some fun shots of them. My 9 year old was well aware that I wanted to take photos while we were there and he was okay with that. He even helped me pick out outfits for both him and his brother the day before. 

  This boy is such a trooper. Besides always being willing to help me and help with his little brother, he had a busted lip from a sports injury the day before, but still put on his best smile for some pictures. 

This boy is such a trooper. Besides always being willing to help me and help with his little brother, he had a busted lip from a sports injury the day before, but still put on his best smile for some pictures. 

But going through this with my boys always help me remember what my clients likely go through as they are preparing to come to me for a photo shoot. So I figured I would put some things out there that I think would be helpful to my clients with children as they prepare for a photo shoot. 

First, don't expect them to be excited about getting their pictures taken. Some children do get excited about it. But for many, sitting in front of a camera and being asked to smile until their cheeks are sore is not their idea of fun. (Don't worry - our goal is to make the shoots an enjoyable experience for all.)

  Checking out the scene, trying to decide what to climb on first. 

Checking out the scene, trying to decide what to climb on first. 

As you're preparing for our session, don't focus on the idea that we're doing a photo shoot. You're even welcome to introduce us to the kids as friends who happen to like to take pictures.  Focus on the location we'll be visiting and the people you are with. We'll work on getting everyone focused when the time is right. 

  Rocks. This boy - always with rocks. 

Rocks. This boy - always with rocks. 

Next thing: Keep in mind the location we'll be shooting at. There is a reason we chose it. Probably because it is a beautiful place, and possibly because there is some sentimental attachment to the location as well. So I'm never surprised when children want to explore. We love it. We encourage it. And we'll do our best to capture it as they move through the world with wonder and awe.

Traditionally, family portraits have often been heavily posed and smiles are forced. If you have to say "cheese" we might not see the sparkle in the eyes that we typically associate with true joy. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with posed shots. But don't forget who you're there with. Your family. Loved ones. The ones you cherish the most. Appreciate their presence. Feel that love. And let that shine through. 

  Two peas in a pod. Love these two with all my heart. I'm sure you feel the same about yours. 

Two peas in a pod. Love these two with all my heart. I'm sure you feel the same about yours. 

A couple of additional tips to keep in mind with kids (and anyone else for that matter):

  • Bring a light snack along, and make sure that everyone is comfortably fed before the shoot. Hungry leads to grumpy, and grumpy faces don't usually make the best photos. 
  • Be well rested, as much as possible. 
  • Stay hydrated. Your eyes will be brighter, your skin will be clearer, and you'll feel better. 
  • Avoid colored juices or candies that might stain clothes, lips, or tongues. 
  • Bring an extra change of clothes, just in case. 
  • Relax and enjoy the environment and the experience. 
  That's my boy. Naturally.

That's my boy. Naturally.