with Courtney Slazinik
7 Tips for Photographing Your Older Children
7 Tips for Photographing Your Older Children

Do you ever notice how many selfies your child takes each day? As the mother of two teen girls, it seems like they are forever taking selfie shots, whether it’s for Instagram or just to send a silly Snapchat to a friend.

We just returned from a trip to Los Angeles and the number of selfies my girls took on this trip was incredible! It was unending … in front of the Hollywood sign, at Griffith Observatory, on Rodeo Drive and in front of a pink-colored wall, but the moment I asked to get a picture of the two of my girls together, you can’t imagine the moans and groans I got from them.

A MUST read if you have older kids and struggle with getting genuine expressions from them in photographs.  Read - 7 Tips for Photographing Your Older Children

Read more: Photographing Teens: Why I Want To Shoot My Kids Now More Than Ever

It was like some kind of torture. I’m sure this is something many of you can identify with.

That moment as a mom when you pull out your DSLR and the complaints start rolling in. I can tell you firsthand, this has been my experience on more than one occasion.

I personally started my photography journey when my kids were older, so I never had the experience of practicing on little ones who don’t really mind a camera in their face. Capturing innocent play, a cheesy grin or even their little pouty face can be so cute.

However, the pout of a disgruntled teen with a camera in their face … not so much. And then you get statements like “My hair is a mess”, “I don’t have makeup on” or something as plain as “I don’t want my photo taken today.”

This can make it challenging for the parent who wants to practice their photography skills or just get some good candid shots of their teen.

Through my own experience with my girls, I’ve come up with 7 tips to keep in mind when photographing your older children.

  • No.
    Prepare your child for the shoot

    If I have something particular in mind, I’ve learned that if I tell my girls in advance, they get more excited about the shoot rather than if I sprung it on them.

    Recently I put this into practice. I had two different props I was anxious to use for some photos, a hat and a flower crown. I mentioned to the girls how I would love for them to use these props for photos, describing what I envisioned.

    They got excited thinking about the session and when it actually happened, they were so into it. The resulting images are some of my favorites at the moment.

    tish 1

    tish 1.1

  • No.
    No means no

    There have been times I’ve asked my girls if we could take some photos and they say no. I’ve been disappointed with their answer, continued to push them and the resulting images were less than desirable.

    Forced smiles and begrudging attitudes do not make for great photos. Though not every photo requires a smile, you don’t want to make it a bad experience.

    Respect your kids and their wishes. A little respect can go a long way.

    tish 2

  • No.
    Photograph the everyday

    Don’t forget to photograph the every day details such as your child reading a book, being on their cellphone, lying in their bed or doing homework. These may seem insignificant but in reality, they are the minute details of everyday life that we want to remember.

    Trust me, having a teen ready to leave for college in less than 50 days can put this all in perspective for you real fast.

    tish 3

  • No.
    Capture relationships with friends

    Friendships are so important during tween/teen years. They laugh together, cry together, confide in one another and are there to support each other. It’s not only important to document this time in their life, but also who was important to your child, those who really mean something to them.

    Capture them laughing, hanging out … capture their real life as it is now, including their interactions and their genuine expressions, just them being themselves with one another, whether they are looking at the camera or not.

    tish 4

    tish 4.1

  • No.
    Don’t forget the details

    As a parent, you may well know the different expressions of your child. Not just the “smile for the camera face” but expressions unique to them. Times when they are deep in thought, tired or even annoyed. Eyelashes, a favorite ring they wear, ringlets in their hair, or a favorite jersey or pair of sneakers.

    Capture it all … anything that will allow you to remember this time in their lives.

    tish 5

  • No.
    Don’t forget to have fun

    Being silly or acting a little goofy can put any person at ease. Let’s face it, it can be intimidating having a camera in our face, even as the child of a photographer.

    Remember to talk to your child and give them positive feedback about the experience and how they are doing. Show them the back of the camera now and then so they can see for themselves.

    Chances are, the more encouragement you give them, the more likely they will be to loosen up and give you some amazing shots. If you are relaxed and having fun, they in turn will relax.

    Don’t forget to take those silly shots as well. They make for great memories!

    tish 6

  • No.
    Use what you’ve got

    We don’t all carry our DSLR with us everywhere we go, but chances are we have our phones on us at least 99.9% of the time. Don’t be afraid to use it.

    Not every photo has to be blown into a 24 x 36, but the picture quality of phones today is pretty unbelievable. After all, it’s not always the posed, perfect photo we want for memories, but capturing the every day moments are just as important.

    There are so many options for sharing and printing these as well. Not only can you get prints, but you can make books, calendars, magnets and more straight from your phone.

    There are multiple apps you can use to edit your shots on your phone or you can import them to your home computer to edit in photoshop or lightroom.

    tish 7

With some patience and a little understanding, photographing our teens doesn’t have to be quite as difficult as it may seem. Though photographing them at this stage in their life can be a bit more challenging, taking the time to capture those memories will be worth it in the long run. Their childhood will be over before you know it and to have captured this time in their life will be priceless.

  • Suzanne
    July 25, 2016 at 9:02 AM

    WOW! A post that speaks dearly to me. As the mom of a nineteen year old daughter who also takes countless selfies – asking her to take a picture with me or for me is equivalent to asking her to perform her own root canal. I’ll have to keep all this in mind as I continue to “try” to take pictures of her.
    Thanks for the tips!

    • Tish
      July 29, 2016 at 10:13 PM

      Suzanne, i am so glad this post was helpful to you!! i know exactly where you are coming from! my girls are 18 and almost 16 and the daily selfie count is ridiculous!! haha i hope there is something in the article that will help you capture your daughter. i always tell my girls, there will come a day when you will be so happy I took all these photos!

  • Sheri
    August 1, 2016 at 9:07 PM

    Great article Tish!! Loved the tips you shared, and always enjoy seeing pictures of your girls!

    • Tish
      August 5, 2016 at 8:35 PM

      thank you so much Sheri!!! you are so sweet!! thanks for reading it!

  • Patsy James
    August 4, 2016 at 8:17 PM

    Great tip I’m going to try some with my grandsons. Love photography. Wish I had more time for it. Favorite pics are flower’s and my grandson. Your right great to have my pics of him right from delivery room. He is 5yrs old and I’m still take his picture every change I get.

    • Tish
      August 5, 2016 at 8:37 PM

      thank you Patsy!! photos are such a gift. i’m so thankful to have photos to look back on. they spark so many great memories!! keep taking those photos of your grandson! you will all be so grateful for them Patsy! even he will have fun looking back at them! :)

  • ann martinez
    January 29, 2017 at 12:35 AM

    I would love to see a post on how to photograph larger groups of teens like those
    group shots we all try to get at home, on someone’s staircase or in a restaurant before
    high school dances especially in the winter time when there is not the possibility
    of great light or taking the pix outdoors. Thanks!

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