Props, Or not?

This may be an un-popular opinion. But here we go. I hate photography props! Back when I started photography Pinterest was becoming very popular! So started- the Pinterest photography prop movement. All moms and photographers got their ideas from Pinterest; and it included chairs, benches, tents, pots, lanterns, you name it. I look back at some of the photos I made, and it just wasn't me.

Fast forward to today- many photographers still do this for seasonal mini sessions, newborn and studio sessions. But for the purpose of this blog (a tool to help parents photograph their children in a beautiful and meaningful way) I'm going to recommend NOT. So you can stop here if don't agree, or read on.

I want my photos to stand the test of time. When taking photos of your own children- they'll be photographed in the environment around them (home) which already marks the era they're living in. We don't need to drive that home with awkward props. So focus more on subtle backgrounds, emotional story telling, or anything outdoors when photographing your own children! Visual story telling with kids can also include their favorite toys, books, and stuffed animals!

Now don't think I didn't partake in many prop photos over the years and have slightly regretted them. I'll share a few here of my own kids. Although they're still darling and I'm glad I have these; it's just so much lace, floral, and green!

Photo Session Outfits

I may also have an unpopular opinion here. But I don't like spending a ton of money on photoshoot outfits. For my kids I air on the side of frequent sessions vs the perfect outfit. About every other year, as a family, we hire a professional photographer and do opt to buy nice outfits.

Throughout the year when photographing at home- I never ask my kids to change. In fact, my youngest will most likely be wearing stripes, polka dots, floral, and cowgirl boots with un-brushed hair. Take the photos! Its classic, and it will make you smile every time you look back at those authentic captures.

When we go exploring, on vacations, or on a mission to create some nice portraits of the kids I may try and have a little more pull in what they're wearing. Bright colors, graphics, and stripes never really capture well so those stay at home. Soft patterns and muted colors are my favorites. Different textured fabrics translate really well into photographs too such as: knitted sweaters, courdoroy, and velvet. One of my favorite for girls is anything that has movement so long dresses or skirts that will move when they run or twirl!

Pro-tip- If you plan on printing and framing your photos for home think about the colors in your home. Our family photo outfits are usually based around colors that I want up on the walls because it compliments our home decor.

Posing Kids

There are so many tips and tricks to posing kids, I could write a book! But to keep it simple I have a couple different categories depending on what you're aiming to capture.

At home- make sure your camera is out frequently. I've said this before and I'll keep repeating myself. My kids tend to ignore the camera and just be themselves and that's what I want for those at-home lifestyle sessions! If I'm inspired by the light at home, I might pose them a little. I like to say "freeze!", and pretend to spray glue on them. Then I physically move them around, or make them hug their sibling. They LOVE this game! As I'm snapping away they might be giggling but eventually they relax and I can get a sweet capture!

Outside for a more professional looking portrait- distraction, action, and simple guiding! Distraction is so great at any age. Look at flowers, bugs, talk about everything while you're taking pictures. Every once in awhile you can say "look over here and smile".

Action is fun for any age as well. Prompt fun shots by saying "run towards me", "skip", "twirl" or any other game you can think of. Keep it fun but not crazy!

Simple guiding would be to ask them to move towards the light or cross their legs, or sit here. This requires a little more paying attention and is best for older ages. But once they get the hang of it, they'll be happy to cooperate. Especially if they are promised to do silly faces at the end of each session. Its always a win win!!


—Lisa Magladry of Modern Image Photography