Capturing a child's image and personality on camera requires patience, playfulness, and a bit of knowledge about child photography poses. There are traditional photography posing ideas, and then there are spontaneous poses which ultimately depend on the willingness of the child. A photographer should have a few tried and true poses to use in a photo shoot with a child and should also be ready to take photos when the child is relaxed, at play, or even crying. These candid moments often produce the best shots of the day.
Children's Portrait Poses
There are many conventional portraiture poses that can be used for photographing children. The youthful subjects might have their heads straightforward or tilted; they might be touching their face or have their hands in their laps. Details aside, these child photography poses create a formal, classic picture.
Indoor, Forward Facing Portraits
Based on a baby's age and level of development, his or her ability to communicate and cooperate with a photographer will vary.
- Babies and very young toddlers will have some trouble with body control, making pose manipulation tricky
- For really young babies it is best to have flooring and safe structures for resting them on to make up for their lack of control
- Studio props can be cropped out in the editing process if necessary
For older children, you can work with them to achieve the perfect pose. The forward facing portrait is often used by professional studios and school photographers, and uses these steps:
- Have the child sit on a stool or the ground and directly face the camera
- With still poses, use a matte-board or background textile that matches the child's attire
- Try to make a child comfortable
- Have her fold her hands in her lap and position her head so she is naturally looking into the lens
- Slightly adjust her chin down toward the ground which will open up her eyes for the camera
- A gentle smile is usually used for this pose
Indoor, Angled Portraits
In photography, angles and diagonals bring movement to a photo. Adding an angled "movement" to a child's portrait spices up the forward facing pose and has the potential to invoke a more playful smile.
- Position the child on a stool with her shoulders at a 90 degree angle from the camera and have her turn her head toward the lens
- Hands should be folded on the forward-most thigh
- A gentle smile is best
Early morning and late afternoon are known as the "golden hour" and is best for natural light photography, which is a very productive light in capturing a child's spirit.
- Dusk produces golden hues and long shadows to capture dramatic shots
- Outdoor shoots, whether in a backyard, park, or play yard give the child activities to focus on, freedom to explore, and offer many different poses and expressions
- Sit the child on a park bench, swing, grassy patch, or slide and have her smile big for the camera. This pose is a bit more playful than the time-honored indoor portrait pose.
Posing with Props
Surrounding a child in flowers, sporting equipment, billowy material and/or pillows is a common way of using props. Because each child has different hobbies, tastes, and styles, it is important to talk with caregivers before the shoot. Connect with your subject during a play date or preliminary consultation to familiarize yourself with her personality and you'll know what photography props to have at the ready. Children tend to be most comfortable with their own toys, but sometimes the photographer might introduce a new item that could invoke a reaction for the camera.
Candid and Spontaneous Photographs
The beauty of children is they're always doing something cute, so don't think too much - just shoot! Though plans might be made for a posed photo session the lens loves spontaneity, and a good photographer learns to anticipate and capture a short-lived response from his subject. Children have short attention spans and they move quickly so the use of action photography tactics might be necessary. Because there are so many options for posing children, often the best thing to do is shoot a full series that includes posed and non-posed shots. This will help to ensure a handful of possibilities for the final images.