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13 Best Kids Photo Poses (For Toddler and Child Photography)

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 13 min read
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Posing children for a photoshoot can be a daunting task. But it can be a lot of fun with a little preparation and thought. And the results will be amazing!


13 Best Kids Photo Pose Ideas

Here are 13 classic kids’ photo poses to get you started.

1. Be Flexible With Your Plan and Follow Their Lead

When shooting photos of toddlers, look to capture genuine shots. The best photos often stem from simply following what the toddler wants to do. You can prepare activities and plan poses, but you must make a change if the toddler isn’t enjoying it.
For example, we recently captured a creative wedding shot of a happy young ring bearer running away from the kissing bride and groom in the background. Catching moments like this give you unique and joyful images.
If they want to pick flowers, photograph them picking flowers. If they want to spin in circles, let them spin in a circle and snap a pic of their laugh when they fall!
You may want to start the photography session with more energetic children at their own pace. Then, after they have let out some excitement, they might be more willing to slow down and pose for the camera.
On the other hand, shy children may not want to participate at all. Make a shy child feel at ease by taking things a bit slower. After they’re relaxed, you can capture those genuine smiles.

A child holding a pumpkin as a kids photo pose
Shot with a Nikon D7000. 35mm, f/5.6, 1/250 s, ISO 100. Photo by Matthew Pla (Unsplash)


2. Approach the Photoshoot Like Sports Photography

If they want to run, let them run. Running shots can be a great way to photograph children in a picturesque setting. So turn on continuous autofocus, crank up the shutter speed, and start shooting!
Is it easier to take a portrait of a child sitting still? Of course, it is. But you won’t get the best photos if they’re not happy sitting still. You will need to adapt.
Treat an active toddler portrait session like taking sports photos. Use a fast shutter speed, burst mode, and continuous autofocus.
You can give them a starting point and a finish line. This way, you know where they are headed, and you can position yourself in the best spot.
If you’re shooting pictures with siblings, ask them to race. They’ll smile and have fun, and you can get the needed shots.

Two toddlers running for a kids photo pose
Shot with a Nikon D750. 50mm, f/3.2, 1/800 s, ISO 50. Photo by Christian Bowen


3. Dancing Is Easier to Capture Than Running

If the kids aren’t keen on running, maybe they’d like to dance. Just ask them to show you their best dance moves.
Dancing can be less demanding of the camera’s autofocus than running. Of course, you still need continuous autofocus, a fast shutter speed, and burst mode. But you’ll deal with a smaller area.
Try dancing yourself if you are working with toddlers too young to understand instructions. They might join in. You can ask a child to twirl if they’re wearing a new dress. They’ll happily show off their dress, and you can snap a photo.

A toddler dancing for a kids photo pose
Shot with a Nikon D3400. 18mm, f/9, 1/320 s, ISO 100. Photo by Sharon Carr (Unsplash)


4. Use Nature for Candid Child Photography Poses

Selecting a beautiful location can elevate your child and toddler photography. Meadows and country paths are beautiful landscapes even on their own. Using them for child photography is ideal.
Children will have fun on location, which can be great for capturing more candid moments. You can also ask the children to interact with their surroundings. For example, have them smell the flowers or throw leaves in the air while taking pictures.
At a recent wedding, a one-year-old flower girl had very little interest in having her picture taken. All her attention was focused on a nearby apple tree. We used this to our advantage and snapped adorable photos of her picking apples.

Toddler smelling a flower in a field for a kid photo pose
Shot with a Sony a7S II. 35mm, f/1.5, 1/250 s, ISO 50. Photo by Juan Encalada (Unsplash)


5. Use Props to Encourage Stillness

Chasing after an anarchic toddler can be tiresome, even for the most patient parent. One strategy is to use props to keep the child’s attention in one place.
A toddler might be more interested in staying still if you give them somewhere fun to sit. Large baskets and buckets, for example, can work well with toddlers. Chairs, rocking horses, and sleds are great for slightly older children.
It’s easy to work these props into a theme. For example, a popular setup uses a wash bucket with bubbles for a bathtime photo.
Whenever you are using props, make sure they are safe beforehand. For instance, be wary of tall buckets and baskets that can tip and avoid hazardous chipping or peeling paint. You can never be too careful.

