Maternity + Family

How to Shoot an Award-Winning Kids Portrait

October 5, 2018

By Jacqueline Tobin

Three years ago, wedding photographer and 2016 Rf 30 Rising Star Lukas Piatek—who is based in Bottrop, Germany—founded LOOKSLIKEFILM, a global community of photographers and other creatives all crafting images that, he says, look and feel like life, “a bit messy, gritty and grainy, faded and heartfelt and hopeful.”

Piatek continues: “We are fearlessly doing our own thing, sharing it with each other, and learning anew with each image why we fell in love with finding meaning and emotion in a single, two-dimensional frame.”

The website features a blog, inspirational wall, challenges, event listings and contests, and it recently had a relaunch, which included a small awards competition that sought out the best children and kids images. Here, the top three winners share the concepts and visions behind their winning photos.

Camera: Nikon D750 | Lens: 35mm f/1.4 Sigma Art. Photo © Andrea Martin

According to first-place winner Andrea Martin, her pet ducks and her friend’s red-haired daughter inspired the winning frame. “I was planning a shoot with her with the ducks at the lake,” she explains, “and as I was driving to the session, I had this idea of her ready to go swimming with her duck buddy. I ran into the dollar store and grabbed an inner tube and goggles. She executed my vision perfectly!”

Camera: GoPro HERO5. Photo © Stephanie Lynn Huber

Second-place winner Stephanie Lynn Huber’s image was taken in Fort Meyer, Florida, using her GoPro HERO5. “The little girl was swimming towards her mother and I had an image like this in my head as I saw her swimming back towards the steps,” she says. “I put the GoPro on burst mode and bobbed it in and out of the water to create the blurred water line effect that I’d come to love. It gives an anonymous feeling to the photo that I really like.”

In post, Huber wanted to capture the feeling of reaching out of the darkness towards light and edited to emphasize that feeling. “For me this photo represents the darkness we can all find ourselves swimming in, and the desire we still have to reach out towards other humans, towards light, towards love.”

Camera: Canon 5D Mark IV | Lens: 50mm f/1.4 exposure: f/3.5 at 1/500 sec | ISO: 800. Photo © Tara Miller/The Focus Tree Photography

For British Columbia-based family and maternity photographer Tara Miller, this shot (above), which nabbed her third place, happened rather naturally. “I had taken my daughters out to meet my friend and her sons at her father-in-law’s house,” she says. “The kids were all playing in the front yard in the kiddie pool and eating at the picnic table. I lucked out with the sunset behind this cute little shed.”

Related: Shaking Up the Traditional Family Portrait

4 Things To Keep in Mind When Posing Kids

Shaping Light for Black and White Family Shoots