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If you’re considering a career in photography—or are looking to expand your current repertoire and clientele—then children’s photography could be a great option.
Children’s photography is a high-demand niche with a lot of room for fun and creativity. Whether you choose to join in celebrations as a photographer for children’s birthday parties, go high-style as a children’s fashion photographer, or help families make lasting memories as a children’s portrait photographer, you’ll have a ton of opportunity at your fingertips, plus the chance to make a pretty decent income while you’re at it.
Here’s what to know about breaking into the world of children’s photography, including an overview of the most common types of photography within the field.
Children’s photographers, like all photographers, use their talents with a camera to capture memories and tell a story. They’re skilled in both taking photos and using modern photo-editing technologies, and may work on a freelance basis or as part of an agency or photography business.
As a children’s photographer, the specifics of your day-to-day operations will be largely dependent on your specialty. If you’re a portrait photographer, for example, you may own a studio and have families come to you for sessions. Alternately, if you’re a children’s party photographer, you’ll be working on-site at various venues, returning to your studio (or just your laptop) later on for photo editing and optimization.
Famous Children’s Photographer Examples
If you want to get a better idea of the type of work that you’d be doing, check out the portfolios of some of the most famous children’s photographers, such as Anne Geddes, Sally Mann, Dave Engledow, and Anna Gis.
A child’s photographer is an artist like any other, which is why you’ll see that each famous children’s photographer brings their own unique perspective to their work. From ethereal portraiture to humorous candid shots, look to the work of pros to get inspired and start to figure out what your own personal spin might look like. Social media sites like Instagram are particularly great for browsing images and learning from what others are doing.
Many photographers find it helpful to work within a niche, and the same is true of children’s photographers. Here are three of the most popular specialties.
Children’s Portrait Photographer
A children’s portrait photographer takes pictures of children in a studio, usually as part of a milestone occasion (i.e. newborn shoots, graduation shoots, etc.). They may occasionally work on-site too, such as those who take photos for school yearbooks or take their portrait sessions outside or into clients’ homes.
Children’s portrait photography often includes a background and/or props of some kind. They also tend to be stylized and specific, which is in contrast to the sorts of informal or candid photos that a children’s party photographer may take.
Children’s Birthday Photographer
It used to just be parents behind the camera, but now professional photographs are common hires for children’s birthday parties.
A children’s birthday party photographer is hired on a contract basis to commemorate the special occasion of a child’s birthday. Some branch out into other types of children’s parties as well, such as quinceañeras or bar and bat mitzvahs.
Because this type of work almost always involves photographing other children in addition to the child of the hiring parents, a children’s birthday photographer may need to distribute waivers or releases to other attendees, particularly if images will be used later for promotional purposes.
Children’s Fashion Photographer
Children’s fashion photographers focus on editorial work, such as images for magazines and designer lookbooks. Their subjects tend to be professional child models, though they may also work with amateurs who are building a portfolio.
Unlike the previously mentioned varieties of child photographers, a children’s fashion photographer is usually collaborating with designers, editors, or agencies and thus has less creative control over their images. They may also branch out into other types of fashion photography as opposed to solely working with kids.
If you think you’ve found your calling in children’s photography, then it’s time to take action and start building your career. Practice is obviously key here, since you need to be able to take impressive shots if you want to keep booking work. You’ll also need to know your way around photo-manipulation software and be able to not just take great photos but edit them too.
So what else is important for a successful career? If you want to make it as a children’s photographer, you’ll need to have these factors nailed down as well:
Like all professional artists, establishing a well-rounded portfolio is essential for growing your business. Gain experience by photographing your own children or the children of friends and family members. Then share these images on social media and your website (with the proper permissions, of course) to get in front of more potential clients.
Children’s photography is not necessarily for the faint of heart. You’ll need to be able to get—and keep—the attention of your subjects, which is no small feat when those subjects aren’t exactly known for sitting still.
There are two primary ways that children’s photographers book gigs:
- Freelance: Set your own rates and hours as a freelance children’s photographer. You’ll have to do the marketing yourself, but you’ll get to keep all of your profits too.
- Through an agency or photography business: Don’t want to go solo? Apply to existing photography agencies and businesses instead. Someone else will be in charge of finding the jobs, though you won’t get to keep the total cost of the shoot.
Photography is largely a word-of-mouth business. The more work you do, the more jobs you’ll hopefully bring in, especially with some strategic digital marketing. Make sure to maintain active social media profiles and highlight your work there, and utilize local marketing features like Google My Business to get in front of potential clients in your area.
How Much Do Child Photographers Make?
Your annual income as a child photographer will vary widely based on your experience, where you live, what kind of work you’re doing, and how much work you’re booking. According to ZipRecruiter, however, the average salary for a child photographer is $20 an hour, or $42,041 a year.
Ready to Get Started?
Add to your skills by taking photography classes and learning new techniques, and try to develop a unique style that sets you apart from your competitors. Be sure to invest in both an inbound and outbound marketing strategy, too, so that you make it as easy as possible for new opportunities to find you.
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