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Russian Mother Elena Shumilova Shares Her Tips For Photographing Children

By Hanssie on May 5th 2015

Elena-Shumilova-2 With 60 million+ views, no doubt you’ve seen photos by Russian photographer Elena Shumilova. We featured her work last year in this article right as her images were going viral. Her documentation of her two sons, Yaroslav and Vanya, growing up, exploring and experiencing their childhood outside on their farm was nothing short of magical and captured the hearts of those who saw the images. With the masterful use of light, emotion and nostalgia, Elena created images of her sons as they are – carefree, wild, and happy.


A few years ago, Elena moved her family into the countryside, away from the noise of the city so that her boys could explore and experience life at a slower pace, closer to nature. The quieter life suited them well and Elena documented their everyday adventures. Now, Elena just welcomed her third son, Petr and for the first time, allowed the outside world in a little bit through this short film by Smugmug where she allows us a glimpse of her little farm in the country.



Elena-Shumilova-12In this first video, we get to see Elena at work, photographing her boys as they run around, being boys.

When it comes to creating my photos, it’s a balance of control over the situation, the story, the composition, and then losing that control and letting that situation play out naturally…I think we all need to see something real and to let the heroes act on their own.


Elena-Shumilova-10 Elena-Shumilova-11Since her photos went viral, you can imagine the amount of letters Elena has received asking her for advice and praising her work. In the second video, Elena shares 4 tips on photographing children, including how to get the kids to look natural and not posed, capturing kids of different ages, what types of clothes work the best, and photographing your kids with pets.

These tips (including a bonus 5th tip) is on the SmugMug blog where you can read more about Elena and see more of her wonderful work.

See more of Elena’s photos and buy prints:



CREDITS: All photographs shared by Elena Shumilova are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joyce Jackson


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  2. Brad Harberts

    I love telling a story with my kids as the main characters. This was a very inspiring post, thank you.

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  3. Marlin Woodruff

    Gorgeous work…

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  4. Thomas Horton

    In all but one of these photographs, the child is focusing on something else.. other than the camera. This, I feel is the key to many types of portraits. But especially with children. Get them to focus on something that interests them and you will capture something special.

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  5. Tosh Cuellar

    fantastic work

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  6. Duc Hong

    She and Adrian C. Murray ( are two of my favorites child photographers, they really know to nail the shot and make it dreamy

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  7. Daniil S

    I’d love to hear her talk Russian so I can better gauge what she’s saying. It would also be great if I could afford to move to country side so I can explore more photographic space than small apt in the middle of concrete jungle, alas, not all have those freedoms.

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  8. Brandon Dewey


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  9. Keith Starkey

    She’s the Thomas Kincade of Photography. It’s not that there aren’t other photographers of light, it’s that her final product evokes the same smell, taste and pleasure that Kincade’s paintings gave us.

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    • Thomas Horton

      “She’s the Thomas Kincade of Photography”

      No need to be insulting. :)

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    • Keith Starkey

      Yeah, yeah, I know: Kincade was thought of as a painter competent to that of the modern romance writers, but give a guy who loves Hallmark romance movies a break already!

      When I see certain Kincade paintings, I’m not looking at them for that refined, gourmet artistic hand. I’m looking at what immediately connects with me and makes me wish I could live in that peaceful, lack-of-war-and-hell world. Not every painter’s rendition of light does that for me. So, when I say that Elena is the Kincade of photography, I mean that her work connects with me that same sense of rest through her transmission of subject and light.

      Hey, when compared to fine art or high-end professional photography, Elena’s work is not of that gourmet hand, but her concept of subject and light, similar to Kincade’s, speaks volumes about peaceful rest I believe we all desire. For that, she is the Kincade of photography.

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  10. Mads Helmer Petersen

    Fantastic pictures – has seen the several places on the internet. Really looking forward to having kids :-)

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  11. Raul-Nicolae Giurgiu

    Amazing …

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  12. Ed Rhodes

    love those images. what great memories they’ll have

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  13. Tyler Friesen

    Amazing shots

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