How do I become a children's photographer?

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How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby JosieGrace62 » Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:08 am

I am new here and hope I am posting in the right spot.

My wish: Be a candid children's photographer.

My obstacles: I have never taken technical photography classes. Everything I do is with my amazing new camera. I am excellent with children and love the candid shots, as well as having a knack for getting them to be comfortable with the camera etc. I tell myself I can't do this because I don't have training and I don't have thousands and thousands of dollars of photographic materials, lights, backgrounds etc. I also make slideshows with music to give to parents as well. So I wonder if I can do this without going to school to be a "real" photographer. How does one get started? I am willing to do this for free until I get more practice.

I just posted on another board with this same question and I got a LOT of backlash for simply asking this question from photographers who were seemingly offended that I didn't have training and I had no right to be a professional photographer. I'm just trying to go after my passion...not offend anyone. I just make a slideshow for a family who were in tears with the way the children were portrayed and their ease with me, which no one had been able to capture, so it ignited my joy of this again.

Thank you for your help. I appreciate all input...but please be nice..I am only asking. : "D
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby SquarePeg » Sun Jun 30, 2013 2:01 pm

Welcome, JG!

Photography is one of my special interests. I "focus on" nature and pets (cats, mostly). Focus -- get it? :)

It's important to learn the basics of the camera eventually. ISO settings, aperture and shutter speed are good terms to know because they affect the quality and mood of the shot. But you could probably start doing free work using just the camera's Portrait mode setting, which would increase the aperture to blur the background, putting emphasis on the subject.

Since children are forced to go to school, getting connections at your local elementary school can help you to find out about special events, such as plays, concerts and science fairs. One example is that when our daughter was involved in the musical at the high school, a photographer offered to take free head shot portraits. They came out real nice. He gave one 8 x 10 print to each student for free and also offered for sale additional prints through his website.

One thing I enjoy doing is taking photos at fairs. The face painting is my favorite. The kids sit very still during the painting, and the artist's intense focus lends interest to the subject.

As for websites, you don't need to pay for one immediately. You could get a free Picasa account or (and this is what I do) use a free account at DeviantArt.
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby JosieGrace62 » Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:41 pm

I appreciate your help. You were very encouraging with lots of great information. I will take it to task and look up what you said. I have tried Photoshop Elements and am a ding dong on it. I need to be shown by someone. I didn't know Picassa was so versatile, thanks.

All the best to you in your travels. :D
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby Elaine Glimme » Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:11 pm

I know nothing about photography.
What about preschool? Ask if you could come by one day and just take pictures, then make them available to the parents should they want to purchase them.
What about birthday parties for your friends?

Post your best photos on photobucket. Enter photography contests.

Also what about animals. Agility trials for dogs? rodeos? I'll bet dog/horse owners would buy a fantastic shot of their animal performing. Don't just focus on the winners.


do you know anyone who makes his/her living with photography? Would they allow you to help and do all the stupid jobs they don't want to do in exchange for the learning experience, and the chance to take some pictures as well?
My friend took a class on photoshop. I think it was a semester long, so there's a lot to know, but she could do amazing things when she had finished. (Junior college would be the place to go for that kind of a class.)

the standard Barbara Sher answer would be don't give up your dream and don't give up your day job until you get to the point where the photography will provide enough to live on.
I don't know what camera you have. I do know that digital cameras can do some amazing things.

I assume that right now you take photos all the time, and you do it because it's fun. Keep on taking them.

I hope you get your wish.
Elaine Glimme - author - "Temporary Address" and "The Molly Chronicles"
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby JosieGrace62 » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:59 am

Thank you Elaine! You came up with done great ideas I hadn't thought of before. Bless you!
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby Tituba » Fri Jul 05, 2013 7:45 am

Don't spend too much time feeling less than because you don't have thousands of dollars of equipment nor have taken classes. What you need is a good eye and desire. At some point, you can take classes to refine your work. Community colleges have classes at low cost. Once you have established a business (DBA from your local town hall, business cards, business checking account), you can then write off all classes, equipment etc.

Let's not forget about your public library and the tons of books which can help you develop skill.

Go to outdoor, public events (like street fairs, craft shows, Earth day, sporting events) etc. and take candid pictures. Send them to your local newspaper. They are always looking for community shots. That will get you known. Plus, when you ask the parent if it is OK to take a picture of their child for the paper, you hand them your card.

