Photographing Children (Portraiting)

Published on July 12, 2017

Photo session magic!

  1. Prep the student if needed.

    • Does their hair need to be combed? Use a clean comb from Emergency Kit – one for each child!
    • Does their nose or face need to be wiped?
    • Do their shoes need to come off? Are they clearly not intended for their outfit?  Are they worn?  Make sure to check session notes!
    • How is their bow placement, hair part placement?
    • Does their shirt need to be tucked or un-bunched?
    • Have the teacher helper or your photo stylist do this if they can before their time with the photographer.
    • The more time the photographer uses not taking photos… the less poses and time you get with each child!

TIP: Make SMART use of your time.  Assess the child “on-deck.”  Ask the school helper to wipe nose or face, comb hair or take ratty tennis shoes off (make sure to check report, if session notes said not to take shoes off… DON’T!  — In some cultures it is considered odd to take shoes off in photos. 

2. Review Session Notes

  • Read what the parents wrote when they signed their child up.
  • This may tell you which poses they prefer.
  • The session notes will also tell you the child’s favorite things. Use this information to make a connection with the child.

3.  Greet the Children and Bring Them on the Set

  • Remember to make a connection!  Hey there sweet girl, I like your dress, what’s that on your shirt?
  • If the child is old enough, a give-me-five is a great way to engage the child.  If they willingly slap your hand, they are usually outgoing and not reserved.  If they hide behind the teacher’s leg, you know to use techniques for a shy child (see kid wrangling guide).
  • Have your photo stylist lead the child to the set and position them where you would like them.  (If the child is a clinger… have the teacher lead them to play with a toy on the set.
  • Try your best to position the student in the Hula-Hoop sweet spot! …with their knees facing the light.

TIP: Pre-reading the session notes is a great idea! If there is anything special to take note of, highlight the sticker to remember to read the session notes. 

4. Photograph the Barcode Sticker

Take a photo of the barcode sticker. Make sure the photo of the barcode is in focus and straight.  Photographing the sticker on a flat
surface yields the best results.  Keep the barcode in the center of your frame (use your center focus dot) and photograph from the same focal length and
distance each time… if you do, you will be able to crop all the bar codes at one time saving time in post-processing.

TIP:  Align the bar-code with the middle line in your view finder.

crop lines-barcode web

IMPORTANT: If the child does not have a bar-code sticker for some reason, take a photo of their name (and e-mail address if you can get it from the school). You can create their  account later.  Make sure they have a place holder in your running list of stickers.

5. Take Photos!
Be careful not to take pictures back-to-back too quickly or the lights on the set will not have enough time to recycle for the next exposure.  It is difficult to ascertain this occurrence when you are actively taking pictures, but it is obvious in the resulting photographs.  This phenomenon results in photos where the lighting is too dark.