Before They Grow Up: Photographing Childhood

with kellie bieser

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October 9, 2017
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November 6, 2017
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Study Along seats available!

From the minute they enter the world, our children are our everything. Their smiling faces, their sparkling eyes, their little hands and itty bitty feet…everything about them becomes the focus of our universe. And it all changes so quickly! Luckily, we are armed with a tool that can freeze time and capture all of those little things we love most: our cameras! Whether photographing our own children or the children of our clients, we have the opportunity to not only capture the physical traits of our young subjects, but also to create images that reflect their unique personalities. Throughout this four week course, we will cover the technical aspects of photographing children in various genres to create images that match our individual artistic vision. In four image-filled PDFs and weekly videos, we will discuss the creative choices that we can make as photographers, both behind the camera and in post processing, to allow our work to capture the emotion of childhood and the beautiful personalities of our child subjects. (Are you an alum of Kellie’s old course, Photographing Childhood? If so please contact us before signing up to find out more about overlap between the old course and the new course.)

“Whether photographing our own children or the children of our clients, we have the opportunity to not only capture the physical traits of our young subjects, but also to create images that reflect their unique personalities.”



4 weeks


daily shooting encouraged


6-8 hours of work per week


this course has prerequisites


Students should be comfortable shooting in manual mode with a firm understanding of the exposure triangle.



Kellie Bieser is a wife, mother, and visual historian based in Columbus, OH. Armed with a Nikon D750, Df, and a happy collection of lenses, she strives to not only capture faces and places but also the feelings and emotions that define a particular moment in time. Assisted by a bottomless cup of black coffee, Kellie likes to spend her time away from the camera running, reading, and playing in the yard with the kids. Kellie’s portfolio is available here.

The following photographers also participate in discussions and provide assignment critiques as teaching assistants:

A number of course alumni are invited to engage in discussion, share insight with students, and provide feedback and encouragement throughout the course.


200-level (Intermediate)

• Intro week PDF
• Week One PDF – Creating a foundation for creating photographs of children
• Week One bonus PDF – infusion childhood portraits with emotion
• Week One shooting video – evoking emotion from children
• Week Two PDF – Creating traditional child portraits
• Week Two editing video – basic retouching
• Week Two bonus PDF – including parents in the frame
• Week Three PDF – Creating lifestyle child portraits
• Week Three editing videos – garage portrait edit and adding textures in Photoshop
• Week Three bonus PDF – photographing multiple children
• Week Four PDF – Creating documentary child portraits
• Week Four editing video – basic black and white editing
• Week Four bonus PDF – Embracing the snapshot
• Custom Editing Videos (based on the needs of the class)

Full Participation students engage in an interactive online classroom experience that includes instructor-led group discussions and detailed, personalized guidance for the duration of the workshop. Full participation students receive instructor critiques of the posted assignment each week and have lifetime access to a Workshop Alumni forum for continued peer discussion after the course concludes.

Study Along students will have access to all materials and will be able to view all content and conversation in the main workshop forum and receive access to their own private subforum for peer study groups and image shares. Study along students will not be able to ask the instructor questions or request instructor feedback on their assignments.

Welcome & Preassignment


Lesson One:

Reading: Studying the role of children in art; defining our own associations with childhood; creating emotions in portrait work; artist interview with Caroline Jensen; how to evoke emotions from a child client (video).
Assignment: Create a child portrait that embodies your definition of childhood

Lesson Two:

Reading: Studying the art of the traditional portrait; defining traditional portraiture and discussing various aspects that enable success in this genre; artist interview with Allison McSorley; basic retouching in Photoshop (video)
Assignment: Create a traditional child portrait and share the aspects of the frame that you considered in your process.

Lesson Three:

Reading: Studying the art of the lifestyle portrait; defining lifestyle portraiture and discussing various aspects that enable success in this genre; artist interview with Lisa Tichané; how to get a child to relax in a controlled setting (video)
Assignment: Create a lifestyle child portrait and share the aspects of the frame that you considered in your process.

Lesson Four:

Reading: Studying the art of the documentary portrait; defining documentary portraiture and discussing various aspects that enable success in this genre; artist interview; waiting for the moment (video)
Assignment: Create a documentary child portrait and share the aspects of the frame that you considered in your process.

The CMU workshop is a 100% online classroom experience. Once you sign up, you have access to a course forum that is open 24 hours a day so that you can learn and join discussions on your own schedule.

