What if my child refuses to cooperate in a photo session? This was a question that came up quite a few times in a recent survey I did about FAQ’s, so I thought I’d address it in today’s post.

Boy offering to hug girl in rapeseed field

In my sessions, I try to think about the best ways for them to cooperate from the outset rather than what we do when they don’t hence I called this post:- Three rules on getting children to cooperate. It was also the perfect chance to share some images of my own children from a recent, slightly more challenging shoot in a gorgeous rapeseed field on the edge of Ashdown Forest (East Sussex).

At least when I photograph other people’s children I have one other person there other than me (normally their mum or dad). With my children I am trying to play two roles, mum and photographer, and that’s both hard and unpredictable.

So for my best chance at success I follow these 3 rules:-

Rule 1:

Give children something to do.

In this scenario I had prepared the children for an afternoon of rabbit hunting, we’d bought carrots and they were both really excited, so it was easy to get them running up and down the lines of rapeseed.

Girl walking in field of rapeseed, boy following

Rule 2:

Stop, take a break.

There’s no point forcing an issue, so if they aren’t happy we stop. Sometimes this happens when we arrive at a venue, sometimes it happens at the middle and other times we just need to know when to say, ok, we’ve got some lovely images, the session is over.

In this situation, we couldn’t find any rabbits, (although I had genuinely seen some there before) and the children were getting fed up. So we stopped and took a break, Amelia sitting on her portapotty chatting with her brother – incidentally this is also one of my favourite behind the scene’s pictures from the day.

Girl and boy sitting chatting in a rapeseed field

Rule 3:

Change venue (or have a plan B)

Sometimes things can get too much. So instead, we say, hey, lets go over here, or let’s go for a walk. A little distraction can go along way, and they feel more in control, are full of beans and less concerned about the camera.

Girl laughing sat in field of rapeseed


Girl in a rapeseed field


Portrait of girl in rapeseed


Girl and boy leaving rapeseed field

I hope you like this blog post. Please feel free to share your comments. If you want to know more about child portrait sessions, contact me.