Photographing siblings: How to secure the perfect family portrait

Have you recently welcomed a new addition to the family? If so, congratulations!

I’d urge you to take lots of photographs of your baby to record this magical time (but then I would say that, wouldn’t I)!

The newborn stage passes by in a flash, and I truly believe that photos are the best way to capture these fleeting, but oh so special, family moments.

Family portraits

Gorgeous kidsGorgeous kidsPerfect family photography

If this is your second (or third or fourth!) baby, you’ll likely want to also take family portraits. Photos of your children together are a lovely way of capturing your growing brood.

This is a lovely idea in practice. Yet it’s actually surprisingly difficult to get the perfect portrait when photographing children together.

So, with this in mind, I thought I would share with you today my top tips for photographing siblings together.

Photographing siblings

Young children with newbornYoung children with newbornGreat happy children cuddling their baby brother

As a professional newborn baby, child and family portrait photographer, I get to work with children of all ages, including babies as young as a few days old.

Believe me, I know how hard it can be to get children – whatever age – to stay still long enough for a photograph to be taken, or to all look at the camera at the same time. (I’ve even written a blog about it! See my tips for photographing reluctant children here).

The combination of baby and toddler is particularly challenging!

Ssssshhhhhhh Baby sleepingSsssshhhhhhh Baby sleepingNewborn baby fast asleep with her big sister protecting her. Yet while it can sometimes be tricky, some of my favourite family portraits are those of children that I have photographed together with their siblings.

In fact, I take a lot of photos of older kids with their newborn brothers or sisters in particular, as parents are usually keen for this type of shot if coming to me for a newborn photoshoot.

Four recommended poses to try at home

If you have a small baby and you’d like to photograph them with their older sibling(s), try these poses out for size.

A word of warning: always ensure that there is another adult close at hand and that your newborn baby is safe at all times.

While your toddler or older child may be enthusiastic about their younger sibling, there should be no risk of the baby being squashed, squeezed or dropped!

 

  1. Sit your older child in a chair or in the corner of a sofa then carefully place your newborn in their arms. Ensure that the baby’s head is supported and that the older child understands that they must sit still and hold the baby carefully. Photograph the older child either looking to camera, or down at the baby, ensuring the faces of both children can be seen.

Smile for the cameraSmile for the cameraToddler and Baby brother , older boy smiles whist the baby sleeps

         

  1. If your eldest is still young themselves, for example under 2 years old, then try laying the baby on your bed (use a white duvet or sheet to provide a neutral backdrop for the photo). Encourage your toddler to lie down alongside the baby. A good tip is to suggest to the toddler that they are playing ‘sleeping bunnies’ – this often proves useful to encourage their cooperation. Photograph the children lying together.  Bribery also works a treat! If necessary, bring out some dried snacks such as Cheerios or raisins. Put these on or near the baby to encourage the sibling to lay down or get close to baby. Get the portrait you are after as the toddler gets in close to the baby to retrieve the food!  

 

  1. Alternatively, swaddle your newborn and encourage their sibling to lay on the floor, preferably on a rug or throw. Place a pillow under their head, then position the baby next to the toddler on the floor. Take the photograph from above and try to get both children looking up at you. Use toys, rattles, clapping or call out their names to help with this.

SiblingsSiblingsThese sisters love their baby brother

  1. Finally, older siblings can place the newborn baby or younger child in their laps, or in front of them, and either gaze down lovingly at their brother/sister or both could be encouraged to look to the camera. 

SistersSistersloving Sisters forever

Make the photo experience fun!

Whichever of these poses work for you, you’ll achieve the best photographs when the older child or children are relaxed. Playing games with them is, therefore, a great way to ease them into the right mood.

Should they be refusing to cooperate, simply try to make the experience as fun as possible rather than getting cross if they don’t do what you want them to. 

What works for you?

Be sure to let me know which of these tips worked best for you. And if all else fails, and you decide that you’d like a professional family portrait, you know where to find me!

Until next time,

Karen x


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