Each week students receive a set of course materials– these materials generally include a PDF and/or videos. Throughout the week, instructors and TAs are present in the forum every day to answer questions and offer encouragement. Students receive an assignment each week that pertains to the topics covered in the course materials and class discussion throughout the week.

Full Participation students engage in an interactive online classroom experience that includes instructor-led group discussions and detailed, personalized guidance for the duration of the workshop. Full participation students post their assignments in the forum and receive instructor critiques each week. They also have lifetime access to a Workshop Alumni forum for continued peer discussion after the course concludes.

Study Along students have access to all materials and are able to view all content and conversation in the main workshop forum. They also receive access to their own private Study Along subforum for peer study groups and image shares. Study along students will not be able to ask the instructor questions or request instructor feedback on their assignments, but they can follow along with instructor critiques of the Full Participation assignments.

Whether you are a Full Participation student or a Study Along student, the course materials are yours to keep.


  • Natalie Gildersleeve says:

    I cannot say enough good things about this class!! Kellie is an incredibly present and mindful teacher who has the ability to see each persons unique talents. This class really opened my eyes to seeing a wider perspective in my storytelling. I feel like I grew so much during the month I studied with Kellie. I only wish it didn’t have to end! I highly recommend this amazing course!!

  • Kellie’s Before They Grow Up: Photographing Childhood workshop is absolutely brilliant. She gives us so many different styles of photography to pursue when photographing our children (classic portraiture to documentary photography) so you can pick and choose what you are most comfortable with after experimenting with these different types. She provides excellent coaching each week (full participation only). I also loved the off-topic chatter we had in the forums. It kept me very engaged and allowed me to get to know the other photographers so much better! Kellie is an amazing mentor and I am thankful I took her class to learn from her! You can read more of my review or images I took in class in my blog post:

  • Anya Glenn says:

    This class couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  The class started when my youngest daughter was just nine days old. Obviously, I want to improve my skills to get better pictures of both of my daughters (the other is 3 years old), and particularly to work on capturing their relationship. But, this class really gave me the perfect opportunity to slow down and really focus on my older daughter.  As she transitions to her role as a big sister, I know she is a bit afraid of losing me.  Having this month to breath and really look at her and engage with her to capture her true spirit has been incredible.

    The focus in this class on childhood emotions is incredible. I loved learning about the different styles of photography, but most importantly, every week I had to ask myself what a picture conveyed and what reflections it gave about childhood.  At the beginning of class all of my thoughts were “bubbles,” “giggles,” and other such light joyful things.  And that certainly is part of childhood, but my reality is that I have a sweet, observant, contemplative, mighty and generous little girl.  She isn’t exuberant and overflowing with joyful emotions all the time… and I love her for exactly who she is. This class really allowed me to capture her spirit in a way I haven’t been able to do before and it really cemented in my mind that I need to keep her truth present first and foremost when I take pictures.  I know my daughter better after this class.
    Not only that, but now I have a whole series of wonderful pictures to print and remember this remarkable period in our lives.

    This is a phenomenal class for a hobbiest who wants to up their game on documenting their children’s lives. Kellie is an incredibly supportive teacher and was fully engaged in all of the forums of the class throughout the course. She made both editing and shooting videos on the fly when students needed a bit more help on a topic.

    It’s the best class I’ve taken.

  • Melissa Woods Schulze says:

    I can’t say enough good things about this class! If you photograph children and want your photos to not only capture who they are as individuals, but also provide a broader sense of what childhood means on a more universal level, this class is for you!

    Kellie is a positive and encouraging presence throughout, providing quick and useful feedback as well as broader insights about photography/photographers that are relevant and interesting. The class materials are clearly organized and follow a thoughtful flow from week to week, moving through four fundamental styles of photography. Kellie also provides a simple exercise/approach to guide your creative process to help bring your vision to life.

    Having the chance to focus expressly on each type of photo style week to week has really helped me to formulate what type of photography I want to explore (while still giving me plenty of room to blur the lines and try new things in a thoughtful way). Kellie brings in “experts” each week to discuss their style of shooting and why they have chosen it. I thought this was a useful addition to her materials and helped me to discover types of work and creative voices that I gravitate towards.

    Finally, Kellie is a great support and inspiration. She somehow manages to be a mother to four kids, a truly fantastic photographer AND a supportive, well informed and very accessible teacher (while maintaining a sense of play and joy that is infectious). You will be wowed by all of the materials and bonus PS editing tips you gain, as well as by Kellie’s thoughtful feedback.

