Taking pictures of kids can be hard — first, you have to remember how to take a good photo, and then you have to work with fidgeting subjects. As the head of editorial photography at Zulily, Sean Gumm coordinates photo shoots with an average of 91 kids a week. He gave us some advice on getting kids to stay still so that you get some great shots.
Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images
Keep Them Engaged
Keeping children engaged and finding ways to make photo shoots fun result in better photos. One way to do this is by playing catch with them. Gumm suggests tossing the kid a ball (or having someone else toss it), and snapping a photo before she catches it. This gives you a great opportunity to get some candid photos of your child smiling.
You can also include toys and stuffed animals as part of your photoshoot — bonus points if the toy squeaks. “Toys are a photographer’s best friend,” Gumm says. Hold the toys above the camera to make your kid laugh and look into the camera. You can also include the toy in the photo and have your kid pose with the toy.
Bubbles are another fun way to keep your child excited during a photoshoot. If you want to encourage them to stay in one area, just blow bubbles in that area. “Bubbles are a fun and inexpensive way to keep you child engaged, so why not use them to your advantage?” Gumm says.
Let Them Sit Down
If your child can’t seem to stand still, let them pose with a chair. They can lean on the chair or sit in it. This tip is especially helpful for people with younger toddlers that have just learned to walk and are excited to run around. If you don’t want the chair in the photo, you can always crop it out later.
“Games are the best way to keep your kids involved and focused during your photoshoot,” Gumm says. His favourite game to play is “Squish the Bug”. To play, draw a bug on a piece of masking tape and place the tape where you want your child to stand. Your child then has to stand on the bug to make sure it’s squished, otherwise, it will crawl away. Every time your kid moves away from the tape, remind them that they’re standing on the bug and that their job is to squish it.
Simon Says is also a great game to get kids excited about posing for photos. Instead of ordering a kid to stand up and stay still, tell them to do it through a game of Simon Says.
To help your kids concentrate and stop moving around, ask them to name objects or colours they see around the room, or count them.
Take a Break
Sometimes the best way to get your kids to stand still is by having them get out their energy beforehand. Play a game of hide-and-seek. “This can be especially fun when the weather is nice and you are able to play outside utilising the natural light,” said Gumm. “In between rounds, stage a photoshoot, so kids don’t feel like it is a chore.” For younger kids, play peek-a-boo with them.
You can also try techniques to calm them down like having them watch a meditative video for kids.
Embrace Their Energy
Finally, if you can’t get your kids to stay still, work with it. Move into an environment where your kid can run around and take photos of them playing. “Try finding an environment or area that is large enough to follow your kiddo around,” Gumm said. “Photographing them as they move and play can result in great candid photos.”