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Photographing Children Tips

 3rd May 2012


photographing children tipsWe all want great photos of our children and with digital it’s so easy to create a photo record of them as they grow.

This photographing children tip is a small excerpt from one of our Photographing Children videos where you can see me shooting all these images (and more) as I explain what I'm doing and why.

Photographing children presents its own unique challenges, especially when they’re little and unlikely to 'pose' quietly for you.

Personally I prefer not to pose children, I want to capture their personality.

One of the questions I'm always asked is...

Which lens should I use?

There’s no right or wrong lens for photographing children, but I suggest you choose a focal length and stick with it for a while, taking shots that work for that length because different focal lengths dramatically affect the way an image looks.

Once you’ve got some images you’re happy with, switch to a new focal length and look for images that work for the new chosen length.

If you’re unsure about this watch our Focal Length video which explains how different focal lengths do much more than just increase magnification.

Start with longer focal lengths like 150mm to 200mm or more. Longer lenses give you a narrow field of view so it’s easy to isolate your children from their surroundings. Use a long lens with a wide aperture like f5.6 and you get a lovely blurred background so your children really stand out.

photographing children with a long lens


Don’t keep zooming in and out.

Keep your lens set long and move yourself closer or further away to get your subject large or small in the image so you can  maintain the narrow field of view / blurry background. If you want your children to be small in the image you'll have to be a long way away from them.


I used a 200mm zoom to take this and had to move myself so far away that Tasha couldn't hear what I was saying to no matter how loudly I shouted. But it has the look I wanted.

Using a short / wide lens

Short focal lengths (known as wide) of up to 20mm will include more of the surroundings, have a greater depth of field and  feel intimate and close to the child.


Be careful with short focal length lenses because they can stretch and distort. Don’t try getting too close.

Where's the best place to photograph children?

Go somewhere your children will be engaged and interested in their surroundings, and do it at a time when they’re going to be wide awake and up for it. If they're cold tired and hungry you'll be on a hiding to nothing.

What's the best light for photographing children?

A lightly overcast day is best because there are no strong shadows. If this isn’t possible set up something interesting for the child somewhere in a big patch of open shade. I don't recommend photographing indoors because you'll probably need to use flash which is much too harsh unless you can find a way to soften it by bouncing off a reflector or use a home studio setup.

Look for small details:

Close up shots of hands and feet can tell a great story too.

Concentrate and don't rush:

Small children are unlikely to perform on demand. Some do, but mostly they're un-predictable and will change direction or lose interest very quickly. Be patient, keep the camera up to your eye with a shot composed and focused at all times so when something interesting happens like a fleeting expression or moody moment, you see it in the viewfinder and can press the button to capture it. I promise you it won't be there for long!



Happy shooting ...


Beautiful images of your children are only one tiny part of photography and you'll need camera skills to capture them. Have fun learning them with our easy going, non-techie photography videos.


Find out more

commasopencommascloseThanks for all the video tutorials. As a "new" photographer they are really helping me to learn how to avoid the auto settings on the camera and get a little creative.  

Kevin Portch 



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