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.
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.
Alice 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.
Alice 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
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.
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
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
Additional tips include effective ideas for photographing parent-and-child combinations, incorporating
the family pet, and working with kids who have special needs. Puc also relays her extensive sales-savvy to
help photographers with marketing, client retention, and obtaining top referrals.
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of 16 customers.
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
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
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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