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5 Tips for Photographers When Working with Kids

Photographers. This one my, friends, is for you. Whether you are a family photographer or a wedding photographer I feel like this will be beneficial. Family photographer for sure, you are working with kids of all ages all the time. Wedding photographers, I know your clients are typically adults, BUT what about that cute flower girl or that naughty ring bearer? Or the couple that is getting married that have children from a previous marriage. Or that past wedding client that would really love for you to capture their family 4 years later. Yeah this one is for you too. Ok, so I get it. Families can be scary. Cause kids. Especially if you don’t have your own kids or experience with kids (things I take for granted).


So I’m here to give you a few tips to win over those kids  early or what to do when they go a bit bonkers.

  1. Take time to connect with the kids

The first thing you should do when you meet a family is meet the kids. Don’t ignore them. Get face to face with them. Give them a high five. Ask them their name.  Introduce yourself. Make sure they feel seen. This is your chance to win them over. Complement them on their cool shoes! Or their awesome sweater! Or that cute dress. Hey can I borrow that when you are done? Hehehe nooooooo… it won’t fit you! It won’t?! Darn. *snippet of a silly conversation you can have with a kid* Talk to them like they are people, cause they are. They will be much more willing to play with you and connect with you if you make them feel important.

2. Turn it into a game 

You know what is not fun for kids? Standing still and smiling at a stranger. You know what is fun for kids? Games. Anytime you can turn something into a game, do it. Let them run, let them play. Get mom and dad to play games with the kids. Turn a pose into a game or even looking into the lens. “Can you see my eye? What color is my eye?” Boom they look at my lens. Its not always perfect but it worth a try. I’m not one to put a Elmo shaped scrunch around my lens to get a kids attention but I’m not above making a total goof of myself to get a kid’s attention or get a smile. 

3. Give then a chance to touch your camera

Gasp, What? Let them touch your precious camera?! Sure. Kids are super intrigued by that big black thing you keep putting in front of your face. Why not let them check it out. I love letting kids hit the shutter when I’m loading a new roll or even giving them the chance to take a photo (did that more with digital). Sometimes I even bring a little camera that I’m ok with them playing with to let them actually take some photos, bonus if its the Instax and they can take that photo home with them. This is just another chance to help them be comfortable with you and you will be surprised how much more willing they will be to have their picture taken.

4. Give them a break

This is where flexibility is SUPER important. Not everything you planned or hoped for will work out and that is OKAY. Be flexible and adapt to the family, kid, situation, whatever. If the kid needs a break, let him have a break. If he isn’t interested in what you want to do, its totally fine. Let him go, do something else with someone else and more than likely he will come back to you. If mom needs to pull him aside to have a talk, give them the space and capture something else. Kids are not going to be engaged with you for an hour. Map out your session so they get breaks, have time to play, so that when you want them again you will have them without burning them out.

5. Team up the parents

Just remember parents do know their kids best. If a kid really isn’t doing what you want them to do, see if you can get the parents to help you out. Have the parents give the direction or just have the parents do something that will cause the kid to do what you want. Instead of asking the kid to nuzzle mom, ask mom to nuzzle the kid…. What?! Groundbreaking! Jk. I know its not rocket science but sometimes the simple things are hard to remember. 

There are probably so many more tips and tricks out there but these are my 5 big ones. I know a lot of people use bribery with candy during a session. I haven’t made a habit of bringing candy so that has never been one of my go-tos. A lot of people swear by it and if thats you I say go for it. Just remember that working with kids shouldn’t be scary and it absolutely should be fun.

Which one of these have you mastered or what to try?

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