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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Cute sitting baby girl in wooded bowl