10 Tips for Photographing the Uncooperative Kid

Capture precious moments of your uncooperative kid with these expert tips on photographing children who don’t like to pose.

Tips for photographing kids

Does your child hate taking photos and you’re wondering how to get a good photograph of your uncooperative kid? I have some tips to share with you that have worked for me over the years.

Madison has grown up before your very eyes right here on this blog. Many have seen her as a baby, barely able to walk, and now as a child going into first grade. Where did the time go?

Also for many years, most of you have seen quite a transformation in her photographs. As a baby, there would be smiles, and she would ham it up for the camera. However, at the age of 3 going on 13, the smiles stopped, and now that she’s 6 going on 60, it’s tougher getting her to smile or even be in front of the camera.

If you have the same problem, here’s how we get to photograph our uncooperative kid and make sure she looks amazing in photos!

Tips for Photographing the Uncooperative Kid

1. Pick Your Time Wisely

When you take your photos matter, and I’m not just talking about the lighting. If your child hasn’t had a nap all day, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re going to have a cranky child on your hand that will refuse to cooperate. Try to take your photos after a nap, or maybe even after snack time. Do you remember those Snickers commercials? That’s going to be your child.

2. Let Your Kid Get Serious

This is a trick I learned from a photographer, and it has worked wonders for me. Tell your child to show you their serious face, trust me, no one can stay serious for very long. Madison is never able to hold a stern look for too long, and before you know it, a smile will shine through after she’s had a good laugh. Works like a charm, every single time!

3. Let Your Child Play

Personally, I prefer taking photos in a more natural environment. So when Madison is playing or running around at the park, the zoo, or wherever, those are the times I take my photos. Even when riding her bike. No child wants to sit for an hour or two just smiling for the camera, and neither would you. Not only does it look coerced or forced, but natural photos just look way better. So let your kids be wild and be themselves, and the smiles will come. You’ll also be amazed at the shots you’ll get without even trying.

Photographing kids

4. Play With Your Child

You gotta get goofy with it, and get on their level! It’s easier when your child realizes that you’re having fun too. Make silly faces and generally be a kid yourself. You can both pretend to be superheroes or whatever they want to be. One suggestion is to get super comfortable. Wear your most comfy clothes and get on the floor if you have to. Your child would prefer if you’re fun instead of shouting out posed commands.

5. Get Your Child Involved in the Process

Madison loves to have an input and would often ask to see her photos on the playback screen. Having your child get involved in the creative process helps them to feel as though they have a say as to what their pictures look like. However, this doesn’t always work, just as these tips won’t work all the time.

6. Offer a Reward or Bribe

There are times when you just have to offer a bribe or a reward. For example, they could have their favorite treat if they let you take a photo or two for a few minutes. That almost always works for me. You can even include that treat in your picture. For example, Madison just loves popsicles, so if she sits, she gets another popsicle, which I can incorporate into my shot. Win-win for both of us!

Child With Popsicle

7. Distract

If your child just isn’t in the mood to take a photograph at that very moment, do something else. Have a chat with your child about the things that she loves, what she would like to do, or even the things around her. Take the focus away from the photoshoot and get back to it at a later time. Remember, it’s ok for you both to take a break.

8. Know When to Stop

Sometimes 10 minutes may be all that your child will give you, while at other times she will be happy to provide you with an hour. Look for the cues for when your child has had enough. Remember, it’s ok to take a break and if they don’t want to continue, just stop. There’ll be other days.

9. Let Go of Perfection

No one’s perfect so there will not be the perfect smile or the perfect pose. Let your child be themselves, and your photos will be perfect – perfectly them!

10. Give Up

OK, I’m very serious here. If you’ve tried your best and have tried every trick under the sun and your child still won’t cooperate, just give up. There’s no failure in giving up, just do it another day at another time. Today just wasn’t your day.

Photographing uncooperative kid

Remember your goal is to take photos of your kids being themselves while doing the things they love. However, photographing kids may take a lot of patience and also flexibility on your part, but the end results and the memories will be worth it.

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