Three Helpful Tips for Photographing Shy Kids

Photograph of a shy boy in St. Petersburg, FL.

It’s common for parents to worry about booking a studio photography session for their shy child, but I’ve mastered the skill set needed to capture those picture perfect images no matter how reserved they may be. If you’re a fellow photographer, here are three helpful tips for photographing shy kids photographing shy kids. If you’re a parent of a shy kiddo, read on to understand why you shouldn’t hesitate to schedule your Fun Sized Session. 

As a dad of three and long term pre-K church volunteer, I have tons of experience being silly enough to coax out giggles, confused looks, and sweet faces from kids. Sometimes it just requires a bit more skill and patience to really connect with those shy kiddos and make the most of our studio time together. 

Photograph of a shy boy in St. Petersburg, FL.

Start slow & keep their grown-up close.

When starting a studio session with a shy child, I always begin with them sitting in their grown-up’s lap. For some kids, separating from mom or dad can immediately cause stress, and our goal is a fun experience from start to finish. By snapping some photos while they feel safe and secure, I can begin to build trust and give them a chance to adjust to the environment. If the child starts to show signs of stress, I always recommend taking a break.

This is also a great time to show them my camera and let them take a couple of photos. That’s just one other way that I start to build connection. 

Curious little boy in glasses

Match their energy. 

Some kids respond best to high energy and top notch silliness. Other kiddos need a calmer energy that is playful, but not overwhelming. For shy children, I usually start with some low energy playfulness, like peek-a-boo from behind the camera. This usually gives me a chance to determine their level of energy and comfortability in the new space.

If the child begins to increase his or her energy, I increase mine. We may go from peekaboo, to silly animal sounds, to running or jumping. The most important thing is, I let them be the guide. A successful studio session with young kids really requires flexibility from all the grown-ups in the room and patience to allow the little one to have fun in their own way, in their own time. 

Young child laughing during a photo session in St. Pete, FL.

Always have surprises.

What kid doesn’t love a surprise, right? I mean, even the most reserved child lights up when a balloon appears out of no where. Keeping a few surprises on hand, like balloons and squeakers, allows me to keep the session moving without requiring the child to sit still and smile in order to capture great images. Many of the best photos in my Fun Sized Sessions come after balloon throwing moments when the child is having fun and has basically forgotten about the camera altogether. 

That’s it for my list of three helpful tips for photographing shy kids. And these tips are just the tip of the iceberg! I’ve learned so many techniques during my 11 years as a child and family photographer. I’ll be sure to share more guidance in future blog posts. And for more tips related to photography, check out my other blog posts here.

If you’re ready to book your kid’s Fun Sized Session in Nashville, Tampa, St Pete, or Atlanta, I have spots currently open in September and October 2023. Spots are filling quickly, so don’t hesitate to get your child scheduled today.

If you’re still unsure if I can bring out your shy child’s personality on camera, you can check out my Google reviews here! Most of them discuss how I was able to put a shy child at ease or make a perfect connection with a kiddo who doesn’t love being photographed.