photographing 5 year oldsWow, five-year-olds get their own article for photography tips? Believe me, if you’ve spent any time photographing five-year-olds and you’ll know that they have their own special set of challenges, ones that can be difficult to overcome if you want to get quality photos without resorting to hiring a professional child photographer every time you want a photo! With that in mind, here are some tips for photographing your five year old and capturing great images.

Tip One: Manage Energy Levels

Five-year-olds have a lot of energy, so there’s no way you are going to get them to stay still long enough for a posed photograph. The best approach is to plan your shoot for after an activity like soccer, swimming, or playing at the park. Once they are appropriately worn out (and ideally, fed)  it should be easier to get them to cooperate. If that doesn’t work or its an impromptu shoot, I find that if I have a huge cup of tea and about 3 energy bars I can keep up with them – they won’t slow down  so it is best to just go with it and capture the energy!

Bonus Tip: The faster the five year old, the faster the shutter speed! Use action mode if you are unsure.

photographings five year oldsTip Two: Funny Faces

Kids at this age love making faces, so much so that you may look back at your photos of your five-year-old and have a hard time finding one with an authentic smile or neutral expression. The key is to get them distracted with an activity and then try to catch them when they look up at you. That, or let them get all the funny faces out of their system first, so you can get some sincere smiles later or in between the fake grins.

Tip Three: Interaction

You will get the most direct and sincere looks if you can interact with your child while you are taking photos. Ask them about their favorite story, what they did today, or ask them about an upcoming holiday or event, and then snap away while they answer you. If there’s another person around you can have them interact with your child and can take shots just off to the side so they are less put off by the camera lens.

photographing five year oldsTip Four: Fantasy and Play

Kids have fantastic imaginations, and love to role play. Make a boring photo shoot fun by having them dress up in costume and get into character. Fairies, princesses, pirates, and superheroes are great fantasy shoot ideas, plus they probably already have at least a few costumes. For a change up, you can also let your child dress up as mommy or daddy, which of course they will think is hilarious.  Hide and seek is also a great game to play – especially if you are able to catch their reactions when you find them! One of the keys to photographing your five-year-old is to keep changing the game, before it gets boring.

Tip Five: Sidelines

Catch your child at the park, playing soccer, or just keeping busy with a good zoom lens and decent timing. While these may not be formal shots, sometimes they are better as you get a glimpse into their world and let their true personalities and idiosyncrasies shine. Just to let them play while you take photos, which offers a nice break from the “bossy” shots (as they would call them).

Of course, all the tips in the world might not be enough to capture that “perfect” photo of your five-year-old if you just haven’t had the time to learn enough  photography tips and tricks. If this is the case, consider a kid’s photography workshop to learn the keys to fantastic kid’s photography. The more you know, the easier photographing your five-year-old will be!


It’s nice to, at least once per year, get your family together for a nice portrait photo – but if you’ve ever tried it you’ll understand that it can be a delicate balance of patience and planning. Since the holidays are coming up when you’re all together, here are a few tips:

Know your Camera

Half of the frustration of family portrait photography is getting the settings right – so spend some time with your camera before you head out for your photography session! Learn how to set shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc. as well as the timer on your camera – it will save you time and result in happy photos, rather that tired and cranky kids who just want to get it over with!

Pre-Scout a Great Family Portrait Location

What location works best for your family portrait? What you really want to ask yourself is what location will best suit your family? Is it the park, the beach, somewhere fun, or somewhere relaxed? A walk in the park, a picnic, or even just a brick wall can be a great location if it suits your family’s personality. But the important thing is to scout beforehand and know exactly what type of weather and time of day is going to work best for your photos.

There’s also nothing wrong with a nice family-room photo, if getting out of the house isn’t on your agenda : )

tips for family portrait photography

Time your Family Portrait Session Wisely

You’ve probably never thought about it, but the time of day that you choose to photograph at can make a huge difference to how your photos turn out. On a cloudy day it’s not quite as important as you’re dealing with even lighting, but on sunny days an overhead sun is going to cause some significant shadows, as well as squinty eyes. Aim for late afternoon or early morning – you’ll get softer light and better colors.

Dress for Success

A coordinated look for your family portrait helps it look more like, well like a portrait, and less like a candid, haphazard photo. Choose light colors combined with white and khaki to create a cohesive image, but don’t aim for a perfect match or it looks a bit cheesy. It’s also a good idea to stay clear of noticeable patterns and shirts with logos on them, as they draw too much attention away from the focus of the image – your family.

tips for family portrait photography

Keep it Simple

You don’t need fancy lights, or even really a fancy background to make a great family photo – all you need is your family! Eliminating distractions can help too, which is why it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in the background to ensure that the focus is on your family. A large aperture can help to blur out some of the background details, but if there’s a lot going on you might be better off finding a new location.

Do you have any family portrait tips (or horror stories) that you would like to share? Please do!



