Pro­fes­sion­al fam­i­ly pho­tog­ra­phers and par­ents who pho­to­graph their chil­dren know how dif­fi­cult it can be. Not all kids behave in front of the cam­era the way adults would like. It is espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult to make a child smile. If the baby is not in the mood or does not like being pho­tographed, you will have to be smart.

There are some tips that can work if the child is not smil­ing at the pho­to shoot. Let’s start with rec­om­men­da­tions for par­ents who film their chil­dren on phones or semi-pro­fes­sion­al cam­eras.

How to pho­to­graph a hap­py child: tips for par­ents
Shoot so that the child does not under­stand
Pit­falls of stag­ing
Suck­er Punch
Pho­to ses­sion with a pro­fes­sion­al: how a pho­tog­ra­ph­er should behave
Cre­ate a relaxed atmos­phere
Pre­pare some chil­dren’s jokes
What else might work

Source: keenan-law.com

How to photograph a happy child: tips for parents

More resource­ful and artis­tic adults quick­ly find con­tact with chil­dren, start­ing to fool around with them. You can make faces and talk in a fun­ny car­toon voice. Turn on your inge­nu­ity and do not be ashamed of your­self — your child will sure­ly like your unpre­dictable behav­ior.

Try telling your baby that you are hun­gry and want soup. But not sim­ple, but fab­u­lous, made from fic­tion­al ingre­di­ents. And dream up with your child what his recipe is. While the baby will fer­vent­ly par­tic­i­pate in this word game, have time to catch the good moments by releas­ing the shut­ter.

The fun­ni­est and weird­est antics with kids work best. Expe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­phers who reg­u­lar­ly encounter babies at work know how to behave relaxed­ly, and this is already half the bat­tle.

Shoot so that the child does not understand

Hid­den pho­tog­ra­phy is a tricky but work­ing tech­nique. Try to shoot the baby dis­creet­ly so that he does not even under­stand this. The child can do his own thing or just sit and watch TV with enthu­si­asm. Your task as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er is to catch good moments and cap­ture sin­cere and pos­i­tive emo­tions in the pho­to.

Engage your child in some­thing and cap­ture the moment by pho­tograph­ing him doing his favorite activ­i­ty. Source: pixabay.com

Pitfalls of staging

Staged shoot­ing can be a bad idea. If you forcibly put a child in a pile of toys, and he sits among them with a sour face, you are unlike­ly to get cheer­ful pic­tures. Inex­pe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­phers take just such typ­i­cal shots. Your task is to cap­ti­vate the baby with some­thing and watch him, and at the most appro­pri­ate moments take pic­tures with­out dis­tract­ing the child from his affairs.

If you came to a fam­i­ly pho­to ses­sion, you can take the child with an excit­ing game. The choice of game depends on the age of the child. With the small­est, you can play peek-a-boo, cov­er­ing your face with your palms. With old­er chil­dren, you can throw a ball or assem­ble a design­er.

Sucker Punch

This may not be very fair, but if your child is tick­lish, use that to your advan­tage. A sin­cere smile instant­ly appears on the face, and then the child can laugh out loud, or even start rolling on the floor. Focus on how the baby tol­er­ates tick­ling. There are chil­dren who begin to get ner­vous or cry.

Tick­ling is a very insid­i­ous, but effec­tive tech­nique that helps to quick­ly cheer up the baby. Source: www.piqsels.com

Photo session with a professional: how a photographer should behave

Many kids who get into a stu­dio or oth­er room with a stranger become iso­lat­ed and com­plete­ly for­get about the fun. The task of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er is to win over the child. Cre­ate the atmos­phere you want — chat with the baby, show him what is in the stu­dio room. Make sure that the child is com­fort­able — joke, laugh with the baby, smile, tease, ask stu­pid ques­tions. Chil­dren are cap­ti­vat­ed when they are not treat­ed with con­de­scen­sion or lisp­ing, but as with equals.

It is impor­tant to achieve easy com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and then the child will become more open and begin to trust an unfa­mil­iar pho­tog­ra­ph­er. The main thing is not to over­do it, oth­er­wise you can get the oppo­site effect.

To main­tain a relaxed atmos­phere, you do not need to fol­low the chil­dren around with a cam­era and shoot their every step. If you hang too much and pay too much atten­tion to the child, he may with­draw. After that, you can’t just per­suade him to smile.

Create a relaxed atmosphere

Tell the child how long the shoot­ing will last, show the pho­to zone, tell about your­self and what the cam­era is and how it works. Any tricks that will help to find a com­mon lan­guage and estab­lish con­tact will do. All this will take no more than 10–15 min­utes, but it will great­ly facil­i­tate the work. The child will get used to it a lit­tle and calm down if he was wor­ried before being in an unfa­mil­iar place. It may awak­en curios­i­ty about what is hap­pen­ing.

No one can eas­i­ly dis­tract a child like his mom or dad. Source: maxpixel.net

Joint view­ing of footage helps to relax the chil­dren a lit­tle. After a series of pho­tos, show them to your baby. This will take a few sec­onds, but will help to attract the atten­tion of a fid­get.

Prepare some children’s jokes

A pho­tog­ra­ph­er, at least occa­sion­al­ly work­ing with chil­dren, must pre­pare chil­dren’s jokes and jokes in advance. You can look them up online or come up with your own. For exam­ple, talk about how you bought sausage-fla­vored ice cream at the store or any oth­er ridicu­lous sto­ry that your child will be delight­ed with.

What else might work

If the child is old­er than 5–6 years old, ask him to laugh and show how you do it your­self. When a child starts to laugh in an act of laugh­ter, sup­port him with your laugh­ter — he will like it, and he will laugh even more, but for real. The main thing here is to catch the moment when fake laugh­ter turns into sin­cere fun.

Have you heard of reverse psy­chol­o­gy? It works great for kids. If you need to con­vince the baby to do some­thing that he does not want, ask him about the oppo­site. Need a baby to smile? So stop him from doing it. The main thing is that it should not be a strict ban. Let the child under­stand that you are jok­ing and play­ing with him: “Do not try to smile, no, no, you can’t, by no means …”. The oppo­site effect will work and in a sec­ond or two it will be dif­fi­cult for the child to restrain a smile and loud laugh­ter.


Both par­ents and pho­tog­ra­phers should be aware that the phras­es “say cheese” or “smile” do not work with chil­dren. They don’t always work with adults either. Each child needs to find an approach. One can be amused with a cou­ple of jokes, and in front of the oth­er one will have to gri­mace and dance in order to squeeze out at least a slight smile. The main thing — do not hide your emo­tions and do not be afraid to look stu­pid, and then you will quick­ly find a com­mon lan­guage with the baby.