Children Photography – How to take great kids photographs

Natural or Posed – what works best?

There is always a raging debate in the Wood household as to work works best ‘natural’ children’s pictures or ‘posed’ set-up shots./ In all truthfulness you can split out posed from set-up shots but I like to group the two together as I am a little biased.

My preference when taking children’s portraits is to use location based natural shots as I find that providing children with a location they find interesting and stimulating allows them to relax and for their character to come out. Obviously choice comes down to parents when booking a portrait session and consideration needs to be given to:

  • Time of year (weather, how popular a location is, availability of shade, etc.)
  • Where the images are going to be displayed
  • Personal tastes
  • Available locations
  • Distance to travel

Choice of location is obviously critical and I look for nice open spaces where I can find clean backgrounds, some useful overhead shade (if it is summer) and some points of interest for the children so maintain their interest and happiness. It is a lovely idea to be able to scout a location in advance however this is not always possible so the ability to think on your feet is a must.

childrens photography


When arriving at the location It is a good idea to let the children explore and play before you unleash the camera – this helps them to relax and actually gives you a little time to scout around for good locations. If the sun is out I am looking for ways to limit the overhead light to avoid hotspots and glare. I find it a great idea to work out fun games to play so that I have a degree of control over the direction they are likely to be running – a couple of timed games against the clock works wonders and you can prepare a short route through the best light and against a lovely background.

I start by trying to gather a selection of natural shots where the children may be looking away from the camera and I try to shoot them from a range of exciting angles – don’t be caught out by always relying on your long 200mm lenses – mix it up a bit and get in close which helps to ‘animate’ the shots.

kids portraits

It is a lovely technique to setup your camera to fire in short bursts as you can provide the clients with some closely grouped images which is normally a guaranteed sell. Once you gathered a collection of relaxed informal shots then you can try to capture more posed frames with the children looking towards the camera. By this stage you should have built up some trust and if your previous games were any good you can normal leverage a little bit of bribery by offering to play another round after the posed shots.

children on location photoskids photography on location

By the end of the session you should have a collection of great images which the parents will love, buy and want even more too share. Don’t be put off by grey skies as you can introduce some flash and shoot against a stunning cool background.

Shooting on location provides a great means of capturing natural and relaxed shots which is a great reminder of where families like to spend quality time together – get out there and practice and produce some wonderful images. If you would like to attend a course to help capture images such as those above why not come along to our lifestyle portrait course – for more information visit:

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