Want to get those adorable boys in the photos too? Styling isn’t just for the girls. Let me share some ways I get my own little guy dressed and cooperating with me. Follow these 5 tips for photographing boys.
Tips for Photographing Boys
1. Let the boys pick the props by offering a choice of two or three things.
Something that works well for me is to pick two or three things that I think will fit with the location then ask my son which one he wants to bring along for the shoot. This way, he has something to play with that will occupy him and I know it is something that will fit with my vision for the shoot. We both win.
In the example below, I knew I wanted to shoot in this beautiful open area where we go hiking. I will often just say that we are exploring on an adventure. So, it made sense to me to grab the little globe as one of the options to bring along.
I love thinking about ideas for props for photographing boys like tents, vintage planes, kites, huge balloons, vintage cars.
2. Bring along a friend and her boys (but coordinate clothes too).
I have a few local photographer friends and we like to get together with the kids, shoot, and chat. It is fun to coordinate locations, ideas, and styling with them too. So, next time you meet up with a friend for a playdate coordinate clothes too and it will make it that much easier to get shots that you like of all the kids.
On this day, we knew we wanted photos with the red phone booth so we talked about having the boys all wear something in the blue color family. This way we knew that if they were all in the frame together they would coordinate with each other + the setting.
3. Give them something to do.
It isn’t as interesting to pose just to pose so I try to bring along something that my son can do that could also possibly add to the story or the styling. One prop that I think works well for photos and that my son also likes to play with is my collection of vintage cameras. He likes to pretend to use them to take photos of me when I am actually taking photos of him. This also gives me a chance to custom set the white balance, play around with settings, and focus on composition. Because he is engaged with something he isn’t just standing there with a forced smile plastered on his face. Instead, he is playing and I have time to slow down and get the shot that I want. Plus, I just think it is cute that he likes cameras as much as I do right now!
It can also be something that is in the area where you want to shoot…when we went to the orange grove my son was super happy getting to hold the oranges and another day I let him have an Orange Crush soda for the first time. I just suggest that whatever it is that you are having them do while you shoot goes with your vision for the session.
4. Add in layers to the clothes just like with girls.
It isn’t easy to get my t-shirt loving boy into a button up or something more stylish. But, when I involve him in the getting dressed part it usually goes better. Recently, I picked out a hat that I wanted him to wear. He wasn’t interested at all! I asked him if he would wear it for 5 minutes then he could take it off. This way I got my shots and he didn’t have to really wear the hat. This also meant I was carrying the hat pretty much the whole time we were in the canyon shooting! Another thing I try is offering choices like in #1 above (I guess I use that parenting tip more than I think!). Anyway, I will often pick out two shirts and ask which one he wants to wear. This way I know they both work for me and my vision plus he will be comfortable, happy and feel like he has control over what he is wearing.
5. Capture them just doing what they do.
In an effort to improve your photography skills it can be easy to forget all the reasons why you wanted to learn in the first place. For me, one of the biggest reasons was to capture all those memories with my family. So I am working on getting back out to just photograph my son doing what he likes to do. When he is engaged in something like reading or playing he doesn’t mind as much that I have my camera out. So let them have the stick to dig in the dirt, give them the hose to run through, get out the chalk or toys then just snap away as they play happily!
Read more tips on photographing kids
– The Unexpected Everyday
– Photographing Children in Less Than 7 minutes
– Toddler Photography: 8 Ideas to Capture those Early Years
As a mother of two boys (and a girl) I love these tips! There are times when they are super cooperative, and others when they would rather have a root canal than get their picture taken. (Of course, neither has actually had a root canal so they really don’t know.) :)
Oh Kimberly, I can totally relate! There are some days where I know it is best to just put the camera down & save it for another day…those root canal type days! :D
Great tips Allison and you know i am a big fan of your primary model! :)
Thanks Gigi!!! <3
As a mum to 4 boys I whole heartily agree with ‘Give them something to do’! Love the other tips :)
As a mom to four boys, you probably have lots of great tips to share too!!!
LOL! I think you covered everything ;)
“Capture them just doing what they do,” was my favorite and can apply to all kids. Thank you for the great post!
Thank you Jean! I am glad you found it helpful!
Your lighting is excellent Allison. It’s simple and natural. It’s great to get away from the stiffly-posed portraits and create photographs around an activity, but great lighting is still great lighting and makes any pose so much better.
Being a male photographer in an niche of portrait photography that is dominated by female photographers, it is good to see male subjects as well. LOL.
Thanks for reminding the readers to photograph what’s important.
Thank you Bruce! I agree, it is so important to find the light and then the other pieces fall into place so much easier!
Thank you Allison. These tips are great! I still find photographing children the most difficult… but rewarding nonetheless.
Thank you Blue! I agree that photography children can be challenging but when you get those images that you love it is totally worth it!
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