When photographing a couple either during a portrait session, engagement or a wedding, posing and directing can be relatively easy as your subjects are likely to listen to you.. Once you add children to the mix, all of the rules change and a different approach is required. With lifestyle family portraiture having become so popular and continuing to grow, it helps to understand how to interact in those settings to make sure the images are great and the shoot is enjoyable. The video herein comes to you from CreativeLive and Seattle-based family photographer, Elena S Blair, and covers just that, and we’ve added some addition tips below.

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Photographing kids almost never goes the way you expect. Parents will tell you that they have the most well-behaved child in the world, but on that particular day it’s almost predictable they will decide to be uncooperative, or there will be one child who just isn’t into it. If you are in this situation you have to be flexible and roll with the punches.

The only way to make the session pleasant is with your own attitude. If you become stressed it will only exacerbate the situation. – But how do you do this?

Depending on the age they can be free radicals with short attention spans, and can become quite uncooperative, or simply not give you anything; they’re kids. The best thing to do is not rush or force the situation. Just keep playing and interacting with them and eventually they’ll come around.

When photographing families, I typically turn to my Tamron 24-70 f/2.8. The lens gives me the option to either step back from children who are shy and then come in closer as the child stars to relax and open up to the idea of being photographed.

When it comes to photographing families with children, traditional poses don’t often work. One tip you should try is making them play instead of pose. If a session looks like a fun game, chances are they will be less uncooperative, and if you let them be wild, you can capture more natural expressions from both the parents and the children.

Here are some other tips to try:

  • Get down to their level/bring them up to yours
  • Start with the essentials
  • Be Patient
  • Take a Break
  • Encourage Interaction
  • Let go of perfection

Letting go of the idea of perfection and letting the kids be kids is one of the best pieces of advice, so let the kids be themselves. This will, in turn, have let them have more fun, and the parents will have less stress. Forget about perfection and focus on the moments as they come. The more fun they’re having the more variety of shots you will have.

With some patience, fun and a bit encouragement kids usually open up and become themselves, showing you their personality and joy allowing you to photograph their genuine selves.