5 Secrets To Success For Hobbyists And Pros // Photographing Children & Families

When a friend or client tells me they are interested in learning photography, similar to when they tell me they are having a baby, my first reaction is YAY! Congrats! And then immediately after I feel an urge to help them with their expectations. If you have a child, I'm sure you know what I mean. It's just harder than you might imagine. And also more rewarding than you can fathom. The path to success (in any endeavor) begins with realistic expectations.I wish someone would have broken it down for me when I started both my photography AND my pregnancy :). If we know what is ahead, where we might need help, and where our strengths might lie, we are more prepared to take on the journey. So here are my top 5 "secrets for success" for anyone looking to take on children's/family photography (as a hobby or as a business):

  1. Mastering your camera equipment is essential and necessary but knowing how to work with children can be even more important. I don't find this to be true when photographing landscapes, still life, or even adult couples. But with children who usually want absolutely nothing to do with having their picture taken (and who do not sit still), the ultimate challenge is definitely in engaging your subjects. Expect to have a learning curve in mastering your equipment followed by another curve in using that equipment under chaotic (but awesome) conditions.

  2. Remarkable photographs are made with remarkable use of light. After I learned how to use my equipment, I made the mistake of jumping straight to heavy filters to give my photos some oomph (or so I thought that's what the filters were doing). I should have been trying to master the different ways of using light. Heavy editing has nothing on good lighting. Don't make my mistake. YEARS were wasted.

  3. Your own children are harder to photograph than other people's children. It's the curse of all hobbyist photographers and business owners alike. Our own kids are just so used to us and our camera that they couldn't care less about what we say or how we wiggle around trying to get them to laugh. Don't be discouraged. Our kids are an entirely different animal than someone else's. Whenever you are feeling down about your ability to engage children, practice on others.

  4. Copying, comparing, or trying to duplicate someone else's work &/or vision is the best way to fail. Before you pick up a camera, ask yourself these two questions: Why do you want to learn photography? & What is your idea of a perfect picture? Write down those answers, tapes them to the wall, and use them as your guide as you learn and grow. Ignore what other people are doing...comparing and copying another's work will do nothing but leave you feeling down and exhausted. It's a waste of time. Have fun with your hobby and grow in the direction YOU want.

  5. Your artistic success has nothing to do with the business of photography. You can be a stellar photographer and only do it as a hobby. On the flipside, you can have a thriving photography business and not be a very strong photographer. Never judge your technical or artistic merits by how much income your photography makes (or doesn't make) you.


{Also helpful: How To Get Kids To Smile in Photographs: NEVER SAY CHEESE!}

Have I scared you? Ha! I hope not! Photography is so much fun but like any art, you can easily find yourself getting down about it. I want to help you start off on the right foot and not make all the mistakes I did.

I hope these points will help you in your journey! You will be great and I couldn't be more excited for you.