El Paso Children's Photography

more than just an image!

Tips for Having a Great Photo Session

Are you bringing your child  for a portrait session?

If so, here are some useful tips to help in creating the very best results from your child’s portrait session:

If your child is at all shy, be patient. We give them as much time as they (not you) need to warm up to me and my camera. It is very, very rare that even the most apprehensive child isn’t my buddy after twenty or thirty minutes. Parents are eager to please by urging the child on, and this never, ever helps. Let me create a bond with your child at their pace, not yours. Please.

(Most parents know this, and agree, but almost always have to be reminded about four times during the first five minutes of the portrait session) Also, try to keep the ‘variations’ to a minimum, starting with the most important poses. What do I mean? Child alone, child with sibling, child with grandpa, child with a different outfit, etc, etc… ‘you get the picture’. Children, especially younger ones, only give me so much time. When they say the session is over, it’s over. I can’t control that, so I try to get the key shots at first.

Please don’t answer for your child when he or she is asked a question. I try to bond with them by getting them to talk to me. I sometimes will reach out and “test” them to see how they will respond (if they reach back to hold my hand/finger). It tells me if I’m gaining their tryst yet.

– Never, ever say “smile.” Forget it. That’s my job. Besides “cheese” is usually a fake or forced smile. I try to get them smiling at other things that create “real smiles.” Goofy faces, funny stories, slapstick, jelly beans, etc… you know, kid stuff!!! Stuff I’m good at. (I really am a kid at heart)

I encourage any ideas or props in your session. Many parents bring in one or two outfits or props. Remember changing younger kids usually changes their moods too. Try to keep it simple.

They grow up so fast!


Some of the latest baby and children’s portraits on our facebook page. CLICK HERE

Expecting a baby? Maybe a maternity session?


The Babies First Year Wall Panel CLICK HERE for pdf file.

See examples HERE

The most asked questions at El Paso Portraits Photography & Design regarding children’s portraits:

1- What should my child wear?
This is entirely up to you. We do encourage you to keep the clothing changes to a minimum, perhaps no more that three, especially with younger, more exuberant children. Remember that we want to focus on your child’s face.

2- How long will the session take?
We take all the time it will require to capture the best expressions and poses. We urge you not to rush your children, let them warm up at their own pace, not yours. Most sessions are done in 30 minutes. Some may take longer, so it’s important that you relax and enjoy.

3- My child won’t smile, what should I do?
The very best and most favorite expressions with many clients are always the more serious, contemplative looks. Especially with children. Notice all the classic works by master painters from years ago to modern artists and photographers of today. You almost never see big toothy smiles. The best way to get great smiles is by playing games, singing songs, anything they love to do. Never a “sit and say cheese” approach.

4- Should I be present during the session?
For older children we usually create the best results when Mom and Dad are not around. For younger babies, it’s always best to have you help out in the studio. Only one parent is required. More can come if you wish.

5- Can we have our dog in the picture?
Absolutely! Pet are family, too and are always welcomed!

6- My child is very shy (or is very active). What should I do?
Nothing. You can’t control it and nor should you try. They are coming into a strange place with people they don’t know and all kinds of strange equipment and lights. Your best approach is to be patient.

They will warm up to us, or settle down, in time. And this will happen at their own pace. It’s important not to make a big fuss about the studio beforehand. Act like nothing is out of the norm. Also, when we ask them questions, let them answer for themselves.

April always greets you by talking with the parents first and ignoring the child for a minute or two. There is a reason for this. It sends a message to the child that you and April are friends and you talk with her just like all your other friends. It conveys safety.

April will then squat down to ask your child a question. Please let them answer. She’ll also offer a hand to see if they are receptive. Never coach your child to smile or to say “say cheese”. Never rush them or urge them on.

My pictures didn’t turn out the way I expected them to, what now?

I promise that you must absolutely love your pictures, or you don’t pay. It’s that simple. Although it doesn’t happen all that often, I will always offer to re-shoot any session that failed to meet your expectations.

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