some things I've learned : photographing kids!

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I had several people ask for tips with photographing children, so I want to tackle this topic today!!
Taking pictures of kids can feel overwhelming at times, and I definitely don't consider myself an expert.
However, few things are rewarding like getting a "money" shot of a child, and makes all the effort worth it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are 6 tips that I have learned over the years in this area. :)

+ Shoot when they're not expecting it. Often when I am posing kids they go into this standard 'cheese-y' smile because they think that is what they're supposed to do..and instead I'm wanting a genuine LAUGHTER filled smile, or more serene expression.
So practice catching those in-between moments when they aren't realizing you are about to take their picture!

This photo I shot after we had just done some grouped family shots and were walking down the grassy path..
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Same thing here, Elizabeth had just walked out of the house and was coming towards me.
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Also occasionally when you pose kids they will have great expressions naturally..for this shot I had just told Ellington to plop down on the cement slab and he was just staring at me. I loved his soft face so didn't tell him to smile or anything.
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+ Get on their level. Every kid is different and I know this is obvious, but I think it is important to realize that not every 'trick' will have the same effect. Some children are really quiet, and it takes a lot to come out of their shell. Others will talk your ear off once you get them going! :) Feel them out if you are just meeting at the shoot. Remember how trust has to be earned and you wouldn't pour out your whole life story to a complete stranger! Ask them questions -- "what do you like to play with? do you have dolls? have you seen Frozen?! I love Olaf TOO!!" Make a connection so they see you as a friend and not this weird girl sticking a black box in their face. ;)

+ Show them what to do. If I'm wanting a more 'serene' face and they aren't getting it, I will show them by saying "Katie, can you put your lips together like mine [shows them with my face] and look into my camera?" Or if I'm wanting a genuine smile sometimes I ask if they can do a crazy laugh. And then first demonstrate by going "mwahaha!! HO-HO-HO" etc.
If I want them to do something silly then I need to lead by example. :)

+ Bribe. I now have a rule of always bringing smarties or bottlecaps (candy that doesn't smear like chocolate) with me whenever I have a shoot with kids, and I only use it if I have to. Some shoots the kids don't even know I have it, but other times they need a little motivation..and I make them work for it! For this shot, I wanted Jillian to twirl around and she wasn't cooperating. So I showed her the smarties and told her if she twirled around she would get the candy! Boom. 
Also I sometimes use 'distraction' toys for a bribe like a handbell or once I brought a toy camera, and the children loved it. Whatever works!
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+ Interaction. This is probably the biggest tip I have with kids..you have to make pictures FUN and interesting for them! Have them run, skip, ask them to tell you a funny joke. Set them up in a pose and then say "hey I want you to look over that way [points with finger] -- do you see any deer over in the woods?" Sometimes I tell them stories..for this shot of Kaitlyn + John, I was telling them a made up story about horses that lived in the barn behind them. It really captured their attention and they sat there for a good amount of time just listening.
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I adore this shot of Harper.
She had been sitting on some wooden steps and we were talking and then moved off of those to this spot...
I caught this image when she suddenly lit up about something.
Haha I don't remember what it was now, but I think what helped achieve it was just talking and waiting for the moment.
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+ Use parents. If all else fails, use Mom and Dad. They know how to make their kids light up or soothe them. At this shoot Aoife was being pretty clingy, and I knew she wouldn't be a fan if I tried to force her to sit somewhere away from Mom.
Make magic with whatever you've got!
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I hope this was helpful! If you have more questions feel free to ask them in the comments below!!

Hannah Elise
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  1. "However, few things are rewarding like getting a "money" shot of a child, and makes all the effort worth it." - amen! Thank you so much for sharing these tips, Hannah! The images are so genuine + perfect for the post, too. :) Have a fantastic Thursday and thanks again!

  2. These are gorgeous shots, Hannah! I am pinning your post for later... I have always loved capturing children and their unique expressions and I know your post will be very helpful!
    Hugs to you,

  3. These tips are wonderful! I shall go write them down!! Thanks, Hannah! ♡

  4. Thank you so much for sharing, Hannah! :) This was really helpful. Loving the Ten Day Tandem so far!



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