Tips on how to take better pictures of your kids – How to engage kids in a photo shoot (part 1)

How many times did you try taking photos of your kids and got frustrated? You saw that sweet moment but by the time you turn on your camera they are doing something else and don’t want to look at you when you ask them. Then you ask them again but all you can see it’s annoyance on their face. They are not interested and they just want to continue doing whatever they were doing. Sounds familiar? As a professional family and kids photographer I still find photographing some of the kids very challenging. The toughest ones are the todlers who either love to explore and run around for hours or they are too shy to show their personalities. In this post I am gonna talk about kids behaviour and how to get them engaged in a photo shoot.
I only have an hour or two to meet and photograph the whole family and become a friend with their kids. I can get a feel for their mood in first 5-10 minutes of my family private sessions and I have to adjust fast. As a parent you already have one advantage – they know you and they feel safe and confortable around you. Anytime you go outside with your kids bring your camera with you. They are growing fast and you don’t want to miss a great opportunity. If the kids will see you using the camera quite often they will act naturally around it after a while and you won’t have to worry about cheesy smiles anymore.

The best tip in my opinion is to just play with your kids. Get involved. Chase them around, pick them up throw them in the air. This is the best way to get them laughing and act naturally. In the photo below mom was chasing her little boy and picked him up once she got him. In other case she would put him on shoulders and they would chase daddy.
How to engage kids in a photo shoot
Direct them little bit however let them play. I always draw a start and finish line when they chase each other or ask an older sibling to help me entertain their little brother or sister. By asking for help, kids feel more important and are more likely to help you. In the pictures below I asked Sophie to jump in the puddle and hopefully we would get her little brother attention as he was running around without stopping. After that she started to pull on a wagon and Finlay wanted to do the same. The result is this great picture of little Finlay trying to pull the wagon with his big sister in. The younger kids love to repeat after their older siblings and sometimes it works when you ask the older one to help you out.
Tip: Get on their level. Kneel down and chat with them.
Siblings playing outside on rainy day
Don’t force them. If they are not into it, they are not going to smile and things could get worse. You have to come up with new ideas, be creative and let them be. In the photos below, Finlay would not sit on the car. After couple of tries we just moved the car where he played with some rocks and got the series of shots with him playing around the car (even sitting on it). In second photo he just refused to stand or do anything, so I asked the whole family to stand around him for something different.
Tips for natural photos of kids
Here is another example when the boy runs from one parent to another.
Kids lifestyle photography tips
Look for the details: tiny hands, cute bracelets, favourite toy or anything else that catches your eye. I loved Finlay’s little red sneakers so I made sure we’ve got a few pictures of those too. I usually offer some water or quick snack to keep them sitting /standing still for a second.
creative kids photography
And sometimes, no matter what you do, they are just having a bad day. It’s ok to take a few photos of them being cranky. At the end, it is still a great memory showing your kids personalities and you will most likely laugh at those pictures years later.
fun kids photos