A (Very) Simple Beginner’s Guide to Taking Portraits of Children

by SomeGirl on June 28, 2011 · 5 comments

While I prefer candid shots of children doing things they enjoy, I realize that some people (family in particular) would like to have posed pictures to frame.

So, at the request of a friend, here are a few tips for shooting portrait photos of your children (or grandchildren)…

(For this experiment I switched from my 50 mm lens to a more wide angle 17-85 mm lens.)

Turn your camera on its side to take vertical shots (most frames for portraits are taller than they are wide).


Determine whether or not you would like to have your child standing or sitting. In this case, I chose standing.

For better background and lighting I’d encourage you to shoot your portrait shots outdoors.

Let me interject here, that I am definitely a beginner at taking portrait photos…

I’ll confess I had no idea what to do as far as posing goes, so I just asked my oldest one to stand still and look at me a minute (and added a brief plea for him to do this for me since I do so many nice things for him… he finally gave in). ;)

As you can see, he chose to lean against a tree.

I started by capturing his entire body in the shot (setting my lens to its widest angle of 17mm, and the fstop or aperture to 4 to put more focus on him and less to the background).


In photoshop, I cropped the photo above to include my son’s whole body and less of the background. (Keep in mind that some of the edge of the photo may be covered by a frame.)


I personally like that he’s wearing his favorite pants, his silly bands, and his flip flops … him, just the way he is, most days. :)

To get a more natural smile I borrowed a tip from my husband’s stock photography sessions. Instead of asking him to say cheese, I asked him to laugh a bit or simply say, “Ha ha ha,” which usually causes the person saying it to smile.

Next I zoomed in with my lens to get more of a “waist up” view… again asking for a laugh.

And, to top it all of, I zoomed in a bit more to get something more like a school portrait shot.



In between each shot I let him move around as he felt comfortable and asked him to look my way and laugh a bit.


Well, there you have it: a (very) simple beginner’s guide to taking portraits of children. I hope it helps a bit. :)

I’d LOVE to hear your suggestions in the comment section below. Do you have something that really works for you? (There are some good tips down below already, and even one I forgot to mention about checking your background. If you have a chance, check them out!) :)


Keep in mind, pictures in frames make GREAT Christmas presents… and believe it or not, Christmas will be here before we know it! ;)


Btw, it was great to see some of you guys join the SomeGirl’s Photo Assignments flickr group for last week’s assignment: eyes. If you haven’t joined or added your photos to the group yet, please do! Remember: once you join, you need to add your photos to the group for them to be seen by us all. :)

For this week’s assignment, I’d LOVE to see your portrait shots!

Wow!! SomeGirl’s Website’s FB page is just 6 likes away from 800… anyone (or any 6 ones) want to bump up the number and spur on a giveaway?? :) Just click here and then click the like button at the top of the FB page. :) Once we hit 800 we’ll celebrate here with some sort of giveaway! Whoop!




I love the natural poses in a natural setting. I know even less about cameras than you and I’ve done my kids’ photo shoots the last 2 years, at a local park where DH and I had a picnic on my 16th birthday, and also where we had our rehearsal dinner. They turn out GREAT!

In a pinch, candy makes a great bribe ;)


I try and make sure nothing looks like it is sticking out of their head (like a tree branch or light pole). That was a tip my ex-Navy Photographer dad taught me :). I also try to find some word or funny phrase that will make them laugh. I say it as I take the pictures. Laughing a little tends to make great smiles and brighten up their eyes.

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies

Our family tries to catch America’s Funniest Videos at least once a month and we have a few videos (and sayings from videos) that bring out a laugh or a smile when I mention them. I pull one of those out of my back pocket when my kids start giving me the forced smile face.

Sarah Vaughan

Some things I try to keep in mind just for portraits in general is not to have their bodies facing straight on, but to have them at an angle, like it the pics above. Also, if it’s a family or group portrait, scrunch everyone in close together and have them stand at an angle to the camera, too. That way, you can fit everyone in the picture without having to back up 500 feet, and it gives the impression that everyone likes each other! LOL I’ve taken too many “American Gothic” portraits to figure this out :) Thanks for the post!


I like the picture of you taking a picture. ;) Great photos, Michelle. And, yes, Christmas will be here before you know it.

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