Tips + Techniques

Take Great Kid Photos + Make 6 Figures Your First Year in Business 

May 7, 2024

By Abbey Pleviak

Photographing kids requires ultimate flexibility. To get genuine shots, a photographer must develop a good rapport with them and be open and flexible to keep their interest while getting good shots. Cedna Todorovic is a Calgary-based photographer who shoots a variety of genres but especially loves photographing children and families. In this article, she share her tips for taking great photos of kids.

Cedna recently joined host Nikki Closser on The Portrait System Podcast to talk about her portrait business and how she made over $100,000 in her first year. Cedna began shooting weddings in 2011 but wanted to shift into photographing everyday people. When the pandemic hit, she dug into the online education of The Portrait System, and two years later, in 2022, she opened her Čedna Portrait Stories photography studio.  

Listen to Cedna Todorovic’s Portrait System Podcast appearance. © The Portrait System

Cedna took her time in figuring out the math behind what would keep her business healthy so that she could charge sustainable prices right out of the gate. Then, she dug into going to one networking event every week for the first year.  

She says, “My priority was to just be visible.” Going anywhere where women gathered, she kept a service-oriented mindset – always figuring out what they did, how long they had been in business, and what she could do to support them before pitching herself.  

Cedna’s hard work paid off, and after a year of networking, her business became largely referral based. 

The mother in this family is a driven entrepreneur who juggles many competing priorities, projects, and initiatives. Cedna feels inspired by the excellence and professionalism this client seeks, which pushes her to “strive to be better and deliver something beyond the unexpected.” © Čedna Portrait Stories

Emotion Forward Style 

Cedna has never considered herself a technical photographer. Her focus has always been on emotion. She says, “I photograph how people in front of me and a specific moment make me feel. Sometimes, it’s the way the light falls across someone’s face by accident. Sometimes, it’s the way they adjust themselves when they think no one is watching. . . I try to look as much as possible for the in-between moments and nuances that can’t be staged.” 

This method of shooting requires taking time ahead of the shoot to get to know her clients and build rapport and being alert and mindful in the moment. And during a shoot, Cedna always endeavors to give those in front of her camera all her attention, energy, and care. 

At the same time, she keeps her technical set-ups light and flexible. She uses one or two lights at most and uses modifiers and bounces in various ways. Cedna says, “My priority above lighting setups, props or anything else is always the human aspect — I want the moment and image to move me in some way. And if it moves me personally and my clients, then I feel I have succeeded.” 

Cedna Todorovic says the challenge in photographing kids is needing to work fast while “keeping their interest and attention and simultaneously relating to them in a way that builds trust.” © Čedna Portrait Stories

Cedna’s Tips for Photogaphing Kids

  1. Establish trust and likability with them before you start taking their pictures. Get down to their level. Ask them question about what they love including their favorite activities, subjects, pets, siblings, toys, etc. Remember that they can often feel intimidated and nervous. Connect with them on a relatable level before you ask them to do anything for you. 
  1. Work quickly and be flexible, adapting to the situation at hand. You might only have their attention for 1-3 minutes. When photographing kids, try to elicit as many genuine expressions and move through as many body positions and angles as you can in that time. Keep the flow going, so they never feel stuck in the same rigid pose too long. Keep asking questions and keep your camera up to catch the in-between moments when their guard is down and they are just being themselves. 
  1. Keep your lighting simple and aim for capturing a true representation over perfect shot. You won’t have the luxury to get their hair just right or the shadows just right when photographing kids, so don’t worry so much about that. Focus on getting the unguarded moment and nuanced expression. You want to be able to deliver parents a true representation that reflects their personality and shares their quirks. Keeping your lighting simple allows you to be able to explore light modifications and still be quick in your approach so kids don’t get bored and antsy.

Listen to Cedna’s Portrait System Podcast appearance to learn more about her journey and tips for growing a successful portrait business. 

[Read: Tips for Taking Great Candid Photos of Kids by Elena S Blair]

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