The great thing about photographing babies is that it’s hard to get a bad picture. Bad hair days just look scruffy-cute, and if they’re sleeping or not paying any attention to the photographer, well, those photos can come out looking better than stuffy set up ones.

Toddlers, older children and teens can be a bit more tricky, but when you’ve been through as many photo shoots of brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews as I have, you learn that it’s all about working with your subject in the most natural way possible. If your child is being uncooperative, work with it, resistance is likely futile, and you don’t want to end up with a photo that looks like this.

Here are my tips for creating beautiful, tantrum-free photographs of babies, toddlers, kids and teens.

Babies

Capturing innocence – The most appealing thing about babies is their purity, innocence and helplessness. In evolutionary terms, babies are cute so that we adults will look after them (they’re smarter than they look, right?). Think about it – all of that vulnerability, all of that curiosity, all of that innocence, we just can’t resist it. It’s adorable!

Happy Baby photo

So to catch those big, round, vulnerable puppy-dog eyes, my tip is to try taking a photo from above.

A down-looking camera angle makes them look so adorable you won’t be able to resist picking them up for a cuddle! It catches the essence of your wide-eyed little one’s beauty – their freshness and their happy dependence on loved ones.

Toddlers and older children

Action shots – Catch the little ones in action! As we’ve seen, photos that are set up can come out great and really bring out certain elements of childhood, but for truly authentic shots of toddlers and children, I find it’s best to snap kids doing what kids do best: playing. Of course, you can’t force them to play, so keep your smart phone handy and you’re sure to find them doing something adorable sooner or later, whether it be eating ice cream or decapitating barbie dolls or attempting to climb the book case. And when you do, remember, it’s all about stealth!

Toddler at play

I don’t know about you, but I find that kids these days are so accustomed to mobile photography that whenever I take my phone out of my pocket to check the messages, they’ll be smiling and ready for the “say cheese” they think is coming their way. We’ll have a generation of show ponies if we’re not careful!

Teenagers

Au Natural – If you’ve got girls, you might just have found yourself with some easier subjects. But don’t worry, teenage boys can be photographed. Veee have vays of making them pose. I’m joking, of course. But as I said earlier, if you’ve got an uncooperative subject, resistance is likely futile. Let it go and try again another day, or catch your teen in an action shot (again, stealth is the key!).

If you have willing subjects, count yourself lucky. Adolescence is such a raw time, when we’re learning about our bodies, the world around us and our place in that world, and for that reason I personally like teen photos that are taken outside in a natural environment. An uncontrived photo of a teenager in simple, everyday clothes set against a natural backdrop is enough to make me wish I still had the luxury of worrying about who’s pashing who on neighbours. (That is, if young people still watch neighbours and if people still use the word “pashing”.) But if you want to funk things up a bit, you can add a prop to your photo (a funky chair or an old picture frame, for example), or a hobby-related object like a guitar or a golf stick.

Teen photography

Of course, you are not limited to these options, though. Mix them up and come up with your own creative ideas. In an age where you can easily take 200 photos and choose your favourite five, don’t be shy about experimenting (but remembering who you’re dealing with – the scorn of the dreaded teen can last for days or even weeks; you may need to practice your shots before you unleash them on the dragon). If your teenager has a hobby, catch them in an action shot (but if they’re still decapitating dolls, you might want to call the therapist). If you have kids of a mixed age range, it could be a laugh to catch them all in the same pose – your baby and toddler, child or teen could look great together as a picture of upward-gazing, round-eyed innocence, or playing with dolls in the garden, or swinging a golf stick.

 

Fun photos like these make great keepsakes because they are not only documents of your child’s life, but memories of a great day you’ve spent together. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – whatever you decide to do with your photos, make it a creative and fun experience for everyone involved!