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Capturing Authentic Children Portraits

Lesson 7 of 20

Photographing The One Who Doesn't Want To Be There

Tamara Lackey

Capturing Authentic Children Portraits

Tamara Lackey

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Lesson Info

7. Photographing The One Who Doesn't Want To Be There

Lesson Info

Photographing The One Who Doesn't Want To Be There

The one who doesn't want to be there, that's different than the one who feels everyone, this doesn't wanna be there, (laughs) this is not going to be changed by simply changing the stimulation that's coming in, I actually have to do something to bring this child back to me, so in this one, the child who just doesn't want to be there is basically telling me by the way they look and their expressions, (laughs) that this is not the situation for them and they'd like to go away now, you see this a lot with teenagers, with fathers (laughs), with babies and children, so in this case, because I know they don't wanna be there, I first and foremost get the shot I get, 'cause I love these looks, I love the look of I don't wanna be there and I'm always getting that shot, 'cause it's just beautiful and fun and cool and it's what mom and dad recognize, that's who they are today, in two years, this child's maybe not this at all and this, which might have been annoying then is now adorable a couple o...

f years later and I've had that too, we've rereleased images, where clients have been like, (gasps) "She doesn't even do that anymore, "I forgot about that lower lip, "yes, yes, yes, let me get that shot." So in this case, when I have that, it's either really obvious or it's just a little more subtle, "I'll sit here, I'll do this, "I still look good, but I don't want to be there," how am I working with this, how am I working with this child? Well, here's an example, the image on the left, "I don't want to be here, (laughs) "Why are you making me do this, Mom, what did I do to you?" The image on the right, what I'm doing is I'm literally saying to her, got it, you don't wanna be here, we have about 10 seconds to get a shot and in 10 seconds, you're gone, 10, nine, eight, how's it gonna feel, when you're outta here? Seven, six, where are you gonna go, what are you gonna do? Five, four, aren't you so glad to say goodbye to me forever? Three, two and I'll get, "Okay, that's funny," I'll get that and I get that a lot, especially with teens, the teen who thinks it's super uncool to show up for a photo shoot, some teens love that, they're the superstar, they're really dynamic, other ones are like, "This is so uncool, "I could be at the mall with my friends, "or I could be Insta Snap Chatting," that child, I'm gonna say to them, how much does it suck, that you had to be brought here today? (laughs) Like honestly, me too, I was gonna do blah, blah, blah, I'm gonna connect with them, I'm gonna acknowledge their experience, but try not like act like it's not real, how am I gonna take an authentic portrait, if I'm acting like what's so obvious isn't real? You have to name it, address it, connect with them in some way, saying honestly, I'm kinda tired, I want to go home too, but we're at this photo shoot, so let's just get through it together, you're doing that in some way, where you're gonna get this begrudging smile, you're gonna give them a whole way out, I am not gonna do a three-hour shoot with a kid, that doesn't wanna be there, this is gonna be maybe an hour, these are the smallest shoots I do, the patient child, that's a longer shoot, the superstar, that's a longer shoot, the one that doesn't wanna be there, I'm giving them an exit and I'm lighting it up, I'm lighting the way out, (laughs) you are almost done, you know, that's what I'm doing. The other way is I have to get them to stay, the child who wants to be there, toddlers don't wanna be there, they wanna be there (laughs), that's where they wanna go and that's where they wanna go and that's where they wanna go and that is utilizing everything at your fingertips to make it happen and in this case, literally her fingertips pulling them in, this child isn't posing, they're trapped, (laughs) but it works, because we're having an exchange, either I'm having an exchange, or mom's having an exchange or something.

Class Description

Each child is unique and needs different techniques to draw out the most authentic portrait. Acclaimed family photographer, Tamara Lackey, talks through how to quickly identify the characteristics of a child and the posing techniques and direction that can lead to a fun session with great results. She’ll cover:

  • The 6 basic personalities that children may show up to a photo shoot with
  • How to draw out a shy child in front of the camera
  • Tips for photographing the children who don’t want to be there
  • Gear and accessory considerations for family shoots
  • How to build to a natural pose

Have the confidence and the technique to capture an authentic child portrait in every session no matter client or their mood!

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Tamara Lackey Posing Book Discount

Nations Photo Lab Discount

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Tamara Lackey brings amazing energy to her teaching and shooting style. She shared a ton of tips and tricks for capturing the true character and personality of each child in both individual and group portraits. I have always found it to be particularly difficult to capture portraits of multiple children that are composed to be both visually interesting and true to their unique story. I learned so much about directing and communicating effectively with child subjects, and how to use my gear and other tools to streamline the process and keep it all fun for the family. No matter how much you think you know about photographing children, this class is an asset that you will not regret! Thank you Tamara Lackey!

Heidi Mikulecky

I love Tamara's tips for working with common personality types found in children. I also love that class allows you to be "fly on the wall" during her photo shoots. It's so helpful for me to see how other photographers engage their subjects (especially children). Tamara brings a ton of energy, excitement and playfulness to her shoots. It opened my eyes to how fun (and how exhausting) a photo shoot can be when you give it your all. Great class!

Sara NAomi

This was an amazing class. Photoshop has been a huge learning curve for me during the past year and it was so helpful to see the quick and easy way you used levels to bring down brightness/hotspots. I will definitely be using it to improve the "ear" on the portrait that you critiqued. Thank you soooooooooo very much Tamara and CL for providing such great content!