DIY: Portraits of Your Children

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Sarah Kuhn

“Be Still.”

“Stop making that face!”

“Just one more photo for mommy…?”

This has been me many times despite beautiful locations, plenty of snacks, and the occasional bribe. When photographs come together, they reveal a connection and a glimpse of your child experiencing the world. You don’t need a thousand-dollar camera to get some print-worthy results. Instead bring patience, wipes, and possibly some natural bug spray. Read on to learn a handful of tips for photographing your sweet and unruly children.

1. Make it Fun

It doesn’t take kids long to get fed up with a camera lens or phone in their face. Try making the photos a game. Peek-a-boo is great for the littlest ones. For the next age set, let them pick a silly word to say as the photo cue or have them hunt for a pretty rock or leaf to show you.

2. Create a Series

Sometimes your child has an expression that you just love or one that makes you laugh. I personally can’t get enough of the pouty lips and crying faces. Either way, take a handful of your favorites and make a grid – as shown here. The next three images are matching in composition and draw attention to my son’s changing facial expressions.

3. Get in the Shade

We all love our sunny Colorado days, but that bright sun can add some not-so-beautiful shadows under eyes, hats, and even the cutest button noses. Look for a pretty spot under the shade of a tree or the side of a building. The rare overcast day is perfect for photos.

4. Try a New Perspective

Switch up your angle. Straight on photos can get redundant. Shoot from down low to give your young kiddo a big presence or take the photo from above to highlight just how little they are in the world.

5. Emphasize Details

Does your daughter have the teeniest tiniest little ponytail? Did your kindergartner just lose his first tooth? Are your toddler’s knees covered in band-aids (with or without booboos underneath)? Get in super close and snap that photo.

6. Show Context

If your kid just learned how to ride a pedal bike, built a beautiful sandcastle, or skied Highland’s Bowl (yikes!), try to include some of the scene in your frame. Context doesn’t mean clutter, so make sure there is not a chairlift tower coming out from your child’s head or a guy in a Speedo photo-bombing your beach scene.

7. Include Yourself

Hop in there, mom or dad. Relinquish control and pass the camera to your partner, friend, or complete stranger. It doesn’t even need to be a full-body image. Take a photo of your baby’s hand holding your finger or take a selfie of your sweet child sleeping in the crook of your arm. (Please note – I need to take my own advice! We completed this shoot, and I had only one partial photo of myself.) 

“Embrace the imperfections in your photographs: the grass-stained dress, the blurred hand, or the cut above your child’s eyebrow. These “flaws” make your photos authentic and true to life.”   Sarah Kuhn

Showcase Your Favorites

I have so many photographs on my computer, it is sometimes overwhelming. I try to select a few favorites every month or so and get them printed.

Artifact Uprising is one of my go-to resources for art-quality prints. They are an online company based in Denver. I love their signature paper stock which has the weight and feel of watercolor paper. They also offer easy design-online albums, like the one shown here of my family’s beach vacation. You can also find calendars, table-top boxes, and numerous framing options.

Written and photographed by Sarah Kuhn, art photographer

About Sarah Kuhn

Fine Art & Family Portrait Photographer