Whether you want to capture a portrait style picture of a child, or want to document the frenetic activities of a kids party, there are a few basic tips that will help you get the shot you want.

Distractions in formal shots

Remove the ones you don’t want and create the ones you do! Turn off the telly, put the pets in a different room, keep sweets well out of sight and then get out a great toy such as colourful puppet or squeaky toy depending on the age of the child that will catch their attention while you take a shot!

Top TipUsing a tripod and a shutter release cable will enable you to move around and engage with the child, creating a more relaxed atmosphere, and ultimately a better picture.


Keep the background clutter-free or opt for a short depth of field so that the background is out of focus. This is important with most portrait photography (unless the background provides context) so as not to distract from the subject.


To get the most out of picture as well as to get the best from the child, you will need to get down on their level with them. No shooting from above unless that is the look you are going for! Get them looking directly into the camera, or go for angles where they are looking down into the camera for an alternative aesthetic.

Top TipIt’s all about the eyes! Make sure the eyes are in focus, and try and grab their visual attention for really engaging results.


Basic lighting rules apply – soft diffused light, no flash, shoot in the morning or afternoon if outdoors. Remember to light from the front to minimise shadow, or at an angle to get more depth. If you can’t avoid harsh midday sun, move the photo session into the shade, or have the sun behind the child to avoid squinting and harsh shadows.

Shutter Speed

For children’s parties you want to think like a sports photographer, because even if the subject of the photo is still, you can guarantee that another child will be moving about. As such, a fast shutter speed is ideal, which means more light will be needed! To avoid using a flash, adjust your aperture as required.

RememberA large aperture lets in more light, but reduces the focal length so that less of the image will be in focus at any one time. In a party situation that means choosing a fine balance between shutter speed (the higher it is the less motion blur, but the quicker it releases so less light comes in) and focal length (the more of the image that is in focus, the smaller the aperture, therefore the less light coming in).

Bribery, flattery and an interest in photography

If there is a special shot you want, a spot of bribery can go a long way. Rewarding a child that has been patient enough to pose for photos is only fair in my opinion, but I have noticed that many like to be the centre of attention anyway, and it doesn’t get much more attentive than a photo shoot! Show them the pictures as you take them, let them see the effects of their great work, and allow them a few shots of their own pulling faces and you can guarantee their interest will bring them back for more posing another day!

Above all – be patient!

We look forward to seeing your shots!

Photos courtesy of Rachel, Simon, Krista and Tammi

posted December 21st, 2012
Great shots!
posted December 22nd, 2012
Love shot #2. Thanks for posting this
posted January 9th, 2013
Thanks for sharing - great shots!!
posted October 9th, 2013
great info. I'll be taking a bunch of photos of my not-so-newborn baby this year and these tips are helpful
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