"Pose Children Like a Pro! 5 Tips For Posing Children in a Family Photoshoot" Now live on Youtube!!!
It’s no secret that posing children during a photoshoot is not an easy task. In fact, it’s hard enough that some photographers even refuse to do it. I mean, that’s saying something, right? In today’s video, I’m going to take you along through five fool-proof posing tips for children so you can take your family photography to the next level. Follow along with the family photoshoot I did right here in beautiful Boulder, Colorado with two fraternal twin boys and their younger sister.
The key to a successful photoshoot with kids is creating a space that they feel safe, settled, and happy. When we manage to do this as photographers, our photos become more meaningful, powerful, and impactful. And, as I will say again and again… Meaningful photos sell!!!
During this photoshoot, the kids’ mom wanted the photos to highlight the differences between the brothers. This is always a good reminder that although as a photographer I can always incorporate photos from my shoots into my own portfolio, the mother’s vision is always what I’m catering towards. After all, she is the one that is going to buy my photos! Consider this as you’re choosing the final cuts: the mother’s decision trumps all.
One last thing before we jump into the tips. When shooting a group of children, I try my best to stick with one lens. When working with babies or older kids, it’s easier to take time to switch lenses, but with younger kids, it’s important to keep up a constant level of energy and make sure they’re engaged. For this shoot, I shot most of the pictures with my 85mm, which is a great lens because it creates a consistent portrait. I want to emphasize this because it’s proof that in order to be a successful photographer and take beautiful photos, you DO NOT need to have the most expensive cameras and lenses as a beginner. The 85mm is a great, cost-effective lens for any photographer, although with an 85mm you cannot zoom in and out, something called fixed focal light. This can be challenging but use it to your advantage to keep the kids engaged. During this shoot, I pretended to hop like a frog -- back and forth -- in order to keep the kids giggling.
Children this age are notoriously hard to pose, but with these next five tips, you’ll be on your way to beautiful family photos in no time.
#1: Bribe Them
Okay, I know… Bribery may not seem like the best method. However, oftentimes a little incentive is what gets you from good photos, to meaningful photos. Sometimes, I may ask the mom to help me with the bribery. Maybe she will offer to buy them ice cream if they behave during the shoot, or take them to a movie. More often than not, however, I bring my own source of bribery… A toy basket!
During the pandemic, I’ve expanded to keep three of these baskets, just because little hands are frequently working through the items. I generally start the photoshoot by giving them a sneak peak and allowing them to dig through a little bit. I promise them that they can choose some toys after the shoot if they are good listeners. This way, they have their eye on the prize.
When buying the toys for the baskets, I know it's tempting to go to the dollar store and fill them quickly, but I like to buy toys that represent my target audience. In this case, my target audience seems to coincide with people that shop at Target. I love to go to the dollar section at Target and look for things that are a little more than a dollar -- maybe three to five. I don’t want to give the kids just a generic toy that can lose on the car ride home, but something that will last a little longer. This way, the toy serves as a memory of the shoot, and even the parents can remember the lasting photos and the family connection.
A lot of times, my clients will spend a thousand dollars or more on their shoot and photos. If this is the case, I like to give their kids a little wooden camera as a gift. This wooden camera is modern, unique, and a great long-lasting toy for the kids to play with. It gives the photoshoot an extra level of detail, and shows your clients that you care about their kids. I sell them in multiple colors on my website, so if you’re interested, check them out!
#2: Be Silly
When shooting children, be as silly and goofy as possible. Kids love to see adults act funny, which means you are free to do whatever you need to do to get the best photos possible. I like to sing songs, dance around, and put stuffed animals on my head or camera. When shooting older kids, I even like to break out a TikTok dance or two… Which I’d have to say I’m pretty good at. :)
The bottom line is, I’d rather look goofy and maybe even a little weird around mom and dad if it means I get meaningful pictures of their kids. Powerful images mean so much more than trying to act composed and sophisticated. Once again, meaningful pictures sell!
With six to eleven year old boys, there is the extra challenge of getting them to look genuine in photos. At this age, boys especially love to make goofy faces at the camera. As gross and silly as it may seem, making noises that appeal to their sense of humor (farting sounds, burping noises, pretending to pick your nose) may be exactly what you need to get a gorgeous smiling or laughing photograph. Don’t be afraid to pull the parents into the shenanigans either! Get them to go along with your silliness, and soon you’ll have gorgeous photos that the whole family will treasure.
#3: Do the Children’s Pose Idea First
Another thing I like to do is cater to the kid’s ideas first in order to keep them engaged and make them feel heard. Children are brilliant, and oftentimes you can get a lot of unique pictures using their ideas. In this case, one of the little boys wanted to take pictures with his baby bear stuffed animal. I managed to take some beautiful and meaningful photographs of him hugging the bear -- and it was his idea! After this, I took the baby bear and put him on my head or my camera to get some gorgeous giggling and smiling shots from the kids.
I always encourage the parents to bring either a lovey or stuffed animal or blanket. These photos are often personal, and parents will love the intimate memory. Remember to ALWAYS include some lovey pictures in the final gallery.
Overall, get kids involved creatively so that they can feel like they’re contributing!
#4: Be Direct, When it Fails, Mimic
Kids are smart, when you ask them to do something, they generally will. Especially if you remind them of that treat basket in the end...
During this photoshoot, I had to be direct in asking the little girl to fix her sundress or her hair. If this didn’t work, oftentimes I had to show her by demonstrating on myself or my own dress. Sundresses can be tricky… If the dress isn’t in the right position or the legs aren’t positioned in the right way, those photos will inevitably be thrown out at the end. Avoid this! Be direct, and when this fails, show them by mimicking what you want them to do with your own body!
Later on in the shoot, I mimicked hugs in order to get the kids to hug each other or position their arms or bodies. Sometimes, if I needed the extra nudge, I’d get mom or dad to come stand behind me and help out demonstrating as well. Most importantly, throughout the photoshoot, It’s also important to match the kids energy. If they’re laughing, so am I. I want to share this moment with them and validate their excitement and happiness.
#5: Capture Candid Moments
Not all of your photos have to be of strict poses, in fact, some of the most meaningful photos may be when you capture something natural. Simply follow your client’s lead and explore their connection with their children.
During this photoshoot, I was able to snap an adorable picture of mother and daughter when they were simply waiting off to the side. Another time, I captured dad picking up all three children as they ran over to hug him. Both of these photos were completely candid and unplanned, but some of my favorites from the shoot.
That wraps up my five tips for posing children and taking meaningful, genuine pictures. Thank you for tuning in for this week's newest video! I’m so happy to share these five tips with you guys. Sending you love and brightness!
Stacey Potter is an award wining family photographer based in Boulder, Colorado. Her acclaimed work has been featured in several magazines. To schedule an appointment or ask a question, please contact her at 303.818.7757 or email firstname.lastname@example.org