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How to Take a Child's Portrait

Taking a child’s portrait can be rewarding and fun, or it can be a miserable impossible nightmare. We’ll try to help you make it the former, not the latter.


  • Step 1: Take a deep breath Take a deep breath.
  • Step 2: Discuss images with parent Discuss with the parent or guardian what type of images they want.
  • Step 3: Introduce yourself to child Introduce yourself to the child making sure you use your sweetest, happiest, non-scariest voice that you can possibly muster.
  • Step 4: Arrange the set Arrange the set and props that you may be using.
  • TIP: Have the parent stay with the child during your set-up.
  • Step 5: Make parents pledge their help Reiterate to the parents that you’re going to need all the assistance you can get to help keep the child happy and their attention focused on the camera.
  • Step 6: Post the child With the aid of the parents, place the child on the set, in the position you want him or her.
  • Step 7: Check that child is clean Check that the child is clean and free of drool, vomit, or visible food stains.
  • TIP: Have a spare set of clothes for the child in case stains are indelible.
  • Step 8: Grab camera Grab your camera.
  • Step 9: Set up camera Select the appropriate film, aperture and shutter speed for your shooting conditions.
  • Step 10: Compose shot Compose your shot.
  • TIP: The general rule of thumb for composition is to place the main focal point of your subject using the rule of thirds. Meaning, if you were to dissect a frame into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, the point in which the lines converge is where you place your subject.
  • Step 11: Meter on subject Meter on the subject.
  • Step 12: Shoot quickly Shoot quickly, whenever the child is cooperating, and as much as you can.
  • TIP: If the child proves to be particularly difficult, try bribing them with a sweet treat or two.
  • Step 13: Shoot even more Change your memory card or film and shoot some more pictures for insurance.
  • FACT: The photographer Sally Mann gained fame—and created controversy—by using her own children in her work.

You Will Need

  • A child
  • A camera
  • Snacks
  • Infinite patience
  • A great big smile
  • Props
  • some suggestions might be bikes
  • balloons
  • dolls
  • pets
  • etc. (optional)
  • Lighting (optional)
  • Spare set of childu2019s clothes (optional)

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