Genius Tricks to Photograph Unruly Children

It can be really exciting to document families. But it isn’t always easy to photograph children or growing families with little ones.

These tips will help you get through a difficult session with unruly children. You’ll get those photos that the family will cherish for many years to come.

Get on The Kids’ Level


Children, especially those under five, are not keen to be photographed let alone by a stranger. The first step in getting them to gain confidence in you is to get on their level.
Stoop down onto one knee and take some time to introduce yourself and even show them your camera. Show them a photo that you’ve taken of them will also grab their attention.

This will pique their interest in what you’re doing and perhaps may even pose a little more for the next photos.

Involve the Children in the Session

Oftentimes children become unruly and difficult during portrait sessions. They feel like they are following orders.
Keep an eye out to check if their energy is draining, or they’re acting out. Try and have them engage in the session in a different way.

Have them come over and stand by you while you get photographs of the older siblings or the parents alone.
Ask them if they want to be your assistant and that you need help making mom and dad smile.

Have them tell jokes, make funny faces, anything that helps them to take part in the session. Children love to change roles with their parents and will find it both entertaining and fun!

Play With the Children

Sometimes, children need to play and not pose. They need to let out their energy and don’t care much that mom and dad are paying you for portraits.
Go with it and play with them a bit. For babies, getting close and making noises or tickling, with parent approval, usually works to get their attention.

Move back and get the shot. If you can use a tripod for this, even better, or have an assistant help you making them smile.
Saying funny things like “eww daddy farted!” or something that gets a reaction out of the children will help you get a real smile. And it’ll keep them where they are.

Even better if you can get mom and dad on board to do some silly faces or noises.

Getting them to play can also give them a little break from posing or as they know it, standing in one spot for too long.

Take a Break

Most often, the reason children are acting out is that they need a break. Mention to parents before the session that they should bring snacks and drinks for their children. Just in case they need them during the session.

Breaks can also be a great opportunity for you to photograph the family being natural. Or to get other details like the location of the session for the family photo album.

Change of Scenery

Children get tired of being in one spot for too long at a time. This can sometimes result in meltdowns and shutting down during sessions.

If this is the case during the portrait session you’re shooting, change the scenery.

You can change locations or move the session from say, the sand, to the water. Or perhaps from the lake at the park to the games for the children.