Photographing kids – Tapping into your inner child

How to photograph children photography tips paris portrait paris photographer happy carla coulson photography school

All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

I love photographing kids. When I started out in photography one of the true joys was taking photos of my nieces and nephews.

We made an occasion of it, whatever they wanted to do, we did. We went to the pool, played on the swings, played dress ups and I chased them around shooting them. I even bought an underwater camera so the pool became more fun for all of us.

Though most of my portrait clients are women, every now and then I have the pleasure of photographing them with their children and I have the fun of being a child again.

These mornings are fun, fast and furious, full of loads of laughs and lots of energy and the parents contribute in a giant way to making the pics great.

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Here are some of my tips:

1. Have some ‘fun stuff ‘ in your kit bag that the child and parents can interact with. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, I often use bubbles, feathers, chalk, blackboards, fairy floss, boats, books, cameras and balloons.

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2. On a recent shoot I kept bringing the ‘fun stuff’ out just one piece at a time and the little girl kept clapping her hands together saying ‘more fun stuff please’.

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3. Go somewhere they are going to be free to roam and to have fun such as a park, a beach, or a playground.

How to photograph children photography tips paris portrait paris photographer happy carla coulson photography school mother and son

4. All children have different personalities, approach them like you are the ‘horse whisperer’ to understand who they are and then work your photography around them.

How to photograph children photography tips paris portrait paris photographer happy carla coulson photography school mother and son

5. It’s going to be fast and furious so have a big brekkie cause these little guys are full of beans but after about 2 hours thing are bound to go belly up!

How to photograph children photography tips paris portrait paris photographer happy carla coulson photography school mother and daughter

6. Don’t ask children to smile all the time. We live in an age where children are constantly photographed and they often revert to a big cheesy grin which looks fake in the camera.

How to photograph children photography tips paris portrait paris photographer happy carla coulson photography school mother and daughter

7. Remember moments like when you were a child, the first time you tried your mother’s lipstick and the excitement that it brought. Something like this can create great energy between a mother and a daughter.

How to photograph children photography tips paris portrait paris photographer happy carla coulson photography school mother and daughter

8. Go for some classic portraits for sure. I also love when the energy is between the parents and the child and they are not always looking directly into the camera and they are interacting with each other. Their body language is really important, turn them towards each other and not towards the camera.

How to photograph children photography tips paris portrait paris photographer happy carla coulson photography school mother and son

9. There are going to be moments when it goes pear shaped. Some of the nicest photos I have taken are when a mother is comforting her child. Work around them if they are crying, ask the mother to hold the child so as you aren’t seeing their face (I am sounding like Vivian Maier right now).

How to photograph children photography tips paris portrait paris photographer happy carla coulson photography school mother and daughter

10. Think about the backdrop and get the subjects in position before you pull out the ‘fun stuff’ and let them do what they want.

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11. If the kids want to go to the beach, take their cossies, boogie boards, goggles and shoot them doing what they love. If the parents want them in their ‘good clothes’ ask them to bring some ‘real’ clothes too so once you have the pics you need. Let them have fun and you will probably get the best pics of the day.

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12. Parents often have games they play with their children, like twirlies, or hopscotch or have fun ways to get them out of a bad mood. Ask them to do this when the energy is dropping a little too low.

How to photograph children photography tips paris portrait paris photographer happy carla coulson photography school

All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson

The most important ingredient is to let your inner child out and have fun and they will too.

“Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye – it is very beautiful.??? Kailash Satyarthi

Carla x

Check out my Portrait Lightroom Presets here.

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