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Tips on how to pose children during a session.

January 3, 2022

Depending on the child's age posing can be very tricky. Here are a few of my favorite tricks I use to get great shots every time by age. I break the age groups into groups to make it easier to explain. I have been caring for children since I was a child myself. Thankfully I have learned a few things over the last 30 years to make photography easier. Little did I know, I was just in training for my future dream job of portrait photographer.

Age groups

Newborn- up to 3 months

Infant - up to 12 months

Toddler - up to 4 years old

School age - up to 5th grade

Teen - up to graduation

1. Having a relaxed fun atmosphere is the most important for all sessions. Using props in my photography is very helpful, but if you just bought it, it is breakable or very important to you? If so, then it is probably not the best prop choice for a toddler. I like to choose plastic or cloth props to use for infants or toddlers. Having something for them to pick up and play with is what makes the magic of childhood happen. Instantly you see their face light up because you let them touch it! Children hear no all day long. Imagine going somewhere fun that you get to play with cool new toys that tell a story. Enter photography magic, BAM! Little minds are curious. They want to help. They want to see what is going on and they have to touch everything. What you can expect more than anything is they will throw it! Instant toddler internal question..... will it bounce? I do have studio rules and I tell them about them but they are the boss at the session. When they are done we are done. I never force any child to take a picture. I ask them politely if they would like to sit in my chair? Sit with Mommy? Hold my prop? Play with my new toy? That way they hold the power in the situation and we both feel respected. Sometimes it is a no! I say OK! Ultimately it is their choice. If you force them to sit they will cry or not smile. When they see how much fun it is they normally choose to join in with their own idea on how to have fun. To me that is a win, win situation!

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2. Props that tell a story

This is going to sound like a given, but it can be harder than it looks when it come to children. First you have to ask yourself. How do I plan to use the Images? Do I need them to look posed? Do I want to catch them in play? I personally love catching children in the act! You never know what they will do next. But if you want to tell a story than you have to choose the props wisely that you have available during your session. For example....when you have a Spring mini session you can choose a watering can as a prop. I love to ask questions to the child like. Do you see any water in the can? How do you pour it on flowers? To get the child to look at the camera ask...Who has a watering can that you know? If they say no one. Then you can ask if they have ever seen one on a favorite show? Click, Click perfect moments captured!

3. Teens are way too cool for pictures

Teens are more responsive if you ask them questions. I know that sounds crazy! Trust me it works. Where did you get that shirt? They smile because they love it and picked it out. Click goes the shutter. Or they hate the clothes look at mom and then they start talking. If they are very stiff I will look at them with a funny face for a few second and finally they crack a smile. If that is a fail I have told them to blow raspberries with their lips just because it will make anyone laugh. I know you just tried it. If you want to see them glow. Tell them that they are beautiful or handsome. It works every time. Remember their time is important to them too! They want a good experience to tell their friends. Comfortable poses, using language they understand and don't talk down to them. They get enough of that possibly at school.

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4. Infants need protection

The proper posing of infant and newborns is so important. The neck must always be supported for newborns. If you let their neck slump over too much it actually cuts off their air supply. That is why it is so important to have your car seat properly installed at each stage of their age as they grow up. Having a cute bucket and putting them in is not correct you need to use weighted bean bags so your bucket will not fall over. Safety first! Next I use newborn positioning pillows that are safe to position them in the bucket. I then use a blanket or fur to cover the pillows. The props and pillows can be found online. I made my bean bags, but you can also order them or find them at your local store. Always use soft material if it is going to touch their skin. How would you like to have your legs or arms touching a scratchy plastic? They have very sensitive skin. Personally I only wash my infant fabrics with newborn hypoallergenic sent free laundry detergent as added protection after every session.

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5. School age knows everything

There is a reason they have a show that asks parents very easy questions for a fifth grader. They think they know everything, yet they will ask "what is this used for?", "How long is this going to take?" and "Can we leave yet?". I just ask them questions too! What school do you go to? Who is your best friend? What would be the best gift that you could get for your birthday? What did you ask for? How do you think that prop works? They always say, "I know!" or "What is it?". What story do you want your session to tell? I will find a question to ask. If you want them to be posed, name the body part or prop and tell them what direction to move it. Example... move your foot to the right more. Can you smell the flower? Can you read page 45 for me in the book? Always thank them for what they do and you will get a better smile.

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