Take great photos of your kids: Tips from our staff photographer

michael goderre lies on floor to take a photo of a patient
Michael isn't afraid to meet kids like Simon at their level to get a great photo. (Hannah Gilray/Boston Children's)

From holiday photos to first-day-of-school snaps, there’s no shortage of opportunities to take pictures of your kids. The advent of smartphones has made photo sessions less of a chore for parents and children alike — but how to do you make the leap from taking garden-variety pictures to making lasting memories? We sat down with Michael Goderre, senior staff photographer at Boston Children’s Hospital, to get some expert insight.

Get at their level.

You should see eye-to-eye with your subject — literally. “You don’t want to be towering above them,” says Michael. He should know: At 6 feet, 7 inches, he’s taller than most adults, let alone the children he photographs. Be willing to crouch down, sit on the floor, crawl around, and do what it takes to meet your child at their level.

You should see eye-to-eye with your subject — literally. “You don’t want to be towering above them,” says Michael. He should know: At 6 feet, 7 inches, he’s taller than most adults, let alone the children he photographs. Be willing to crouch down, sit on the floor, crawl around, and do what it takes to meet your child at their level.

You should see eye-to-eye with your subject — literally. “You don’t want to be towering above them,” says Michael. He should know: At 6 feet, 7 inches, he’s taller than most adults, let alone the children he photographs. Be willing to crouch down, sit on the floor, crawl around, and do what it takes to meet your child at their level.

Go natural.

For best results, shoot in natural light — and turn off the flash. Likewise, don’t be tempted by special iPhone settings. Portrait mode can be wonderful for snapping stationary subjects, but isn’t the best for those in motion, like busy kids.

For best results, shoot in natural light — and turn off the flash. Likewise, don’t be tempted by special iPhone settings. Portrait mode can be wonderful for snapping stationary subjects, but isn’t the best for those in motion, like busy kids.

For best results, shoot in natural light — and turn off the flash. Likewise, don’t be tempted by special iPhone settings. Portrait mode can be wonderful for snapping stationary subjects, but isn’t the best for those in motion, like busy kids.

Take it easy.

While it helps to be prepared, flexibility is key when it comes to photographing kids. “You should have a general idea of what you want, but be willing to wing it,” says Michael. “With kids, everything can — and probably will — change.” If you’re at the playground, for example, you might not get the posed shot you originally hoped for, but you just might get some fantastic photos your child having fun on the swings.

While it helps to be prepared, flexibility is key when it comes to photographing kids. “You should have a general idea of what you want, but be willing to wing it,” says Michael. “With kids, everything can — and probably will — change.” If you’re at the playground, for example, you might not get the posed shot you originally hoped for, but you just might get some fantastic photos your child having fun on the swings.

While it helps to be prepared, flexibility is key when it comes to photographing kids. “You should have a general idea of what you want, but be willing to wing it,” says Michael. “With kids, everything can — and probably will — change.” If you’re at the playground, for example, you might not get the posed shot you originally hoped for, but you just might get some fantastic photos your child having fun on the swings.

Eliminate distractions.

Friends and relatives may try to channel their inner Sears Portrait Studio photographer by making funny faces or waving toys at your child. But such well-meaning gestures can backfire, distracting your child. Ask others to give you privacy if possible, and offer to show them the photos when you’re done.

Friends and relatives may try to channel their inner Sears Portrait Studio photographer by making funny faces or waving toys at your child. But such well-meaning gestures can backfire, distracting your child. Ask others to give you privacy if possible, and offer to show them the photos when you’re done.

Friends and relatives may try to channel their inner Sears Portrait Studio photographer by making funny faces or waving toys at your child. But such well-meaning gestures can backfire, distracting your child. Ask others to give you privacy if possible, and offer to show them the photos when you’re done.

Keep them engaged.

Michael likes to ease his way into a photo session by gently engaging his subjects and asking them a little about themselves. You can take a similar approach by talking about positive topics with your child during the shoot, like their favorite sports team, TV show, or pet, for example. One simple way to a younger child’s attention: Show them your camera or smartphone and then show them again after you take the photo. “Most little kids love to see pictures of themselves,” Michael explains.

Michael likes to ease his way into a photo session by gently engaging his subjects and asking them a little about themselves. You can take a similar approach by talking about positive topics with your child during the shoot, like their favorite sports team, TV show, or pet, for example. One simple way to a younger child’s attention: Show them your camera or smartphone and then show them again after you take the photo. “Most little kids love to see pictures of themselves,” Michael explains.

Michael likes to ease his way into a photo session by gently engaging his subjects and asking them a little about themselves. You can take a similar approach by talking about positive topics with your child during the shoot, like their favorite sports team, TV show, or pet, for example. One simple way to a younger child’s attention: Show them your camera or smartphone and then show them again after you take the photo. “Most little kids love to see pictures of themselves,” Michael explains.

Know your limits.

Sometimes, it’s best to call in a professional — or at least a friend or neighbor. If you have multiple kids and find that you’re having trouble getting them all to sit still for photos, especially those meant for holiday cards, call in outside reinforcement. Children are often more likely to behave for people outside their immediate family.

Sometimes, it’s best to call in a professional — or at least a friend or neighbor. If you have multiple kids and find that you’re having trouble getting them all to sit still for photos, especially those meant for holiday cards, call in outside reinforcement. Children are often more likely to behave for people outside their immediate family.

Sometimes, it’s best to call in a professional — or at least a friend or neighbor. If you have multiple kids and find that you’re having trouble getting them all to sit still for photos, especially those meant for holiday cards, call in outside reinforcement. Children are often more likely to behave for people outside their immediate family.

Be patient.

Accept that you’re not going to get the perfect shot on your first try — and maybe even on your tenth. Remember that your goal is to make and capture positive memories, and that the experience should be fun for everyone involved.

Accept that you’re not going to get the perfect shot on your first try — and maybe even on your tenth. Remember that your goal is to make and capture positive memories, and that the experience should be fun for everyone involved.

Accept that you’re not going to get the perfect shot on your first try — and maybe even on your tenth. Remember that your goal is to make and capture positive memories, and that the experience should be fun for everyone involved.

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