10 non-poses to get natural photos of your kids

  • The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

You won’t be surprised if I say that most kids hate to pose for the camera.

Frankly, who could blame them? We hate it too, right?

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

You know how much kids hate it when they don’t know what to do (Mom, I’m boooooooored!). Let’s follow their natural attraction for being in action!

1. Let them be wild

This is the #1 rule to get joyful, authentic images of children: make sure they are actually having fun.

It might sound obvious, but your main role when photographing kids isn’t to get good exposure or compose a great frame, it’s first and foremost to create the conditions for the kids to be happy even though you are shoving a camera in their face.

I love uninhibited joy so I will let the kids get pretty wild when shooting, but even if you are not a huge fan of such crazy behavior and prefer a softer kind of joy, allowing the kids let loose is a great tool to get the images you want. As long as they are in a good mood, their smiles will be authentic and infectious so don’t forget to let them be slightly wilder than usual.

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

2. Energy

One of the common threads between kids all over the world is their incredible level of energy. If you truly want to get natural, real portraits of children then let them show you how energetic they are!

Life (and especially childhood) is full of motion and action, this is what you want to document. Running, twirling, making little sister swing… anything can work, as long as they move!

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

3. Jumping

If you’re familiar with my work, you might have seen this one coming. I’m pretty much obsessed with making kids jump and there is a reason for that.

First, because they love it, so I know I’ll always be successful when suggesting this kind of challenge. Second, because bouncing will help any child, even the most shy one, loosen up. And finally, because the resulting images can be crazy fun and full of impact!

It’s a wonderful trick when you need to get uncooperative siblings in the same frame. It’s such a fun, irresistible activity that they will totally forget that you are actually photographing them together.

Realted: 10 simple tips for photographing your child jumping on the bed

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

4. Mischief

Doing something that is usually forbidden in their everyday life will bring a huge smile to any kid’s face. It doesn’t have to be overly crazy, juts a little bit of mischief in the air is enough to jump-start the fun. Dancing on the kitchen table, using Mom’s make-up, dressing up with dad’s clothes or pouring whipped cream straight into your brother’s mouth… the sky is the limit!

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

5. Hidden

Your kids don’t want their picture taken today? Catch them at their own game. Make it a challenge: let them literally hide from you (behind the couch, behind the curtains, under the sheets…) and chase them around. It’s suddenly much more fun to be photographed!

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

6. The best props are already at home

I mentioned already that I’m not a fan of making kids pose. Well, I’m not a fan of using props either… Unless the props I’m using are already in the natural environment of the kids.

Children have this fascinating ability to find joy in the littlest things – use this to your advantage! The most boring household utensil can become a fabulous toy if you look at it the right way. The insane belly laughs you can get out of a toilet paper roll or a cardboard box are beyond belief!

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

7. Upside down

Even the most grumpy kid won’t be able to keep a serious face if you hold him upside down.

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

If you don’t have a helper available to hold the child for you, don’t worry, most children will be delighted if you ask them to do it by themselves.

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

8. Let’s dance

There’s nothing like good music to set a happy mood. I have a special Deezer playlist on my phone with my favorite music for photo sessions.

I’ll also ask the parents before the session which song is their children’s favorite at the moment to make sure I include it beforehand (if you’re photographing your own kids then you already know!). Then, when I need a little help to get the groove on, I’ll simply press play and watch them have the time of their life!

It’s unbelievable how a little bit of music can completely change the mood of a session. You don’t even have to make the kids dance – just listening to music will bring a smile to their face!

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

9. Funny faces

If you ask a kid to smile for you, you will usually get an ugly funny face instead. However, if you ask the kid to show you his best funny faces, there’s a good chance you will capture a perfect smile in the process. Especially if you laugh really hard and express very loudly how awful those faces are!

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

10. Being messy

Being messy is always fun, but being messy TOGETHER is simply irresistible!

You might have some serious tidying up to do after the fact, but I promise the giggles alone are totally worth it. Make sure to keep this special trick for the very end of your session!

The secret to getting natural, happy images of children is simply to forget about making them pose. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be guiding them at all, though. It means that instead of telling them how to sit or stand, you are going to give them something to DO.

Now, let’s spread the fun! Share your favorite non-poses with us in the comments!

Need more tips for infusing happiness and laughter into your photography sessions? My Capturing Joy workshop starts on June 5, click here to learn more and register!

About the Author:

Lisa Tichané is a lifestyle photographer specialized in kids, babies and family photography. Based in France she is also traveling internationally for commissioned advertising projects. Her style is fun, energetic and playful with a touch of mischief. She thrives to capture real life, true joy and wild carefree moments. She is a published author and the instructor of the Capturing Joy online workshop.

4 Comments

  1. Kelly Jun 09 2017 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    I would love to start photographing more lifestyle images in people’s homes but the trouble is that most real people don’t have all that natural light, nice, clean rooms, modern furniture, decor that is simple and stunning. I’d love to do this type of session if I could find families willing to do sessions in their home but most want to go outside and a lot of families don’t have very “pretty” spaces in their home to shoot in. How do you deal with this issue?

    • Lisa (Tout Petit Pixel) Jun 11 2017 at 2:50 am - Reply

      Hi Kelly, When families contact me for a lifestyle shoot I try to evaluate in advance whether this is feasible or not. Frankly, I don’t really worry about how pretty their space is because it’s their home and this is the place they are making memories in, so whatever the decor it’s meaningful to them, it doesn’t matter if we don’t have the same taste! What really matters though is how much available light we will have because this is the condition to good-quality images. One room is enough to make a successful session so when I talk to my clients on the phone before the session I ask them which room in their house has the best light, how big the windows are, if there is anything blocking the light in front of the window… And I ask them to take pictures of the room to help me evaluate everything myself. If I truly think that their house is a cave, I will convince them to choose another location.
      The images on the white bed that you are seeing in the article are taken in my natural light studio which is just a spare bedroom in my house. I use this room when I know that shooting at my client’s home isn’t an option, to give them the possibility to get fun indoor pictures in a fun and neutral environment!

  2. Vishnu Jun 09 2017 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I love the photos. May I also please request the settings and lens specifications for each of the photos you captured? (Especially the ones where kids are in mid air).

    • Lisa (Tout Petit Pixel) Jun 11 2017 at 2:53 am - Reply

      Hi Vishnu, thank you! When kids are jumping or being very active I try to keep my shutter speed over 1/500s (in the images above I was shooting at 1/640s or 1/800s when possible) because I love tack sharp images and freezing the movement. If I’m shooting indoors I will typically use an aperture of f/2.8 (not wider because with such a fast movement I would get too many OOF shots due to the very shallow depth of field – and not smaller because it would require a crazy high ISO). I adapt my ISO accordingly to get the propoer exposure 🙂 Hope that helps!

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