Okay, so we all love taking photos of our children – but how do we do that without losing our minds?!! They always say never to work with kids or animals, but there are definitely some approaches that I use during my sessions, and that you can use as well, to capture your kids without everyone losing the plot!

Set Expectations

This is probably the main thing. Over the years I learnt this from my own kids, and especially from my son Kohen who would always be so painful to photograph – we’d constantly be yelling his name and eventually we’d all get frustrated and it just wasn’t a pleasant experience for anyone! And then I let go of the expectation that everyone needed to look at the camera and smile in the perfect way, and I started to actually enjoy just capturing them the way that they were. Yes, I still put them together for a photo, but my expectations are different. I now actually often ask them NOT to look at the camera, and this is actually the best way to get the photos I love as they’ll start interacting with each other, or they’ll focus on something they’re playing with and I’ll be able to grab the expression on their face. So adjust your expectations – realise that a photo doesn’t have to have everyone looking and smiling for it to be beautiful, and that capturing their personalities is just as great. Let go of expecting kids to sit still and focus – they just don’t want to do that!

Let Kids Be Kids!

Following on from this, the best way to photograph kids is to let them be kids!!! Let them hang upside down or jump on the bed, let them pull funny faces or express their emotions (even those bad ones!). Similarly, let them rest when they need to, and cuddle if they need comforting. There are multiple benefits to this. Firstly, they’ll be less likely to resist being photographed, as they’re being allowed to have fun. Secondly, this will cause everyone (including parents!) to be less stressed, and thirdly by allowing them to be kids, you’ll let their little personalities come out and this will be captured forever. You’re much more likely to get a genuine smile by letting them be a little childlike compared to forcing them to sit still and smile at the camera.

Tips and Tricks

Having said this, sometimes you really want them to look at the camera, even just for ONE photo. This can be challenging for multiple kids but there ARE some ways you can make it more likely that you’ll grab that photo. Here are some ideas:

  • play the ‘frozen’ game where you need to stay still for the count of 10
  • show them their photo on the back of the camera, and ask them whether they can give their absolute best smile next time to make an even better photo, then show them the results. Kids like seeing themselves on the back of the camera!
  • tell them to imagine that their faces are stuck together – this usually results in smiles as everyone presses together really close
  • ask them questions such as ‘who is the naughtiest?’, ‘what’s your favourite toy’, ‘who is funniest – mummy or daddy?’ – or anything age appropriate which allows them to feel like you’re paying attention to them, and takes the focus off the fact that they’re having their photo taken?
  • ask them to show you what they’re playing with – e.g. a leaf or flower. Usually this means they’ll hold it up to the camera and they’ll actually look at the camera as well
  • ask them to squeeze the person next to them as tight as they can
  • tell them that on the count of 5 they’re going to either get tickled, or tickle the person next to them
  • be silly, let them be silly, get someone else to be silly directly behind the camera
  • say their name or age wrong – this usually encourages them to look at you and smile whilst correcting you
  • get down on their level and talk to them WITHOUT the camera in front of your face

Fun and Games

Kids love games, and games are great for adults too! Think tickles, flying in the sky, spinning, follow the leader, jumping, running races, blowing bubbles, piggy back rides, lifting each other up, Simon Says, Chinese Whispers, and other games like this which encourages movement and interaction. This helps to loosen everyone up and bring out those genuine emotions!

Follow their Lead

If they’re not in the mood, you really can’t push it. If none of the tricks are working, and it’s just leading to a meltdown, you really just have to let it go. If it’s during a photo session, this just comes back to resetting expectations and realising that those images where you’re comforting your child, or they’re laying with their head buried into your chest, or even screaming in the background, can be beautiful too because it’s just capturing LIFE. REAL LIFE. We can’t predict or control kids moods, but the biggest way to ruin a session is to get angry or stressed about their behaviour. Just go with it. If they need a break, give them one. If they’re happy being photographed, then go with that and take as many as you can get until they lose interest (and they WILL lose interest).


If you’d like to take the pressure off of yourself, and get ME to capture some beautiful images of your kids, Contact me here.