Columns » A Photo Life

Three tips for photographing children at weddings

by

comment
At Renita and John's wedding, their four boys were included in their post wedding portraits. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • At Renita and John's wedding, their four boys were included in their post wedding portraits.
Weddings with children are wonderful to photograph. The children themselves often create a wonderful distraction to the wedding, but they can also be an incredible challenge for photographers. They don't sit still, for one. For two, they don't trust strangers with cameras. And for three, their emotions change as quickly as the weather.

I've learned to take it as it comes with kids. Here are three things I try to do to ensure that I can make great pictures of children at a wedding no matter what the situation.
A Kristen's wedding the flower girl got lost in the moment. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • A Kristen's wedding the flower girl got lost in the moment.
1. Let them be themselves
Allowing a child to be themselves instead of telling them what to do is the first rule. Most parents don't understand this and when they see my camera they order their children to look at it and smile. That never works. I often don't tell the parents that it doesn't matter. Instead, what I try to do is photograph the children throughout the day as they are going about their business. They might be playing together, exploring their surroundings or investigating the wedding bouquet. What ever it is, I take pictures of them being them.
During Sara's group pictures the ring bearer wanted to be close to mom. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • During Sara's group pictures the ring bearer wanted to be close to mom.
2. During group pictures always introduce yourself and ask their name and age
The surest way to ruin a family photograph is not to engage the children. They immediately see that they are being ignored and will demand attention from their parents or those around them. If the child is old enough I always introduce myself and ask them, before the group photographs, their names and how old they are. By feigning interest as they're standing or being held in a large group, they will feel like they were acknowledged and paid attention to by me. If I need them to do something during that group picture, I simply call out their name. It's a lot easier to get them to cooperate and I usually come away with a new friend.
At Nellie and Brett's wedding, the flower girls hung out with the couple's dog. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • At Nellie and Brett's wedding, the flower girls hung out with the couple's dog.

3. Develop a rapport throughout the day
By the time the wedding ceremony is over, if there are children in it, they sense the tension that the adults feel has dissipated, and that it's a time for everyone to relax. At the start of the day, they may look at me suspiciously, but if I'm being attentive to them throughout the event I'll gain their trust. With this trust I can often make pictures of them that would never happen without otherwise. Sometimes when there's nothing going on at the reception, but the light is beautiful and the kids are bored, I'll suggest that they play or dance. These pictures always turn out great and I know their parents are grateful to have an image that truly reflects their childrens' personalities. 
During Sara and Eric's wedding ceremony the ring bearer got bored and tired. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • During Sara and Eric's wedding ceremony the ring bearer got bored and tired.

I've included photographs of children from recent weddings to illustrate.

Admittedly, it can be really hard to take great pictures of children at weddings. But these tips have proven successful for me. 
During Sara and Eric's wedding reception, I asked the flower girls to walk together in the later afternoon light. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • During Sara and Eric's wedding reception, I asked the flower girls to walk together in the later afternoon light.

Use these tips the next time you're asked to photograph a wedding and there are children involved.
At Kristen and Jeremiah's reception I caught this touching moment between grandfather and grandson. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • At Kristen and Jeremiah's reception I caught this touching moment between grandfather and grandson.

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

Add a comment

Clicky Quantcast