Depending on the age of the kiddo you’re trying to take pictures of, the tips I have to offer will change, but these are based on my own experience!
Babies: if they’re smily, try to get them to smile at you by talking to them, rattles, etc. If someone else is trying to get them to smile, have them stand directly behind you so the baby winds up looking at the camera.
A few prop/pose ideas: On a chair like this picture of Derik:
Use the baby’s carseat and tuck a baby blanket in it. You can do the same with the corner of a couch.
Older babies: (Sitting up, crawling, but not quite walking) Don’t always think the baby has to look directly at the camera to get a great picture.
Definitely keep talking to get the baby to smile or laugh.
Toddlers and Otherwise Very Busy Kids: My #1 tip is stay away and use a long lens! (lol!) Jackson is very curious about my camera and always tries to grab the lens. If you have a point & shoot camera, zoom in and stay further away.
Also, a lot of times the kids this age will give you a super cheesy grin when you ask them to smile. So maybe try some more natural pictures. Candids are my favorites at this age. You can get them to look at you, but try snapping lots of pictures in rapid succession because you’ll get a better chance at a really great shot.
Older Kids: Start with more “serious” pictures, since they’ll take more direction from you, but toward the end of photographing them, give them something fun to do, like a jumping shot. Kids LOVE this because it breaks up what they consider “boring” photos. =) I told these guys after we got some shots for their mom, we’d do some “fun” pictures, and they had a blast!
Overall Tips: Try different angles. Get high, get low. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try out different spots in your house, outside. Simple backgrounds are best, they won’t distract. Full length pictures are great, but close-ups are great too. Get closer to your kiddo’s face, and focus your camera on their eyes. Make sure there is plenty of light around, so you won’t have to use a flash, since it tends to wash out their faces. Try to get “catchlights” in their eyes, they’re the reflected light spots in their eyes. I got these catchlights in Derik’s eyes because there was a window behind me, and I didn’t block the light with my body while I was taking the picture.
Just remember, digital pictures are FREE until you print them, that’s the beauty of digital. So who cares if you took 200 shots and only 30 turned out. That’s about 25 more pictures than you would get at a run-of-the-mill photo studio, and yours didn’t cost you anything!
If you all have something you’d like to see as a tutorial, let me know! Email me at blessedroadphotography (at) gmail (dot) com, or leave a comment with your ideas!