Kids photography has been getting popular over the last few years, and it has good growth for the foreseeable future. The market is not as saturated as, say, wedding photography, and you don’t need a bunch of high-tech gear to start. It’s all down to technique and practice, and that’s what this article is about: the techniques to get stunning images of kids, and the tricks to get them to cooperate while still having fun.
We’ve published the guide for lifestyle newborn photography and baby photography, but kids photography is a different game. Kids move around very quickly, and they’re able to express their emotions and needs. These are some of the biggest challenges in kids photography.
In this kids photography guide for beginners, we’re sharing the technical and practical kids photography tips – from how to shoot sharp images when your subject is moving fast, to keeping kids happy during the photo session.
Table of Contents
The Camera Settings and Techniques You Need to Know
Set the focus setting to Continuous Focus mode
In Canon, it’s known by the name AI Servo, while in Nikon it’s called AF-C. This enables your camera to automatically adjust its focus on moving subjects, like when kids are running around.
Kids never stay still, they’re always on the move. As you want to let the kids do their thing and be as natural as possible, setting your focus mode to Continuous Focus is important to make sure you don’t end up with blurry images.
For phone camera users, you don’t have to worry much about this. The phone camera is usually quick to adjust its focus, but you can always tap quickly on the part you want to focus on just before you shoot.
Shoot in continuous/burst mode to capture everything
Things can happen in a matter of seconds, and you don’t want to miss a cute moment because you press the shutter one second too soon/late.
Keep your camera setting at continuous/burst mode at all times, and keep your finger on the shutter button for a few seconds to capture their action.
Pro tip: When you use a DSLR, make sure your shutter speed is high (faster than 1/200, or 1/500 if they’re running around) to avoid blurry images.
Use a shallow depth of field for close-up shots
When you do closeup shots, you want to keep the focus on the kid, without the distracting background. Go for f/2.8 or lower to draw the focus to them.
If you use an iPhone to photograph kids, choose the Portrait mode if the feature is available. Alternatively, you can download apps that allow you to set this manually, like Camera FV-5.
Explore different angles and heights
With kids, positioning your camera at different angles and heights can give significantly different effects.
Positioning your camera on the same level as their head will give a normal look at the size. Shoot from a high angle to emphasize their small size, or shoot from the ground level to make them appear larger for a more creative look.
Read: 10 Experts Share Their Ultimate Kids Photography Tips – and this is what you should know.
Focus on the eyes
Just like you do when taking a portrait, set the focus on the eyes. This is the part that has to be sharply focused, even when everything else is not. If you use a phone camera, tap on the kid’s eyes before taking the picture.
These special moments can be stored on kids photo albums.
Fix the composition in the post-processing
When it comes to kids photography, the composition becomes a lower priority during the photo session. Kids move fast and you often only have seconds to capture a specific moment, expression, or action.
So here’s the tip: Don’t think too much about the composition.
Your priority is to catch the moment and to have the subjects in clear and sharp focus. You can always crop and recompose later in the post-processing, and it also gives you a chance to play with unique framing and composition.
The Secrets to Good Images: The Top Kids Photography Tips
Choose the right location
We’ve heard that location is important, and indeed it is. But for kids photography, it’s really important to choose a location where they can run around and play. A park or playground is always a good choice. You can also consider places with a bright-colored background, as this can instantly add a cheerful mood to the photos.
If the options are limited, you can also do the photo session at the family home, indoors or outdoors (for example, in the backyard). You can choose a spot with a plain background to minimize the distractions in the image.
Be their friend and bring toys
Kids can be apprehensive with a stranger, and this feeling would be reflected in the images. Before you start the photo session, set aside some time to introduce yourself, chat, and play with them.
Pro tip: It helps a lot when you bring toys they can play with during the session. They’ll feel warm towards you, and also, you can use the toys as props! Things like plastic balls, bubbles, or a wagon are always great with kids.
Capture the emotions
When it comes to kids photography, images that show sincere emotions and feelings are the most precious ones. These will be the photos that the family will hold dearly for the years to come.
Let the kids play and have fun, give them their favorite toys, or be a funny clown that makes them laugh. Be ready at all times to capture these genuine emotions.
Capture the ordinary
With kids, it’s difficult to get them posed for a long time. And even then, you wouldn’t be able to capture their innocence and the moments that are attached to their childhood.
The best way is to follow them and capture everything that happens, even things that might seem ordinary. The kids playing and giggling, rolling around on the ground, reaching to mama, it’s all part of the daily moments that the family will cherish.
Keep the kids happy
The best time to capture kids is when they’re most content, that is when they’ve had enough sleep and food. If you’re doing a photo session, try to schedule it after their nap and meal time. Happy kids make for the best photos, and it also makes your job a lot easier.
For a more difficult situation, Clickin Moms shares useful tips for photographing uncooperative kids, just in case you need it.
Print the photos for your clients
Add more value to your work by including printed photos from your session. Digital files are good, but they can’t give a personal touch and satisfaction the way printed photos do. You can offer to print the photos in the form of kids photobooks, decor products, or photo prints.
Help your clients understand the importance of keeping a memento of their kids growing up. Present the products to show the value of having something they can keep in the family, and make it easy for your clients to choose and buy the products.
Pro tip: don’t offer the products separately, include them as a part of your package. This strategy has proved to be effective in increasing product sales.
Recommended Lenses for DSLR users
It’s true that you don’t need expensive gear for kids photography. A phone camera can work really well, especially to capture candid and spontaneous moments. But DSLR still has its advantages, and if you’re thinking to invest in great lenses for kids photography, here are our recommendations.
For kids photography, 24-70mm f/2.8 should be your go-to lens. This lens is great for its versatility, especially when you’re shooting kids who move around so fast. This lens allows you to alternate between wide shots and closeup shots with ease, which really helps when you have to be nimble when capturing fleeting moments and gestures.
There are 2 things that 50mm f/1.2 lens has: it creates an amazing depth of field, and the aperture allows you to shoot in any conditions, even a tricky one like a low-light location.
This lens is great for kids portraits when you want to fill the frame with the subject and blur the background to make the subject pop. This focal length hits the perfect balance between wide and telephoto angles, giving stunning portraits with a little glimpse of the surroundings.
When you want to take family portraits or photos of a kid with their parents or siblings, this lens is great to capture a larger group and the surroundings. The wide aperture will create a stunning depth that still keeps the focus on the subject, while also including the surroundings.
We hope this guide can help you create beautiful kid’s photographs that will be cherished by the family!
What are your top kids photography tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Great tutorial for the beginners on kid photography. This takes quite some skills and patience. Even senior photographers sometimes find it quite challenging. But thanks to this article and the tips mentioned here. I believe this will be a great help for beginners like us. I really appreciate the work.