Photo Tips: 4 Mistakes to Avoid When Photographing Kids

This picture from almost 10 years ago makes me laugh now, but at the time I admit I was frustrated. I had a new camera and was excited to practice photography on my kids. They, as you can see, were not as excited to be photographed!   I definitely could have used these photo tips!

I ended up deleting most of the pictures from that day, but I kept this one because it is just so ridiculous, how mercurial the moods of children can be. Literally the minute I set down my camera the scowls and tears disappeared and they ran off laughing.

So here are the photo tips for avoiding the 4 mistakes I used to make when photographing my kids:


#1. Prepare them for the shoot. I didn’t warn the kids I’d be photographing them for a few minutes that afternoon, but instead pulled them away from exploring the farm because I decided spontaneously I wanted a picture of them next to the silo.

I learned to give them plenty of advance warning about photoshoots.

#2. Let them pose the way they want to for the first few pictures. The youngest wanted to stand next to his sister, but I wanted a “pyramid” composition with the tallest child in the middle and made my youngest stay put.

I learned to take a few photos with the kids as they wanted to stand, keeping the mood light and playful before asking them to do the poses I wanted.

#3. Keep the session short.  I prolonged the session, even though it was clear that I was not going to get a natural portrait of happy, connected siblings.  

I learned to keep shoots short, especially if they were making the effort to cooperate.

#4.  Use positive reinforcement (bribes are okay!).  I used threats rather than bribery to try to get them to smile nicely.  I started getting a little frustrated, demanding that they smile nicely for just one photo or else.

I learned that child bribery has its place, and that even a small treat can be extremely motivating to your kids and bring genuine smiles to their faces.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like:

  • My Photography Articles Listed and Sorted by Type here
  • My Mindful Photography Workshop here
  • My 30 Day Photography Challenge here