January Focus Photo: Portrait

We get so busy with our daily lives that sometimes it is easy to forget to focus on the most important things. Each month I’m going to post a photo idea to focus on something that I think is important to capture. I’ll also include some tips and ideas on making each focus photo better.  My hope it that you will have at least 12 new photographs that it might become favorites of 2016. This month I’m focusing on the portrait. The start of a new year is a wonderful time to get individual photos of each family member and I also like to include these in my Project Life title page (described in this post).

A portrait sounds like such a simple place to start and an easy photograph to takeunless it is kids that you are trying to photograph! My six year old finally pauses for about one and a half seconds for my camera and with my four year old it is even less.  I need to be ready and have a plan!  Here are my tips to share in hopes that you will capture your kids perfectly:


  • Plan ahead and think about clothing without giant logos (I’ve shared my love of PJ photos before, if clothing decisions stress you out go for PJs they work great!)
  • if taking indoors, look for a room with good lighting
  • If outdoors, avoid the midday full sun, opt for early morning or an hour before sunset
  • think about the time of day that your child is most agreeable or doing something he or she enjoys
  • know your settings on your camera ready before you start photographing the subject


  • don’t be intrusive or demanding- saying “smile” is not going to get you the genuine expression you want
  • engage in conversation and if possible continue to chat while you are taking the photograph
  • try find an angle where some light is reflecting in his or her eyes, this might require moving close to a window or rotating around until you see the catchlights reflecting


  • reward your subject when you are all done! My kids really don’t mind my camera because it usually comes out when they’re playing or we are engaged in something fun. Also, I reward cooperation with treats- a little trip to get ice cream after never hurts!

A few of my favorite portrait examples to share:

finding those awesome catchlight sparkling in the eyes


my favorite PJ style


showing off a moment in time with the first tooth lost


black and white portraits and shooting from above are two more favorite techniques for portraits


I hope you capture some photographs that you love.  If you’d like to share yours, please add a comment and share where I can view them.