Talk to kindergarten teachers about field events they might have where you could take pictures for the school/teacher. I was at the post office the other day and a teacher and 20 little kids came in and they were getting a lesson in "this is the post office and let's send the letters we wrote in class." I thought it would have been nice had someone been there to snap a picture and send it to the local paper.

Do not post anyone's picture on your website without them (or their parents) signing a release.

Go to networking events with other business people. Get to know your local caterers, bakeries etc. as they are involved with families.

Alot of libraries have storytelling events. They might let you take pictures of the kids listening to the stories. They can post those pictures in the library. Professional storytellers would welcome the publicity as well.

Talk to the local school's drama teacher about taking pictures of the rehearsals of their productions. They need publicity for their shows and would welcome the exposure.

Granted, all of this is free. However, you need to do some free stuff before people will hear about you.

There are laws about using pictures in public settings and whether you need a release or not. It would be in your best interest to talk to a lawyer and find out what the laws in your state are and what forms you should get signed. Best to start on the right foot.
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby SquarePeg » Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:43 am

One very important piece of advice I forgot is this: look at lots of other photographs. Just as wannabe writers are told to read a lot, folks who want to capture people's imaginations with photography should look at other photos. Pay attention to what part of the photo your eye is drawn to first. Is it the subject's eyes? (Good!) Or is it the bright doorknob right next to her head? (Ungood.) How does it make you feel? Does it tell a story?

Feel free to try to compose your subjects the same way as your favorites.

Again, the popular channel of DeviantArt's photography/portraits/children is a great resource:
http://http://browse.deviantart.com/pho ... /children/
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby JosieGrace62 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 12:22 pm

Thank you Tituba and SquarePeg!!! What awesome ideas and encouragement, I feel like it's possible now. Just Do It...as they say. :D
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby SouthernArtist2000 » Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:47 pm

JosieGrace,

Sounds like you are already a photographer. Even if you didn't have a camera, you'd be seeing great shots all around you that you could take. That's all you need to be a photographer. A good eye for what would make a good photograph. I'm sure you do this all the time with or without your camera.

You are already making people happy with the photos you are taking and you seem to be good with people, too. Now you should find a way to charge them for what you do. Some websites let you upload photos and you give your customers your card (you need a business card) with a password for the website that only they can access to only their photos. Then they can pay on the site and download the ones they like.

I wish I could recommend a site, but I don't use those types of sites. I know of them because I have worked with photographers who do weddings and that's how some of them do it.

Don't listen to anyone who tells you you aren't ------ fill in the blank. None of them were fabulous photographers overnight. They all had to start somewhere and grow and learn and had help doing that.

Really NICE business cards can be had at Vistaprint for a very good price. You could strike up a conversation with anyone while in line anywhere. Tell them you photograph children, they will show you their kid's photos and you might get a job. You will need a card though to give them.

I'd also get one of those digital frames (small one) and/or key chains and put some of the photos you've already taken on that so you can show people the type of photos you take.

Good luck.
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby emspace » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:52 pm

JosieGrace,

To your question on how to get started: Well sadly it’s not easy becoming a pro photographer. As you might’ve read from the backlash on the other site from other photographers, there’s just a lot of competition out there, and what with everyone able to buy a pretty decent camera, there aren’t many people who can’t say they don’t have a friend or family member who is a photographer and can do their photos for free or super cheap.

The main avenue to get into the business is referrals. Meet people, know people, do a lot of photographing, show a lot of people your photographs, set up a Facebook page, get all your friends to follow it, post your stuff there, post it on Twitter, post it on Instagram, post it on Pinterest, post it on your blog. The more people that see your work, the better the chances they’ll ask you “how much do you charge?”

But then that’s the second obstacle: how to find people to pay you so you can make a decent living at it. You can do a lot of free or super-cheap jobs for the first year or two, but then you’ll start to resent all the free work you’re doing and want to charge money for your time and effort. But all the people who were getting free/cheap photos from you aren’t going to suddenly turn around and start paying you, and neither will their referrals who all heard how cheap you are.

So you’ll need to start marketing to people outside of that (nearly) “freebie” sphere. You’ll have to learn some things about how to brand yourself, how to position your services in a saturated field, how to identify your target market, and how to market to that audience. You’ll have to work out your overhead expenses and come up with a pricing model that will allow you to buy groceries at the end of the week. And then the hardest part: you have to find people who will pay your fee to have you photograph their children.