A child playing with a bin with ducklings for a kids photo pose
Shot with a Nikon D7000. 35mm, f/3.5, 1/320 s, ISO 200. Photo by Christian Bowen (Unsplash)


6. Photograph Them With a Favorite Toy

Getting toddlers to stay in one place is only half the battle. Most won’t want to look at the camera, either. So, a great way to get their attention is to enlist the help of their favorite toy.
A toy that makes noise is a bonus. Hold the toy near the camera and activate the sounds. This draws the toddler’s attention. And you can get a great photo of their smiling face.
But remember, it’s their toy. Let the child play with it, too. The child will be happy and relaxed when they have their favorite toy. And your hands will be free to use your camera.
Adding their toys to the photos adds an extra emotional element. As children grow up, toys are broken and lost. So it’s often nice to remember the joy toys can bring to a child, and their moments shared are to be treasured.
Talk to your clients about bringing toy props to the photoshoot. Having toys around if your clients come unprepared is also a good idea.

A child looking out the window with binoculars for a kids photo pose
Shot with a Nikon D7100. 170mm, f/5.6, 1/250 s, ISO 125. Photo by Suresh Kadthan (Unsplash)


7. Enlist the Help of a Smile-Maker

Asking a child to smile rarely gets the best results. Even if they do smile, it may look forced and unnatural. To get genuine smiles, you need to try something a bit different.
I often sit the toddler down, then ask their mom or dad to stand directly behind me and do something silly. For example, they can dance, sing, or make a funny face. The parents will know just what to do.
This is a great way to photograph kids in a more traditional pose. They will be seated and looking at the camera with the biggest smile.
If you’re photographing your own child, ask for help from someone they like. Some of our favorite images are when grandparents make a child laugh!

A close-up of a toddler with a big smile for a kids photo pose
Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. 105mm, f/4, 1/500 s, ISO 200. Photo by (Unsplash)


8. Use Bubbles and Balloons

I’ve never met a toddler who doesn’t love bubbles and balloons. But you should always get permission from the parents before using them. The child may have allergies, or they might think it’s too unsafe.
Bubbles always get a big smile from toddlers and young children. You can use them out of shot and focus on the child. Or you can include them in the photo. They make lovely added visuals to toddler photography.
The children will want to interact with the bubbles, too. The child will be happily distracted whether they are blowing bubbles or popping them. It’s a great opportunity to snap some genuine expressions. You can even invest in a bubble-making machine.
You can use the same strategy with balloons. They always elicit great smiles. And they look great as a prop, too!
Balloons, however, should only be used with older children. A balloon popping can be a traumatic experience for a young child, and the popped pieces are a choking hazard.

A child catching a bubble in a park as a kids photo pose
Shot with a Nikon D90. 50mm, f/1.8, 1/800 s, ISO 200. Photo by Leo Rivas (Unsplash)


9. Try Food-Based Props Kids Like

Toddlers love to eat. Maybe not broccoli or cabbage, but if you’re holding something sweet, they’ll likely want to try it. And food can be an excellent prop for child photography.
Something silly, like a big rainbow lollipop, makes a great visual with extra color. Seasonal food, like apples in autumn or watermelon in the summer, can also be fun.
Cake is a fun prop if the photoshoot has a birthday theme. The cake will definitely put a smile on their faces.
If you want to work with food, always get the parent’s permission first. And make sure the food is age-appropriate.

A toddler holding a giant lollipop while sitting on a blanket for a kids photo pose
Shot with a Nikon D3200. 50mm, f/1.8, 1/800 s, ISO 200. Photo by Douglas J. S. Moreira (Unsplash)


10. Use Playful Props With Children

Young children love trying new things and using their hands. That’s why giving them a prop they can play with is such a good idea. If they’re busy with their hands, they’ll hopefully take a break from running around.
Always make sure the props are safe and age-appropriate. You can also ask the parents about the child’s interests to ensure you have something to keep them captivated. Pinterest is a great place to go for ideas for kid-friendly props.