    Take it as a full participation student! It is absolutely worth it!

  • Heather says:

    Amazing class! Kellie is an incredible instructor; so supportive, friendly, engaging, helpful and loving to her students. Not only does she take beautiful and inspiring photos but she is an amazing teacher. She knows her stuff and she pushes her students to look at photographing children with new eyes. I was so bummed when the class ended. She sets the tone for such a great and fun learning environment. I can’t say enough about it. You will not regret taking this amazing class!

  • Melissa McCann says:

    This class was one of my all time favorites and I have taken quite a few. The materials are fantastic and really made me think and be intentional in my shooting. I think about the different genres we studied – classic portraits, lifestyle and documentary – every time I pick my camera up. I have my favorites but each has importance in life of photographing my children. I absolutely loved the PDFs and know I will be rereading them many times. More than than the materials, however, what made this class so special was Kellie. She is an incredible instructor and was so involved on a daily basis that I actually feel like we are friends. I know I will miss her and all her insightful comments, instruction, and wonderful sense of humor. I actually shot every day which I usually find hard to do but Kellie was so inspiring, I made sure to be 100 percent involved in this course. She really goes beyond what one would expect. She provided me a video critique for one of my submissions with detailed instructions on how to edit one of my images in PS. I was so impressed that she took the time to do this and have watched the video about 5 times all ready. It is really a terrific class and if you are thinking about it at all – don’t hesitate to sign up. Whether you have a baby, a teenager, grandkids, nieces and nephews – you will take better shots of them. I am so thankful to have taken the course and cannot recommend it enough!

  • Julie Fuller says:

    If you have a child or multiple children, no matter what age(s), this is a must-take class! I now have dozens and dozens of ‘keeper’ images that I would not have had if not for this class; that’s how inspired and motivated I was every step of the way. I am mama of a 7 year old girl and a 17 year old boy, and I captured moments of both of their lives during this course. It is especially difficult to take genuine, applicable photos of a teenage guy, but somehow, through the direction of this class, I was able to capture a bunch! Aside from the amazing content, another reason alone for taking this class is Kellie. Wow, is she an awesome instructor! Besides the prep work that went into designing the course materials, she is ever so present in the forum on a daily basis, sharing current, never before seen images she is taking right along with us students, posting extra editing videos as various needs arise, and commenting on all daily posts in addition to the critique assignments. Her fun nature is contagious; she is just so real, and truly becomes a friend. Don’t hesitate to enroll in the next run!

  • Ashley Swenson says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this class and have been recommending it to anyone who will listen! The PDFs cover so much ground and I loved delving into a different genre every week. I’ve taken 4 CM classes now and while all of the teachers have been amazing and unique, Kellie takes instructor participation to another level. She gives so much time and energy to her students and creates a very safe and cooperative atmosphere. She posted daily shares along with us and if a student had an editing question, the next time I checked there would magically be a video showing the technique in question! I highly recommend Photographing Children!

  • Jennifer Wright says:

    Inspiring. Informative. Stimulating. This class is packed with information and examples, but that is just the start. Kellie is simply amazing. She is open with her knowledge and her processes all the way through the class. The mid-week extra lessons provided a boost to keep me involved and shooting through the week and her feedback was so helpful in pointing the way to growing my skills. There were extra videos to answer questions and Kellie shared her own work right along with ours. My confidence went up and up each week due to Kellie’s unflagging energy and the supportive environment of the whole class. Don’t hesitate – sign up as soon as possible!

  • Kathleen Janus says:

    I have three words for you: Take This Class!! I have taken a handful of workshops and, while all are excellent, Kellie Bieser truly goes above and beyond. The content is excellent, providing really nice variety and structure in thinking about how to photograph children. I love all of the photos that she includes as inspiration, providing great ideas for how to integrate creativity into your own work. And the community that Kellie fosters in the group is extremely involved and supportive. I have made more friends in this workshop than any other class, and we all continue to support each other, in no small part because of Kellie’s leadership. But what is best about this class is the feedback that Kellie provides. She is so thorough in her praise, helping you to appreciate your work in new ways. But she is also super thorough in her constructive criticism, helping you to grow beyond what you ever thought possible. I never imagined that my photography could take such an enormous leap in just four short weeks, but it did. If you are looking to make this jump in your own work and enjoy photographing children, I cannot recommend this class highly enough!!!

