Using Distractions to Photograph Kids

Using Distractions to Get Better Pictures of Your Kids




Kids can be difficult to photograph, they are often not interested in sitting still for extended periods and they don’t like all the attention. I come from a huge family and I love photographing my nieces and nephews but over the years I have had to resort to all kinds of tricks to get the pictures I wanted.


Several years ago I job shadowed a talented family photographer in Vancouver and during that time I learned a few things about photographing children. One of the best tips I learned was to use distractions. When kids focus on the camera it’s very difficult to get a good picture, sometimes they get really shy and try to hide, sometimes they try to do a “nice smile” but just look silly and sometimes they just run away (this has definitely happened to me.) BUT if you can find a way to distract them enough that they temporarily forget that they’re being photographed you can get much more natural pictures of them.





Use Pretty Toys

The first tip is use Toys. One of my favourite ways to distract little ones is to use a toy that is cute and can double as a prop. I have a few wooden toys that are vintage looking and neutral in colour so they don’t really distract from the real subject- the little ones. When possible, pick out a few toys ahead of time and place one where you want the kids to sit. With any luck your subject will go to the toy and sit right where you want them. The toy will distract them from the camera and you can capture them as they play.




Get Them Talking

The second tip is to Talk. Common sense right? Simple yes, but very effective for kids who are old enough to talk. Just ask questions about school, friends, hobbies. Get them talking and photograph them while you talk. If you can get the little ones talking about something they’re interested in they will completely forget that you are taking pictures of you and In between these little exchanges you can get some genuine natural faces which makes for much better images.





Take a Lot of Pictures

The third tip is to Take a lot of pictures. I know what you’re thinking, “I knew it, photographers just take a ton of pictures and eventually they end up with something good.” That’s not exactly what I mean. Yes, most professionals do take a lot of photos for a variety of reasons that we can talk about another time, but I mean just get that shutter going. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting anything at first the idea is to desensitize the child to the sound so they eventually stop focusing on the sound.

If these tips don’t work you can always resort to good old fashion bribery! I often bring chocolate, cookies or candy with me when I know there will be little ones in a crucial shot. Weddings and big family gatherings can be overwhelming for little ones, there is a lot of stimulation and even a seasoned photographer can struggle to get kids to cooperate. Of course I always check with parents first before I offer up any sugary rewards.


Now that they’re used to the camera read on to see how to get them to Look at the Lens.


Do you have any special tricks you use to distract kiddos?

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