A child playing with a xylophone on a couch for a kids photo pose
Shot with a Canon EOS 60D. 50mm, f/2, 1/400 s, ISO 800. Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem (Unsplash)


11. Play a Game With Toddlers

Games are fun for adults and children alike. Even something as simple as peek-a-boo. You don’t even need any props—just your hands and your face.
For older kids, try playing Simon Says. This is an excellent trick for getting the children to pose without them realizing it. Or you can get them to copy you or their parents.
These types of games are simple and silly. The child will forget they’re at a photoshoot. And you can capture those beaming smiles.

A child holding her face for a kids photo pose
Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. 108mm, f/3.5, 1/400 s, ISO 640. Photo by Chen Li (Unsplash)


12. Use Playful Instructions to Create Genuine Posing for Kids

Some toddlers have a bit of a rebellious side. But you can use this to your advantage! If they want to do the opposite of what they’re told, tell them not to smile. And this can work for older kids, too. It’s better than asking, “Say cheese!”
You can ask them to see how long they can go without smiling. Tell them to try their hardest and be ready with your camera when the smile breaks out.
If you work with siblings, they can contest to see who can go the longest without smiling. Usually, the children will end up in fits of laughter.

Black-and-white photo of two girls laughing for a kids photo pose
Shot with a Nikon D5100. 24mm, f/9, 1/500 s, ISO 320. Photo by Caroline Hernandez (Unsplash)


13. Create Interactions Between Siblings

It’s hard enough getting one child to smile when they’re having their photo taken. So, two or three might seem impossible. But it isn’t.
The key to photographing sisters and brothers is having them interact with each other. They can play games, tell jokes, or dance together. Siblings tend to have a knack for getting each other to smile.
Some older children tend to do well when tasked with getting their younger siblings to smile.

three kid poses with a dog in a dramatic countryside landscape
© Iwona Podlasińska, the creator of our Dreamy Childhood Portraits eBook


Kids Photo Poses FAQs

These are the most frequently asked questions about child photography poses. Hopefully, these will help you figure out the best posing for kids.

How Do You Photograph Toddlers Indoors?

Capturing a fast-moving toddler indoors can be tough. The more light you have, the better. Any location with a big window is a good idea.
Use a high ISO setting and a wide aperture if you don’t have much light. The posing tips above are great for getting them to stay in one place.

How Do You Photograph a One-Year-Old?

One-year-olds are tough to photograph. But the same toddler photography tips above work for one-year-olds, too. You can even try some with younger babies.
Remember to work with them, not against them. Be patient and use camera settings to photograph sports rather than portraits.
Keep in mind that you may not get traditional poses looking at the camera. But you’ll be able to capture some wonderfully authentic images of your children.

How Do I Get My Toddler to Cooperate for Pictures?

Give them something in return. Usually, toddlers aren’t interested in having their pictures taken. For example, if you give them their favorite toy, they think it’s a reward.
Use your knowledge of what your child likes and dislikes. When they are happy, the shoot will go smoothly.
If toddlers just want to run, they won’t be pleased if you make them sit still. To get the best smiles, you have to make them happy.
If you are getting photos done by a professional, choose a photographer who specializes in child photography. Bringing snacks that aren’t messy and a favorite toy along can help.
Working to the child’s schedule is also a handy tip. You don’t want the photoshoot to clash with a meal or nap time.

child riding a tricycle through a woodland trail
© Iwona Podlasińska, the creator behind our Magical Childhood Moments course


Conclusion: Kids Photo Poses

Toddlers and photographers play by different rules. Kids want to do their own thing. And you shouldn’t fight it! Instead, work with toddlers to get the best child photography poses.
You have to let them have fun. And with the right tricks and props, they can have fun on your terms. The child won’t notice they’re being photographed in the best photoshoots.
Then, you can work your magic with the camera and capture some excellent child photography images. Using these tips, you can control the fun and create some stunning photos that will be a family treasure.
Check out our Dreamy Childhood Portraits eBook and Magical Childhood Moments course for more in-depth tips for posing kids.