That’s the third obstacle. There is a market for every type of photographer, I’m pretty sure of it. I don’t think you need an spectacular portfolio (more about this below) — it doesn’t hurt you, but you don’t need it. However, finding your market isn’t always easy or straight-forward, depending on who you’re catering to.

Look, I don’t want to discourage you, but simply paint a realistic picture of what you’re facing. Of course it’s not impossible and you shouldn’t give up your wish! But you also shouldn’t be quitting your day job anytime soon.

Back to helpful advice: Learn. Learn. Learn. Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. Practice. Practice. Practice. Even if you don’t have a job, you need to keep shooting and getting better and better with your camera and every type of lighting situation until you almost know approx. what camera settings to use when you walk in a room. You have to be that good. Missing an overwhelming number of shots because you don’t know the technical stuff is unacceptable if people are paying you not to miss shots.

I highly recommend reading Roberto Valenzuela’s Picture Perfect Practice. He’s a wedding photographer and the examples in the book are from his commissions, but the take-away is not the style of photography (frankly, I’m not sure I like his work that much) but that on-the-job is not the time to be learning how to photograph. Like a paid musician, you should be spending sufficient time practicing when you’re not “on stage.” And not just random shooting, but really focused on getting a specific result and learning what it takes to get that result consistently, so that it’s in your tool belt when you’re on a job.

Second piece of advice: Having said that, don’t just learn how to shoot—because those pro photographers on that site that blasted you were wrong. There’s a market for every type of photographer. But being a professional photographer is at least 70% understanding the business side. There are lots of full-time pro photogs out there who take really average photographs (in my not-so-humble opinion). What they’ve figured out is the business side and that’s all you really need to get clients. So pick up a Small Business For Dummies type book and start learning about all of that. If that’s not your cup of tea, who can you rope into being your business manager/marketing /social media person until you can afford to pay a real one? Husband? Sister? Mother? Son? Someone who owes you a life debt?


I’m a documentary photographer myself, but I’ve long realised that pursuing a career in that is a long shot at best. I’ve turned to wedding, children, corporate, and even real estate photography now to make some money at it. I’ll be the first to tell you I’m doing it all wrong and that I need to focus on just one thing first before branching out to all these different things. Trust me, it’s challenging keeping them all separate from each other so as not to confuse potential clients. I’ve done a lot of free and cheap work for years, and 2013 is the first year I’m starting to get some traction. Just a little; not nearly enough.

Still. I’m convinced it will happen one day, just as I’m sure it’ll happen for you, too. But this is far from an overnight thing. I’ve been shooting for at least 29 years and only decided to pursue the business last year. I’m still climbing uphill because I can’t put all my energy into it and I hate Facebooking and Tweeting and blogging and networking. But more and more people are seeing my work and asking about it. It’s just a matter of time to get the first “ideal client” that will help start the avalanche.

Good luck with your avalanche! :D
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby skannie » Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:50 pm

I just came across this article that might be helpful

Photo Opportunity: How To Start A Successful Photography Business
https://www.openforum.com/articles/phot ... ation-sb-p
www.beyond-mountains.com
www.scannertribe.com
Scanner Tribe Group on Facebook
Scanner Tribe group on LinkedIn
Twitter - @scannertribe
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby heater » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:26 am

Lack of training might be a real and important factor in terms of doors that are available to you, but remember the story of Rocky! More important, some of those with the greatest prestige and training sometimes are not creating work proportional to their training. I like the micro steps above; what steps are meaningful to you to do even if the pay is low at this time?
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby Manny_002 » Fri Jan 24, 2014 12:11 am

Hi Josie. I am in the midst of my career as a photographer in Port Macquarie. So, I do not have expert tips to share with you. I just have to say that baby photography is not a cup of cake. You have to handle kids so that they can give accurate poses for photography. This becomes easier when kids have their parents around them.
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby Elaine Glimme » Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:56 pm

Photographers, please see my wish - to finish "The Molly Chronicles."
Elaine Glimme - author - "Temporary Address" and "The Molly Chronicles"
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Re: How do I become a children's photographer?

Postby henrycavill20 » Wed May 07, 2014 12:07 am

If you want to be the children's photographer then you have to visit many of children photography sites and blogs. There you will get too informative tips and ideas about children's photography services. It should be too helpful for you.
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