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5 KEY TIPS FOR GETTING THE BEST PORTRAIT OF YOUR CHILD

Updated: Aug 16

I love photographing children! No two sessions are the same – and nothing ever goes to plan. So, what do you need to be aware of to get what you want from your photography shoot?




1. Selecting a Good Photographer


So you’ve looked online at examples of a photographer’s work and read their information. You are ready to make contact. What should you expect?


A good photographer will suggest you meet before the shoot. I find this is important for several reasons:

  • You get to know them, and they get to know you. Does he or she make you feel comfortable? Even though you will be there throughout the session, you need to know your child is safe – both at the photo shoot and afterwards with the final images.

  • Does the photographer relate well to your child? It is really important for your child or children to have met the person who is going to photograph them, before they stand in front of a stranger with a camera. On the day, your children will then be more comfortable with the photographer, and with the camera. The more relaxed they are, the better the images will be.

  • The legal stuff – this is extremely important. I am a member of the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers and their contracts are easy to read and understand, with an approved standard format thoroughly checked for legality. It includes clear information on what I will and will not do with the images I have of your child, details of fees, what is included and what is extra, payment details, and the expectations for both of us. All clear, up front and no hidden surprises.


2. Choosing the Best Location


When you talk to me prior to the session, we talk about location. Do you prefer studio shots? Will your son or daughter be more comfortable at home? What will the weather be like? Do you want them to wear a special outfit? What environment will tell the best visual stories?


Wherever you shoot, it is best to have 2-3 scene options. Maybe a park where there are trees, play equipment and a building. Or at your home where you could use a play-room, a spot with a simple coloured background and an outside area. Choose somewhere your kids can have fun, where your photos will show them in a natural, playful environment, showcasing their unique personality.


Some children are naturally talented in front of the camera. In my experience, it is best to shoot candidly with young children as much as possible. Little kids don’t tend to have a great attention span! Older children, however, often respond to ‘posing’ moments – so think about your child and the style of photo you are looking for.


3. Clothes and Props


My mantra with clothes is to choose something that your child feels comfortable in – and something that reflects their personality. If you put them in a suit or best dress, but they can’t move freely or it itches, you won’t get the best shots. Favourite dress-ups are great, but take something else for them to wear as well. That way you will get a good range.


My other advice on clothes is that often plain, bold colours can work well. Bringing a couple of outfits is a good idea.


Props can be very helpful. All good photographers have props you can use for a good range of photos, but in the end it is you who needs to be happy with the images. Think about what your son or daughter enjoys doing. Take along a favourite superman cape, or ballet outfit. Maybe a teddy, a toy truck, or a favourite book. You know your child – think about what they love to do, what might help them relax and enjoy the session.


4. Family


Sometimes the best prop you can use is you! A good way to relax a tense or shy child, while adding to the visual story, is to add another person into the image. This could be an older sibling or a parent. Adding that second person into a shot gives context, another point of interest and introduces the idea of family into your images. It is a great way to begin the session, relaxing your child from the start.


5. After the Session


The contract you sign clearly outlines what happens after the session, and in what time frame. I have a secure online gallery, or will come in person to show you a selection of the best images.


Enjoy your child’s photo shoot! They can be fun, crazy and exhausting sessions – and also very rewarding. Always choose a photographer that you feel will show your child at their best, and capture their true personality. Your photos will be something for you to treasure - a memory, a special moment in time.


I'm here to help.


Mary Hinsen is a photographer, mother, grandmother and writer, known for her award-winning event photography, portraits and fine art images. She lives in the beautiful Central Otago region of New Zealand.

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