Preparing for a photo shoot with children

When preparing for their shoots my clients often ask me for tips on what to wear and the best places to go for their sessions. Being a predominately lifestyle photographer I love to shoot outdoors and I don’t and never will use a studio. For me natural light and everyday activities produce the best images, especially with young families.

Firstly, know that young children are likely to cry and get annoyed with a camera in their face! This really is no surprise since it is not something they are used to. This is why it is so important to work around your child and not force them into any uncomfortable positions. Don’t apologise for a crying, fed up child; photographers of young children and babies are used to this! Instead make sure your chosen photographer has set aside a good amount of time for your session. Mine are generally 1.5-2 hours long, but for babies and young children it is often 2-3 hours. I only do one family session a day to ensure that you are my focus for that day. This may seem like a lengthly time period but allowing for breaks is necessary for a smooth photo shoot with this age group. Nappy changes, snacks, feeds or just time for some cuddles are all part of your everyday lives and so should continue during your shoot. There are also some great opportunities for natural shots during these breaks. During a recent break for a feed I captured a lovely image of a baby grasping their mother’s finger.


When it comes to what to wear try to avoid anything with logos or writing. Pastel or bold colours are great, depending on the look you are going for. This can of course be discussed with your photographer in advance. For babies there is nothing better than bare skin. Trust me, these are the images you will treasure most! Try not to dress your baby in clothes that are too big for them, this can really take the focus away from your little one. Instead go for simple things like a plain white vest.

I provide props such as nappy covers and headbands but I do really encourage my clients to use their own too. A favourite toy or teddy is meaningful as well as a great distraction for your child.

And if all else fails have lots of snacks to hand!

One of my favourite places to shoot locally is Highwoods Country Park. Highwoods provides a huge variety of natural backdrops for your photographs. Anywhere amongst nature is great, even just standing in some long grass or poking your head out from behind a tree! The most important thing above all else is to have fun during your session. This will reflect in your images, really capturing your lives as they are now. So get creative with “backdrops,” you don’t need a black or white screen to produce powerful images.

Archie_Smile_BWExperiment with angles too. Get down to your childs level, see things as they see them. Climb up onto a bench and get them to look up at you for some wide eyed shots. Get in close and capture the little details, not just hands and feet, but the curls of their hair, their dimples and freckles!

I guess it’s just about having an open mind and letting your creativity flow. Perhaps schedule your own family photo shoot at the park or even in your own garden. You’ll be amazed at the fun you’ll have and you may be surprised at the ideas your children come up with too.

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