Two children hugging

5 Tips to help you get the best portraits of your kids

Here at Photos By Orion, we love working with children! They are so fun and spontaneous, and they can have such engaging smiles! But kids, like pets, have only a short amount of time and attention they are willing to give to a photographer, so here are a few tips for helping you get beautiful portraits of your child.

Baby portrait in the Photos By Orion studio

Being well rested and having a full tummy helps little ones create great photos.

 

  1. Have them well fed and rested 

No one does well in photos if they are hungry or tired, so the best time to do a photo session that will involve children is right after lunch and a nap. It is also best to keep the photo session short, so don’t plan on having your child involved for an entire hour. When we do photo shoots with small children (under the age of 5) they are regularly finished early so the child doesn’t have to be “on” for that whole time.

2) Bring a favorite toy

Often times a favorite toy or toys can make the process easier for a child. They feel safe when they have their “snuggy” with them or when they can see it, so bringing a few props like that can enhance the photo shoot. It is also important to remember that YOU are their most favorite, so helping your photographer out by standing right behind them to call out and play with your child can make a huge difference.

Child's portrait in the park in Salem, Oregon

The first photos tend to be the best when working with children

3) Location, location, location!

Choosing where to take photos is a very important decision. Some children do well indoors at a studio (especially the really young children as a studio can be more temperature controlled than an outdoor venue), while others need to be able to run. Whenever we are working with children I tend to recommend venues that are close to, or include, a playground. We use the park as an incentive to get through the “boring” first part of the session, which we try to limit to 30 minutes, and then get fun playing shots at the playground to round out the session and give the children a treat. During the really hot of the summer, three great parks we love to take clients with children are to Riverfront Park and West Bennett park in Salem, and to River Road park near Keizer because each of these parks not only has a playground, but it also has a splash pad where kids can cool off after all that work of looking cute (and it makes for great photo opportunities)!

Young boy plays at the park in Salem Oregon

Having somewhere fun to take photos can be a big hit!

4) Keep directions (and expectations) simple

Kids are good at following simple directions, so when it comes to posing them for photos, the simpler the directions they are given the better. For the photo on the left, all the direction we gave was to sit on the stool, look at the camera, and smile. He naturally posed himself into that adorable pose so we snapped fast and got that great shot. Children don’t always understand why we are getting photos, so to them, posing is weird! They get lost in multi-step directions like “sit up, put your hands here, your feet here, point your nose toward the camera, etc., and will forget to leave their bodies where we put them as they get each new direction. So with your kids, simpler is better. Letting them sit as they naturally do and then changing 1 or 2 things is the best way to get great photos and to set appropriate expectations for your portrait session.

 

5) Be relaxed and remember, this is fun!

Children will take their cues from their parents, so it is important for you to be relaxed and to have the attitude that this will be fun. I know that can be hard to get everyone dress and ready to go, but taking a moment to breath and re-center yourself you can help everyone to be in a better mood and therefore get better photos. These are your memories that will last well beyond your lifetime, but they are also a shared family experience. Whether that experience is good or bad is up to you. Getting family photos each year should be something that is fun for all, because having memories of each stage of your family’s life is so important!

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