How To Take Great Pictures Of Kids Wearing Handmade Items

30 June 2021

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So you’ve made a cute little sweater or mittens for a special kid in your life, great work! They are super lucky to have something handmade just for them. Now, let’s get a picture before they grow out of it.

What You Need

A camera, a kid and the handmade item. You don’t need a fancy camera to take great pictures.  Many of us already have a great camera in our phone. You can use an older digital camera that you have on hand, or find one at a thrift store. Whatever it is, the most important thing is to know how to focus it.

Lighting

If you’re comfortable setting up artificial light, using a flash or manipulating photos with editing software, go for it. If you’re going for a good result and simplicity, pick a spot with lots of natural, even and indirect light. Outside is great, as is by a big window. Good light can make a photo awesome and poor light can make it really difficult to get a good, clear result.

image description: a young child, wearing a handknit sweater, looking directly at the camera

image description: a young child in a handknit sweater, looking just off camera

Preparation

Is the garment blocked, clean, dry? Even the most patient babies and children don’t want to wait around while we charge a phone or sew in an end. Think of where you want to take pictures. Is any weird clutter out of the way? Is your dog digging through the garbage? The point of having a simple backdrop isn’t to brag about how clean your home is, but invite the eye to focus on the cute kid and the knitwear, not on how everyone’s been throwing their coats on the floor in the entryway all week. Just push that mess out of the line of sight and deal with it later (or not! You can always crop your picture to suit).

image description: a young child wearing a handknit hand and sweater
image description: a close-up version of the image to the left, a young child wearing a handknit hat and sweater, most of the background cropped out

Timing

If you’re photographing your child, you know when will be a good time to take a picture. Before or after a nap, before or after TV time, when they’re freshly fed. If it’s a friend or a niece or nephew, defer to their caregiver about a good time. Be prepared—waiting for the right time takes patience. It is your job to be ready. Be mindful of the seasons and what you’re having the child or baby wear. No one is happy wearing layers of wool on a hot summer day.

Get Buy-In

If the child is not interested in taking pictures wearing the garment, you’re not going to have much success. Here are some ways to get buy-in from the child about taking these pictures.

  • Have them wear a funny hat or mask, ask them to make silly faces for some of the pictures
  • You can say they can choose a photo to print off and keep for themselves or send to a loved one
  • Play Simon Says and have the poses be the instructions
  • Have them pose with a favourite toy, or a picture they drew
  • Go to their favourite park! What can be better than taking pictures while they are playing? (Be careful not to take pictures of other people’s children without permission.)
  • With babies, have someone they love or are attached to hold them or keep their attention while you’re taking photos.
image description: a young child in a handknit hat, holding a partially eaten apple
image description: a young child in a handknit sweater, holding a stuffed animal

If it isn’t working out, there is always another day, or another time.

Take Pictures, and Lots of Them!

Don’t stop after every picture to show your subject the camera screen; it might be fun at first, but it will draw out the process. Set a timer, or count the pictures and agree to look through all of them together at a set point, and you can each choose your favourites.

image: a collage of 9 images - the same child in the same handknit hat, each with a slightly different facial expression

Know When to Stop

When it’s no longer fun for everyone involved, STOP. Hopefully you’re able to anticipate when you’re getting frustrated, children are getting bored, and babies are getting hungry, and you can end on a good note. Five to ten minutes should give you plenty of photo options to choose from.

image description: a young child in a handknit sweater, lying on the floor, looking away from the camera
image description: a young child in a handknit sweater, leaning against a table, looking away from the camera

Be Prepared

Hopefully this advice helps you manage a good (and short) photo shoot session with the kids in your life. But all the preparation in the world won’t mean things will necessarily go smoothly. Have your camera or smartphone ready to snap a few pictures whenever they are wearing their handmade clothes. Those spur-of-the-moment pictures can be some of the best images, if you’re ready to take them.

image description: a young child, seated in a chair, holding a camera

All images by Gillian Martin.

Copyright © Gillian Martin except as indicated.

About Gillian Martin

Gillian Martin is a knitting enthusiast and freelance knit-wear photographer who spends a lot of time holding her delightful new baby, and tries to get a row of knitting in here and there. Everyone in her family has at least one handknit sweater and many, many hats. She lives in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People, on the East Coast of Canada, with her partner, two children and cat.

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