Before getting into the two tips for posing children in photography, let me explain the type of photography I specialize in. The type or genre of photography has a big impact on how a photographer poses the person/subject in the photo. I describe my photography as portraiture-lifestyle. Portraiture means photos of people. Simple, right? Lifestyle means catching the moments happening instead of posing the child. As I teach you how to pose children, keep in mind that I am teaching you from the perspective of a portraiture-lifestyle photographer.
My first tip in posing children is to catch them posing themselves.
Children pose all the time. But we as grown-ups often fail to see the ordinary moments as opportunities to grab our camera. Posing children is simple when you think about all a child does in a day: morning snuggles, breakfast, running around half naked before getting dressed, picking out an outfit, homework, playtime, lunchtime, nap time. You get the idea. Now, think of all the expressions they make when they do those things.
Think of their morning face with squinty eyes and crazy hair. Imagine those morning snuggles on the couch. Imagine that dimpled hand slowly tugging the pants up and not making much progress. See the wonder in those sweet faces and the light in their eyes when they sit to listen to a story. Everyday ordinary moments are the best kind of moments. They are real and raw and worth photographing. Embrace the ordinary.
Also, a little note to moms -and maybe some beginner photographers out there, too- who want perfection. Believe me, I understand the struggle. But sometimes the perfect photo is found in all the imperfect moments. I know it’s hard to resist the urge to make something perfect. Most of us have a desire for the perfect matching outfits and coordinating colors for our family photos. I get it, and there is a time for that. But let’s be honest here. Real life doesn’t come in perfect outfits. It comes in messy crazy chaos. Learn to pay attention to the ordinary and enjoy it.
Two things will help you be ready to snap the photo when you catch the kiddos posing:
One thing that will help you be ready to take a photo is to limit clutter. Whether it be at your home or a location-pay attention to the surroundings. I have 4 kids, so I’ve learned to embrace clutter to a degree. It still drives me crazy most of the time. But every 3 to 4 hours we do a full house “clean up” where we spend about 20 minutes (set a timer, and turn on the music!) and get rid of the clutter. Clutter distracts in photos, so I try to limit it in my house. But I have 4 kids…so if I can’t get rid of the clutter, then I do the next best thing.
The next best thing that will help you be ready to take a photo is to embrace the clutter. I know, it seems like I’m contradicting myself. But I’m not. You find your child coloring while surrounded by toilet paper on the floor, embrace the moment. Take the photo! Don’t stop to clean up the mess because who knows how long this moment will last! Believe me, I’ve decided not to take a photo because of clutter before-I regret it every single time.
My second tip for posing children is to give them something to do.
Let’s not think of this as posing. Let’s think of this as keeping them busy in a super-cute-i-want-to-take-
Let’s stay away from “Put your hand here.” “Lean this way a little…smile with your eyes. Now look deep into the camera.” That kind of talk makes kids look at you like your crazy (At least mine do. Remember, this isn’t modeling!) and it may even embarrass them a bit. Believe me, forced poses are very obvious in a photo where the child doesn’t feel comfortable. If I ever find kids struggling in front of the camera, I’ll give them something to do or direct their attention to some thing else. If I want them to move, I’ll say it like,”Move so you can see the book better” or “What’s on the next page?” or “Show me the leaf you found.” Redirecting their attention helps them to forget the awkwardness. It brings them back to the comfortable play where you can once again take the photo.
Not every photo I take is in the lifestyle genre, but most of them are. Portrait – Lifestyle images are, in my opinion, the most emotionally filled photos because it tells a story about real life. I hope these tips help you in getting children to pose. Remember, it’s not all about directing them, sometimes it’s as simple as catching them.