  • Jessica Barr says:

    Love, love, loved this class! Photographing children was a thought provoking and experience filled class. Kellie Bieser has it going on! I’ve enjoyed all my classes so far at Clickin’ Moms but she made this one special. She made the effort to comment daily on everyone’s photos and posted numerous extra videos to help with editing actual class photos. You will take so much away from this class. She helps you find a style that fits you and pushes you out of your comfort zone at the same time.

  • Kim Welter says:

    This class changed my photography life! Not only do I love Kellie and what she brings to this class, but the material is broken down into sections that helps you find what and how you want to intentionally shoot. Kellie participates along with the group, she shares her photos and shows us how not to take ourselves too seriously! This is so helpful especially when shooting children. This course was created out of love for this craft and Kellie shows it every step of the way. The one thing no one will expect is how much feedback you receive (which is not just weekly but daily on your picture shares as well) but also the numerous videos she created to show us how to edit a photo we were having trouble with. The 4 weeks flew by far to quickly but I walked away knowing more about my shooting style, how create the photos I have in my mind along with making the experience fun for all. This course is priceless and you will never regret purchasing a FP seat!

  • Brittany Anderson says:

    Loved this class! This was the first FP class that I have taken and I am so glad that I did. Kellie is an amazing teacher in this class! I definitely will be continuing to look back through her material frequently. When anyone had a question on how she would process or shoot something, she would quickly post a video of how she did everything. I loved how it goes over the different styles of shooting, causing me to definitely shoot outside of my comfort zone. It really help me define what type of shooting I like and where I need to push myself more. This is a class that is a must for anyone with kids or grandkids. Amazing class!!

  • Megan Meister says:

    This workshop was the first full participation for me, and it was a game changer. Kellie was beyond generous in both the prepared materials (pdfs and videos) and forum participation. She went above the call of duty in sharing her skills, technique and joy of photographing children with the class. Her critiques are both thoughtful and kind. Since my photograph focuses by and large on children’s portraiture, this seemed like a no brainer for me. I cannot express how glad I am I chose this class as my foray into full participation. Don’t hesitate to add this course to your calendar!

  • Marcie Reif says:

    Oh my goodness!! Did I LOVE this class!! Kellie is an amazing instructor and you will for sure feel like you want to move next door to her and be her best friend! :) She is so sweet and kind, and has such an amazing active role as an instructor. She is doing daily shooting and shares right along with the students. She creates a very comfortable atmosphere where people feel very comfortable sharing. She has an amazing gift with her words. My favorite part of the class was reading her CC, she has such a positive way of saying everything good or negative. Her materials are awesome and I feel so much more educated on the different types of photography and how they can all play an amazing role in capturing your children or clients if you are a working pro. This class is very much for the hobbiest as well as the working pro. You will not regret taking this class and will love everything about it!

  • Karen Koenig says:

    Great class for anyone interested in photographing children (of any age). Kellie does a wonderful job of teaching, motivating, and cultivating creativity. She challenges participants to look at all styles of photography (lifestyle, portrait, documentary, etc.) and includes examples through her photography. Her materials are informative, and she includes bonus videos midweek. Her editing videos are easy to follow and well done. She is such an encouraging instructor… feel her passion through the feedback, which keeps everyone on task with the daily shooting. I didn’t want to class to end!

  • bobbie cohlan says:

    This class is fabulous. We were able to focus on different styles, traditional, lifestyle and documentary. Kellie is an amazing photographer as well as a teacher who provides well written lessons each week along with many many photographic examples. There is also a bonus lesson each midweek. The critiques by Kellie are directed at helping your improve your photography while also are very encouraging. There were extra editing videos in response to students questions which were so helpful as well. I am so glad I took this class and hope to continue to use the skills I gained in the weeks and months to come. I didn’t want the class to end cause I so enjoyed not just the lessons but the support and inspiration from Kellie and the other students. I highly recommend this class to all levels of photographers who enjoy working with their own children ( in my case, my grandchildren) for personal photography as well as professionals who work with children as clients.

  • karen bailey says:

    This class really helped me see what style of shooting I like and use most when photographing my children. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and I learned so much about the styles of portrait work. Kellie was an amazing teacher, so much information, extras and videos were available to us. I loved this class and recommend it to anyone who photographs children!

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