6 Tips for Photographing Kids, by Jenni M Photography

We asked Jenni of Jenni M Photography to share with us some tips for photographing kids – her specialty! Take a look at her tips and comment below with some of yours!


“Photographing kids is hard.  It seems like there are 2 camps, those who love it and those who dread it.

Call me crazy, but I am in the “love it” camp.  There is nothing like capturing a child with their eyes lit up.  There is magic in it and I just can’t get enough!

I didn’t always love it though.  At the beginning it was HARD.  I actually preferred families with older kids.  They followed instructions, they stayed put, they smiled when I told them to.  Now?  I get all out giddy when clients book with kids under 5 years old!  What changed?  I kept working on it, I got better and I learned a few tricks that made a world of difference!

1) Have a questionnaire.  I can’t stress this enough.  It is really hard to walk in to a session with young kids if I don’t have one.  It gives me an idea on how to connect with them almost instantly.  Things like favorite color, TV show, what they like to do, their favorite toy…  If you start talking to kids about their favorite things it’s a game changer!

2) Brief the parents. Having photos taken with young kids can be stressful.  I make sure to let them know that if their kids pants get dirty half way through the session its OK, I can fix it in post processing.  I chat with them about not disciplining their kids during the session and keeping it light and fun.  I also describe to them how they will be able to help me to get the best result from their kids.

3) Be silly.  Cows say quack, 12435, putting leaves on my head, bringing my buddy George the camera monkey, playing peek a boo and just acting like a dork are all something I use during just about every shoot with young kids.  Do whatever it takes to get that real smile. It pays off in the end 😉

4) Take a break.  My family sessions are 60-90 minutes and sometimes they just need a break.  Don’t put down your camera though!  Some of my most favorite shots have been gotten during the downtime.

5) Be ready.  Do NOT expect a child to look at the big black camera in front of your face for more than a millisecond.  They will look but not for long.  Play with your settings all you want but you must be ready BEFORE you try to get their attention.  Once you have it you won’t keep it for long.

6) Do something.  This is my favorite part.  I normally leave it towards the end, after all of the “important” shots have been gotten.  At the end the kids are done and they just want to play.  I always ask the parents “How dirty/wet can they get at the end?”  Ha!  Roll in the grass, play in the dirt, splash in the water…  I love it when parents just let them play and there is nothing quite so beautiful as a child just being a kid.

Do you have any more tips?  I would love to add some new “tricks” to my tool box!”

– Jenni

Jenni McCarty is a wife, mom of four, l’il bit granola, jean-wearer, iced coffee drinker, home schooler, more than just a little obsessed with photography, frustrated organizer (see “mom of four”) yet ironically logical, Pinterest addict and Facebook follower, sufferer of ADCD (attention deficit crafters disorder), displaced Alaskan. She officially opened Jenni M Photography in 2012 and really enjoys blogging about her personal family adventures whenever she has time.



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