Anne Darling Photography

Child Portrait Photography

Child portrait photography is best done in a relaxed atmosphere and this can usually be created by involving the child in what you are doing. Ask them for suggestions such as what they would like to wear for example.

In the shot below, Alice chose her best dress for the photograph. Clothes which are not patterned or in strong colours that would distract attention from the subject work best.

children portrait photography Alice Miell, age 9: Photo by Anne Darling

Don't be afraid to ask the parents to keep their distance when photographing children as your subjects may relax more if they don't feel they have to 'perform'. Parents may want to watch at the beginning but can then slip away and leave you to work on your own with the child.

Great child portrait photography is sometimes most easily accomplished out of doors, either in the garden or in nature, as children love being out of doors and often feel less constrained in a natural environment.

Even when children are dressed up that won't stop them from climbing trees or, in Alice's case, from riding her quad bike. Children give the best photo opportunities when they are relaxed and in the shot below, Alice, in her best dress, was completely at home posing for the camera while sitting on her bike.

children portrait photographyAlice with Her Quad Bike: Photo by Anne Darling

Child portrait photography often works best mid-morning or mid-afternoon as at these times the light is softer. Direct sunlight will create hard shadows which are unflattering and can be too intense, especially with younger subjects. Try to avoid areas of direct sunlight but position your subject with open sky illuminating their face. If this is not possible, use fill flash to bring detail to the shadows.

children portrait photographyAlice by the Window: Photo by Anne Darling

Child portrait photography is sometimes more convenient when done indoors. If you would prefer an indoor setting, trying using a window as the light will be soft and flattering.

The larger the window the better, and here Alice is posed in front of French windows so there is plenty of light.

I asked her to sit on a high bar stool so she was comfortable and relaxed but not too low down, and I positioned the chair right next to the window because the strenghth of daylight drops rapidly as you move into the room. Even a few feet in it becomes much weaker.

If your subject is positioned next to a window, they will be back-lit so it is important to expose for the face, not the background. You will also need to use a reflector to avoid deep shadow on one side.

I used a reflector with the gold side towards her face. The silver side would have produced a cooler effect but Alice is pale-skinned and the gold side of the reflector helped to warm the skin tones. If you use a reflector in this way, you will need an assistant to hold it for you, and in this case Alice's brother happily obliged.

Recommended Reading

Famed for her masterful children's portraits and innovative methods, industry giant Sandy Puc' presents every conceivable aspect of children's portraiture in her Guide to Children's Portrait Photography

As great portrait sessions begin with top-notch planning and a working knowledge of the equipment, Puc' first offers her insights regarding the benefits of being well prepared from the start, including strategies for enhancing the technical aspects of the shoot, from lighting to posing to post-capture techniques.

Puc' then uses her renowned interpersonal skills to offer advice regarding working with parents as well as eliciting enthusiasm and cooperation from children of all ages, including teens.

Additional tips include effective ideas for photographing parent-and-child combinations, incorporating the family pet, and working with kids who have special needs. PucÂ’ also relays her extensive sales-savvy to help photographers with marketing, client retention, and obtaining top referrals.

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Contemporary photographs that cleverly capture a child's mood or personality - whether that's a big, toothy grin or a teary tantrum - are easily created with the tips and techniques explored in The Art of Children's Portrait Photography .

child portrait photography book Often called "lifestyle photography", modern techniques such as tightly cropped close-ups, vignettes, wide angles, and shallow depths produce images that are markedly less stiff and more expressive than traditional portraitures.

From capturing great expressions and body language to integrating meaningful locations into the shoot to further express the subject's personality, this guide thoroughly explains how photographers can develop their image-storytelling skills to develop stunning portraits.

Advice on creating platinum and chocolate hued prints, vibrant color scenes, simple grayscale images, and utilizing unusual textures or effects is also included.

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