I love spending time with my friends kids… when they’re not crying or pooping.

I love taking candid photos of them in particular.

Staged/posed photos though are incredibly difficult challenging.

Children simply do not understand what you’re doing or why you’re taking photos of them and they won’t stand still for you to get the perfect shot.

I took some photos of my best friend’s kid over the Christmas holidays and came up with a few tips:

  1. Do not pose them.
    Kids simply won’t do this; they will quickly squirm out and usually end up crying. What you may want to do instead is make the parents seem like its a game. For example, the Kid was running circles around the dining room table, so I had the parents both sit on the floor blocking the child. Once he tried to get past, the parents would grab and tickle him in a playful manner, the kid would accept the close contact and laugh.

2. Pretend something is really interesting.
In the featured shot, I wanted the Kid to be playing with the lights. What we did for this shot was, we had both the parents “ooo-ing and aaaa-ing” on the couch when the lights were on. The kid was naturally intrigued and wanted at it; after being helped onto the couch, I got a good couple minutes (and shots) of him playing with the lights before he become disinterested.

3. Be natural.
Even when it’s your best friends, I think it is an awkward environment to interact with your child on a personal level when someone non-immediate-family is present. Like, how you act/shower you child with affection isn’t the same way when you’re out in public or when you have guests over. If a parent can overcome this awkwardness and interact with the child as if no-one was taking photos of them, the child will act more natural as well, resulting in more authentic photos.

4. The TV is not your friend.
One would think that you can pacify/distract a child by having them watch TV and then have the parents get right next to them to take a family photo. All you’re going to get is a photo of a child with glazed-over eyes and looking outside the camera. And when the TV is turned off, it usually results in an upset child as well.

5. Be quick.
In my experience, you have a very short window of opportunity when taking (family/group) photos with young children. If you can’t entertain the child, they’re going to start squirming and crying. Always bring your fastest lens and preferably use a flash, especially when indoors and in low light situations.