Photo by Lauren Brandes

5 Tips For Photographing Children In Nature

By Marcia Brandes

Does this happen to you? At an outside event or gathering, do friends or family members (perhaps even strangers) notice your camera and – assuming that you must know about photography – ask you to take their picture? Of course, you know what to do if you’re photographing a landscape, animals or flowers, but what about people?

If you want to be prepared for this situation the next time it arises, here are five tips to make the human animals in your photos look great, too.

1) Set your focus on faces. We know to focus on the eyes of birds and animals, but they don’t wear sunglasses or hats. Try to angle your subjects so they aren’t facing into the sun and squinting, and ask them to remove those dark shades if possible, especially for closeups. Watch out for hats casting shadows on faces in bright sunlight; if you have a flash, use it to brighten any faces in shadows.

Canoeing at the Chattahoochee Nature Center.
Photo by Marcia Brandes.

2) Don’t crop out the feet or hands. Torso and headshots are fine, but stopping at the ankles looks weird. Let’s have our subjects fully grounded if we’re going for full body shots.

3) Children, like other wild animals, are best photographed at eye level. My knees creak and I may need help getting back up, but my shots will be much more engaging if I go to the trouble of squatting down for the little ones.

Planting at Armand Park Photos by Marcia Brandes

4) Both you and your subjects should relax and have fun. This isn’t formal portraiture; these shots are preserving memories of good times. Mix up the shots – some can be with everyone smiling at the camera, but be sure to get the action shots too, just as you would with birds and wildlife.

5) If people don’t want their photos taken, leave them out of the picture. Most people are accustomed to having their pictures taken or shooting selfies for the world to admire, but not everyone. In our shoots for the Conservation Committee, we’ve found that people at volunteer events, like tree planting or picking up trash, love to have their pictures taken. They ask for us to take their photos, and they want the world to see their children helping and having fun doing it. But we always ask permission to take photos of children.

Friends of Georgia State Parks cleaning a beach at Jekyll Island.
Photo by Jenny Burdette.

Using your skills on people in nature can be especially rewarding, just as you delight in photographing birds, insects, animals and flowers. Practice with friends and family. You’ll make a lot of friends who will be very glad to have you there!  If you are unsure about photographing people, we can pair you up with a more experienced photographer at one of our future events. We have many opportunities with our conservation partners to photograph people having fun and working to keep Georgia beautiful.


Marcia Brandes has been a member of GNPA for seven years and is the current chair of the Conservation Committee.