child laughing in grass in portland oregon

Tips to Keep Older Children Happy in Photos

How to Keep Older Kids Happy in Photos

My 9-year-old daughter has figured out my secret. I will let her do almost anything when I’m taking her photos if it gets me a great shot. As a photographer who asks her to model for me quite often, this could be dangerous! Lol. She a sweet child but she also has a devious side. ???? Last night I took her out in SE Portland and I got tons of gorgeous shots of her, and I’ll explain all about how I got those belly laughs and helped her to enjoy the photo session.

little girl smiling and dancing in grass

The Location

I found this location last year but never ended up going at the end of the day to see if it would work nicely for photos. This year I finally went! I took it for a test drive with the help of my silly child and I’m pretty obsessed with this spot! It’s in Southeast Portland, and works perfectly within the last 1.5 hours of the day. In the fall it’s a field of dead grass, but right now the grass is nice and tall, so you get that wild and free look.

I love big open areas for kids to run around in and explore. 

You ready to find out all the silly junk we did to keep her entertained? Okay, you asked for it.

Get Them Laughing. About Anything.

laughing child | portland family photographer

This shot right here.

This is when I realized she knows the secret.

I was standing over her and she was literally kicking me in the crotch and laughing so hard about it. It wasn’t a hard kick so I was like, whatever. You’re laughing so I don’t care. So she kept doing it and cracking up. 

Totally worth it.

portland oregon child laughing in grass

At another point, I also had her repeat funny things I said. For example, “Hi, my name is Chloe. I love unicorns. And I just farted.”

Let Them Bring Something Special

Another thing I did was allow her to bring her favorite teddy bear.

This was actually her first stuffed animal ever. Before she was born, we took her big brother to Build-a-Bear and let him make her a bear. He even put a sound in it saying he loved her.

So she loves this bear… if you can’t tell from the below images. ????

I asked her to dance with it, hug it, smell it, and throw it in the air and catch it.

photo of child hugging teddy bear in grassy field
little girl and her teddy bear dancing in grass
portland child photographer

Get Them Moving

Then I let her whip her hair back and forth. She loved this idea 😉

Let Them Take Breaks

It wasn’t REALLY a break because I was still taking photos, but I didn’t ask her to do anything in particular for most of this. She relaxed on a blanket and picked weeds.

smiling child on blanket in grass
abstract photo of little girl behind tall reeds of grass

Exploring is Always Exciting

I just let her run around and explore while I tried out some freelensing, ring-of-fire, and some other artistic shots. Here’s a blog post on the ring-of-fire technique if you’re interested in learning!

ring of fire photographer
portland child looking over shoulder in field of grass
portland oregon child photographer
freelensing image in field of grass
girl child in hat in portland oregon
child running in field of grass in southeast portland

Ask if They Have Any Ideas

At the very end, she wanted to put on her glasses and new jacket and make up her own poses, so I let her do that, too. 

portland oregon child

And that’s it for my photo session with my 9-year-old! It’s challenging to get photos of kids alone because they don’t have another person to play with and connect with, so it forces you to work harder! Especially if it’s your own kid because they always listen better to everyone else. Or is that just my kids? 

Anyway, next time you’re trying to photograph your own kids, here are some great ideas for you! I hope this was super helpful, but if you would rather hire someone to take the photos instead, I’m here! ????

Similar Posts


  1. such gorgeous shots, Becca! My kids would NEVER let me do this with them (though they did great with you). Also thanks for the behind the scenes peek into how you get older kids to smile for photos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *