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Many parent’s have nightmare stories from their many attempts to get great images of their children, whether that be at a portrait session or in their living room with their digital camera. No doubt, capturing great images of children can be challenging and mystifying. They’re fickle, they can’t always tell us what’s wrong and they’re constantly on the move.

In this short article, I’d like to tackle the topic of getting great images of children, whether your out on a shoot with us, or taking pictures for yourself.

On a Petruzzo Photography Portrait Session

We approach portrait photography differently than many others. We’ll gladly trade picture perfection of something real and natural almost any day. And this creates a better part of our approach to photographing children.

Rather than attempt to capture what we want, we generally let a child show us what he or she wants to show us. Sometimes that means wandering around the back yard looking for bugs. Or in the play room looking at their favorite toys. Or maybe wrestling with mom and dad on the living room floor. Whatever the circumstance, we avoid the ‘do this, do that’ approach and instead look for the beautiful images that happen naturally when we interact with a child (or when you interact with your child).

What does this mean for you? Believe it or not, it can mean quite a lot. It means that you don’t want to treat your portrait session like a chore. The more fun a child is having, typically the better the images turn out.  Here’s a few simple guidelines you can follow to help us get the best images we can of your child:

1. While there will be some images where the child needs to stay and sit with mom and dad, or siblings, the majority of the time you should let them play. Don’t worry about any stress it may be causing us, if we need a little extra help, we’ll ask. So if it seems your child is running wild, don’t worry about it. We’ll let you know.

2. Avoid distributing punishments during your photoshoot. If the child isn’t cooperating, be sure that their ill-cooperation is actually causing problems before taking a stern tone. Dishing out a punishment at this time will almost certainly have negative affects on the quality of your images.

3. If your child is especially clingy, you may want to make yourself scarce so that the child can become more comfortable and opens up for the photographer a bit more. This is also typically true of teenagers. Sometimes a little independence goes a long way.

4. Don’t over-dress your child for the photoshoot. You may want to gussy them up a bit, but over-dressing may make them feel tense and less likely to get comfortable during the shoot. Think business-casual, but for children.

When You’re the Photographer

Of course, it’s not always feasible for you to pay us to capture great images for you. So, when you’re rolling up your sleeves to take some pictures of the little ones yourself, here are a few tips that will stand to instantly improve your images.

1. Photograph children from their eye line. Many people have a tendency to take photographs from where they stand. But you will capture more intimate photographs if you’re capturing them from the child’s own altitude.

2. If you don’t already have a digital camera, or are in the market for a new one, consider a digital SLR. These cameras have almost no delay between when the button is pressed and when the image is captured, making them perfect for children (or anything that doesn’t stay put for very long).

3. Try to take your picture when the child doesn’t see it coming. When they’re playing alone in the backyard, or while they’re completely pre-occupied with McDonald’s PlayPlace. This will help you capture something more natural, as well as avoid the full-on cheese smiles.

4. Let the child take some pictures. This will help them get familiar with what your doing. It also tends to smooth out camera-shyness.