Ten Tips: How to Break Photography Rules

BlogHer Original Post

We've all been there: You had a vision of the perfect photo of your kid and just when you have it all set up, they want nothing to do with you. You bribe them with candy, a trip to the ice cream store ... you threaten to take away privileges or worse. What do you get for all your efforts? A bunch of pictures of your kids looking sullen with their tongue stuck out. Or worse -- they're not in the photo at all.

Well, I'm here to rescue you. I'm not a professional photographer or anything, but I've been taking pictures of kids for years. Here are my top ten tips for making photo sessions fun for kids.

commercial for San Diego

1. Make an idiot of yourself. Kids love fart jokes. If you can let one rip or pretend to, you'll get that smile you wanted and their grandmother will never know. She'll just think your kids are delightfully charming and happy all the time. When the fart jokes get old (although they never do), move on to something even more stupid. Tell them their dad wears diapers and sucks his thumb. It'll be a laugh-fest. Just make sure you have your finger on that shutter button and snap away.

kickin' it

2. Shoot shoot shoot. Shoot a hundred pictures. You'll get at least one good one.


3. Get in the thick of the action. Get close. Shoot at weird angles. If they're in the water, get yourself a waterproof camera and dive in. If they're at the park, go down the slide with them. Cameras are expensive, but they're meant to be used. They don't get nice pictures sitting safely in your camera bag or on top of the refrigerator. Get close to your kids and play with them. Invest in a nice strap and always have your camera handy at your hip. Make sure you've got your settings ready at all times, because you never know when you might get that million dollar shot. Also, if you have your camera on you all the time, your kids will get used to it. Before you know it they'll be yelling at you to take their picture instead of running away from you when you pull it out.

on golden sands

4. Break the rules. Shoot into the sun. Shoot upside down. Shoot through your knees. Tilt the horizon. It's okay. Just because some teacher in your Photography 101 class told you to use the three-quarters rule when you frame a photo doesn't mean you have to. Those rules are made for people who have hours and hours to compose a shot. You don't. You have a kid who's active, so shoot away before you lose your shot.


5. Go ahead and photograph them when they are being bad. If it's a family portrait session and they're picking their nose, take that shot, too. Capture that moment when they kick their feet up in the air on stage and show off their panties. These are moments that make the best stories and you are going to want to remember them -- even if at the time you want to crawl under your chair and pretend they aren't your kids. These are the photos that will have you laughing into old age. Treasure them.


6. Make them chase you. Sometimes when my daughter has had it up to here with posing for photos, I tell her to try and catch me. I run backwards shooting her the whole time. Sure, it takes some coordination not to run into people behind me, but I get the best shots and it gets the wiggles out so she's more inclined to be still in other photos.


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