Home Photography Ideas: Child Portraits Simplified

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Photographing the family is the reason many people buy a camera in the first place. However, taking portraits of young children can seem more difficult than it’s worth, especially when it comes to your own children who refuse to pose or smile as soon as you pull out your camera!

The key is to have fun outside – much easier now that the warm weather is here as we can head out to the back garden or even take a camera on daily walks. And, since kids don’t like to sit still, you have to shoot fast before they run away or get bored.

Grab your telephoto zoom, as it allows you to shoot from a distance so you don’t clutter your little subjects. And, by using a wide aperture, it will help capture a shallower depth of field to blur the surroundings for a more dreamy portrait style.

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A 200mm focal length is ideal, and you’ll need to match that number with a fast shutter speed to overcome camera shake and blurry shots. On the full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark IV we use, we used a shutter speed of at least 1/200s to combat camera shake – albeit on crop sensor cameras , you should aim for a shutter speed longer than 1/320 second.

Use specific AF points to focus on children’s faces or eyes for sharp results – and if your camera has face or eye detection AF, it can do all the hard work for you and keep the features sharp even when the little ones are on the move!

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Simple steps yield great results

01 Camera setup

We shot in aperture priority mode with an aperture of f/2.8. As it was a little dark under all the tree cover, we needed our ISO setting at 640 to achieve a shutter speed of 1/200 sec. If it’s darker, increase your ISO even further to get a fast enough shutter speed.

02 Telephoto zoom

Using a long focal length of 200mm, with a large aperture, will really reduce depth of field and blur the foreground and background detail around your subjects to make sure they stand out . We used the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM, but any telephoto zoom will do.

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Use your widest aperture and move your subject away from the background for dreamy, blurry backgrounds

Use your widest aperture and move your subject away from the background for dreamy, blurry backgrounds
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Even with a wide aperture, if your subject is close to the background, you won't get the dream separation

Even with a wide aperture, if your subject is close to the background, you won’t get the dream separation

03 Blur the background

A wide aperture of f/2.8 or f/4, depending on your lens, will help blur the background behind your small subjects, but make sure they’re a good distance away (at least 25-30 feet ) background elements – otherwise they will remain too visible in the frame.

04 Get at their eye level

Descend to children’s eye level for best results. It also reduces the amount of foreground in the shot. Getting a family member to stand behind you making funny faces is a great way to get a fun reaction from the kids – that’s what we did for our main image at the top of the page. page !

Be sure to have fun!

01 Aaaaand… action!

Since children rarely sit still, make it a virtue and film the action as they run through the fields or woods. It gives them something fun to do and also gives you some great expressions to capture – but you’ll have to be quick!

02 Silly Poses!

Children often don’t smile kindly for photos, but they will happily make silly faces. It can be frustrating at times, but have fun with them instead by showing them the pictures as you go – they’ll enjoy seeing the silly faces and want to start over!

Read more:

The best lenses for portraits
Best telephoto: the best zooms for your camera
The best 70-200mm lens: the best constant aperture telephoto lenses

Tracey L. Sweeney