Have you ever considered where your child is looking when you take a portrait photo? Doing so, and consciously changing your shot depending on the type of effect you are looking for can drastically change the mood and appeal of your photos. Here are a few types of kid’s portrait poses you’ll encounter and how they communicate to your viewer:

gaze in children's portraitsKids’ Portraits: Looking Away

This is probably the easiest type of kids’ portrait, since kids are pretty much always never looking where you want them to. The trick is to capture images where they are gazing at something (or you could imagine they are) as this adds interest to the photo.

Secondly, you can choose to include the object of their gaze and make it a counterpoint to your image, or leave it as a mystery; we suggest trying both methods (or cropping later) to see which provides the most interesting photo.

Examples to try:

–          Holding a prop (frog, ball, toy, etc.) and gazing at the prop in their hands

–          Gazing out the window (experiment with different settings, weather outside)

–          Staring out towards the horizon

–          Looking at something else: a barn, building, car, dog, whatever captures their interest!

using gaze in kid's portrait tipsKids’ Portraits: Gazing at the Camera

Close up portraits with your child gazing directly at the camera can create a compelling photo, one that’s impossible to resist. For this type of photo to work, you have to get perfect focus on the eyes, as that’s your focal point. You can try this type of photo with a centered subject, or use the rule of thirds to add more interest.

Now, depending on your child’s age this task may be easier said than done. You’ll have to employ a few tricks to get them to gaze right into the camera, and you’ll have to be ready when they do. It can help to have them get used to the camera, get them talking, establish a connection through the camera.

using gaze in kid's photo tipsKids’ Portraits: Who Knows?

We spend a lot of time and energy capturing kids’ portraits with them looking at the camera – but what about portraits where they’re walking away, or gazing out away from you? Because these photos aren’t the norm they are sometimes more compelling that traditional children’s portraits. So give it a try! In many cases, taking photos where you don’t know where your subject is gazing will be an easier shot to get than some of the other gazes, so when dealing with a difficult toddler (or teen) you can be certain that this style of shot will likely work out.

Playing with the gaze is a lot like other aspects of kid’s photography – sometimes you’ll love a new technique, sometimes you won’t. But first, you have to try!


Photoshoots are great, but unless you plan one on a monthly basis you’ll need to find a way to incorporate everyday family photography into your life. Fortunately, lifestyle or everyday family photography is fairly easy to incorporate into your day, if you have a few tools under your belt:

Tip #1: Phone or Camera?

Yes, Smartphone cameras are improving dramatically, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to use a good camera when you have the opportunity. Camera photos, particularly DSLR or mirrorless images, are crisper, clearer, and will give you a consistently better final product.

So, if you don’t already, it might be time to invest in an entry-level camera and a few lenses, as well as a bag so you can keep it handy.

Extra Tip: If you do plan to use your smartphone (perhaps when it’s too cumbersome to carry your camera all the time), check out the options it can offer. Some higher-end phone cameras have similar capabilities to a more advanced camera – such as adjusting ISO, exposure, shutter speed, etc.

Tip #2: Preparation is Key

You can’t expect to take great every day photos if your camera is not always ready for you! It might mean swapping out batteries on a daily basis so there’s always a fresh one in your camera waiting for use. Always have your camera bag packed as well, so you have no excuse not to grab it on your way out the door.

everyday family photographyTip #3: Not just Faces

If you’re accustomed to portraiture, then everyday photography might present a new challenge – stepping back and taking in the details. This strategy can take some getting used to, but initially you’re just looking to capture images of your family doing what they do – cooking, cleaning, playing, reading, running, etc.

You can also choose to focus on details: little hands holding a cookie, a smile, paint on the paper, making a message with Cheerios, anything that you think would make a great photo.

Tip #4: Find the Light

Natural light is a photographer’s best friend, and means you’ll have one less thing to worry about when it comes to composing your family lifestyle portrait or choosing settings. If you find yourself with blurry images, you might need more light to compensate. Ideally, try to find more ways to let light in the room (whether through windows or with lamps) before you thing about using flash.

everyday family photographyTip #5: All the Angles

Eye-level is a typical (and good) way to approach a photo, but it’s not the only way to take a family portrait or lifestyles photo. Photos from below or above will provide a different perspective. By being different than typical family photos, you’ll bring more attention to what’s in the frame.

You can start by looking for opportunities for a different perspective: a hill your family can climb, a playground, the top of some stairs, even the second floor of your home, looking up or down.

Tip #6: Family Fun

Typically the best family photo moments happen candidly and organically, but this might not always coincide with you having a camera on hand. So you might have to stage the image just a little, while still creating a natural (not posed) image. Some suggestions include:

  • Making family dinner
  • Game night
  • Playing soccer
  • Painting
  • Playing with friends/siblings/cousins
  • Going to the park
  • Exploring the woods
  • Visiting another town
  • Going to the beach

Remember, all you need for a great family lifestyle photo is for everyone to be having a good time, although sometimes the photos when they do not have fun turn out to be the most memorable!

Tip #7: Practice Makes Perfect!

Don’t be discouraged if your first few everyday family photos aren’t perfect. Keep in mind that you are a) learning a new skill and b) still capturing the fun and memorable moments of your family’s life. Continue to practice and you’ll see immediate improvement in your craft, guaranteed. Of course, we can help you find the skills you need with a kids photography workshop if you’re looking for quick improvement!


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