My top tips for photographing reluctant children

I was recently asked by the lovely people at Lifecake – the photography sharing app by Canon – to share my top tips for photographing reluctant children.

Having blogged for them previously (about cake smash photography), I was thrilled to be asked again!

So, have you ever tried to photograph a child who does NOT want to be photographed?

I presume you are nodding your head right now.  

Yes, it can be very difficult, for sure!

Photographing reluctant children

I have literally photographed thousands of children over the years and, believe me, not all of those have wanted to have their photo taken.

Delaying and avoidance tactics? You name it, I’ve seen it!

You could say that photographing reluctant children is a day to day occurrence for me.

Expert tips on photography reluctant children by Karen Wiltshire of KW PhotographyExpert tips on photography reluctant children by Karen Wiltshire of KW Photography

Over the years I’ve developed lots of coping strategies for handling even the most resistant children.

I often see parents getting stressed when their child doesn’t cooperate during a photoshoot. But there really is no point.

I always get the shot I am after eventually. If you heed my tips below you will too!

My three top tips

1. Be prepared to wait

While it can take time to get reluctant children to cooperate, you’ll usually be rewarded for your perseverance and persistence.

Don’t rush the child or make them feel under pressure to perform to the camera.

As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait!

Expert tips on photographing reluctant children by Karen Wiltshire of KW PhotographyExpert tips on photographing reluctant children by Karen Wiltshire of KW Photography

2. Let them explore the environment

Whether I’m photographing on location or in my photography studio, the setting is usually new to the child.

So I let the child get comfortable in the surroundings first, before attempting to take their portrait.   

I also often pull out props for younger children to climb on – chairs, a rocking horse, or a toy car for example.

When photographing reluctant children let the child explore their environment first, says Karen Wiltshire of KW PhotographyWhen photographing reluctant children let the child explore their environment first, says Karen Wiltshire of KW Photography

Toys such as teddies and softballs are also good to distract a reluctant child.

If outdoors, encourage them to find sticks or leaves, and run around for a while to burn off some energy before you attempt to take their portrait.

Tips for photographing reluctant children by Karen Wiltshire of KW PhotographyTips for photographing reluctant children by Karen Wiltshire of KW Photography

3. Make them laugh

If a young child is refusing to look at the camera or, worse, is crying or having a tantrum, I sing!

A quick rendition of ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ or ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’ usually induces a smile. Or at least a cursory glance.

And that’s despite my terrible singing voice!

Noisy toys – things that squeak, rattle or jingle - also work well to get them, at least, looking in the right direction. 

When photographing reluctant children, make them laugh recommends Karen Wiltshire of KW PhotographyMake a reluctant child smile or laugh to capture a great natural portrait

For lots more of my expert tips on photographing reluctant children please visit my blog on the Lifecake website.

Do also check out their brilliant free photo sharing app as well!

Finally, before you go, do let me know in the comments if any other tactics have worked particularly well for you. I'd love to hear from you. 

I hope you're enjoying the summer. Bye for now!

Karen x


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