Stress-free Child Portrait Sessions – Hampton Roads, Virginia

The stress of hiring a professional photographer for a session with your young children can be overwhelming when you aren’t really sure if the kiddos are going to cooperate. Meeting someone new can make a shy child feel a bit uncooperative especially when they see the intimidating camera equipment of the photographer. For any session with a young child, my first priority is to establish trust with them. I’ll quickly say hi and ask maybe one question, but then I’ll turn to the parents and have a conversation with them so the child can see that I am a trusted adult. After that, I’ll turn my attention back to the child and start talking and playing with them to help them feel more comfortable with me. This can take up to 15 minutes and I haven’t even taken one image of them. Soon though, they will trust me and I’ll know it is time to start taking the pictures.

I have a few games I play with the little ones so they get used to seeing the camera in front of my face. If a child is still resistant to working with me, I’ll ask the parents to let them go and play. Having a telephoto lens allows me to be far enough away from the child to take pictures of them as they are playing and they don’t even know I’m doing it.

The most important thing for parents to know is that even if the child cries or resists having pictures taken during the session, I am constantly watching and anticipating the in-between moments. I will take as long as I need to in order to establish that trust with a young child and because of that, the session will ultimately be successful!

For this session, the one year old was acting as a typical one year old does, which is to say, wary of the stranger (me). His brother, who is three, was acting like a typical toddler and not willing to cooperate. Whatever was suggested was met with a resounding “no.” I knew the one year old would be easier to start with so mom and I played with him and soon he was warming up and we were getting some cute portraits of him.

One year old at garden photo session

One year old on antique rocking horse

I knew in order to get the three year old on board, I’d have to put the camera down and start playing with him to gain his trust. Soon, he was allowing me to take pictures of him with his toy car. Showing him the portraits I was taking on the back of the camera charmed him and he was completely warmed up to me then.

Little boy with his toy car

Bringing a prop that most one year olds love like a rocking chair, gets them to think about something other than me taking their pictures.

One year old boy sitting in yellow rocking chair

And then it was time to let the two boys sit down and play together. Introducing a beloved song like “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” was a perfect way to engage them. The older boy enacted the song as his little brother watched closely at what he was doing.

Brothers singing itsy-bitsy spider

They were thoroughly warmed up by now and were enjoying each other.

brothers playing at a garden session

Tickling is always a fun activity.

Older brother tickling his younger brother

When we got to the part of the session where they were in their suits, they were having so much fun and were acting completely silly. They loved being dressed up in their suits.

two little boys dressed in suits

two brothers in business suits

Brother patting his younger brother on the head

One year old boy in a suit and tie

The session was a huge success and mom LOVED the pictures!


A professional photographer for 7 years, Terri Hughes, has immense experience working with young children and getting even the shyest child to warm up to her. Her patience and care with every child rewards parents with the most beautiful and honest portraits of their children. If you would like to experience a session with Terri, please contact her via the contact button above or by emailing her at 


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