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Top Tips for Photographing Kids in Knits

May 20, 2021

We love nothing better than seeing our kiddos all wrapped up in our knits, and we usually have our cameras at the ready! We’ve always photographed our kids in our knits, so if you want to take some fun and fab (and a little cheesy) pics of wee ones, we have a suggestion or two on how to make it work.

Here are our top nine tips for capturing beautiful photos of kids in knits. These pearls of wisdom have been polished up through years (and tears), so take notes!

1. Don’t ask kids to smile…it’s always suspect

The photographic evidence speaks for itself. Half the time, kids smile without being asked, but when you DO ask them? Well…just don’t expect top results!

Beloved Bonnet Pattern
Somewhere between four and six, kids learn to do this kind of smile. It’s cute, but…
Neve is wearing the Beloved bonnet and Ironheart sweater.
Strange Brew colourwork yoke recipe pattern
Max is wearing a yoke sweater I made using the Strange Brew colourwork yoke recipe pattern.
Moraine Sweater pattern
Then again, sometimes – despite all your best efforts – it’s just too cold to smile (eh, Hunter?!). She wasn’t quite warm enough in her Moraine sweater…Iceland is COLD.

2. Bring props

A good ‘esthetically inoffensive’ toy or two can keep the little wrigglers still long enough for you to capture the goods. We like neutral coloured blocks and toys, but any bit of junk will work!

Max and Bodhi's Wardrobe eBook
You EAT that wooden raccoon, Bodhi! Eat it right up! Alexa bought a set of neutral-coloured wooden toys as props when we were photographing Max & Bodhi’s Wardrobe. At just eight months old, Bodhi was already moving a mile a minute, so anything that could distract her for a few seconds was helpful. Here she’s wearing the Bumble beanie and Peanut vest.

Flowers, sticks, leaves, and stones all work, too. Just make sure to keep it safe because there’s nothing more parent-guilt-inducing than your kids’ hurting themselves while you’re snapping away behind a camera. (I’ve been there; I know!).

Snap Hat Pattern
Amelia was entranced by the colourful autumn leaves while I snapped some cute photos of her in the Snap hat. Bonus tips: A neutral wardrobe will keep the knit centre stage, and shooting with a low depth of field will give the background a blurred-out effect.

3. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!

I like to set my camera to ‘rapid fire’ mode, especially with babies. Little ones don’t maintain the same facial expression for more than a split second, so you’ve gotta shoot FAST. And for the mood to be really ‘right’, you’ve gotta capture that split-second expression.

Strange Brew Yoke Sweater Recipe Pattern
We were on the most beautiful of holidays in the Canadian rockies, but Neve was having a bit of a moment – and I’m so happy I caught it! She’s wearing a Strange Brew yoke sweater.
Bounce Blanket pattern
Max, is that Bounce blanket tasty?!

4. Keep it short and sweet

Long photoshoots can be taxing on little ones and photographers alike, so I like to keep them short and sweet. I’ll weave a few photoshoots into the regular progression of a lazy weekend or take photos as part of a relaxed holiday – that way they don’t become too overwhelming. As for the sweet part, I like to keep my kids well-sugared for photoshoots. The next time I ask ‘pretty please can we take some pictures today?’, they’re champing at the bit because it’s a treat!

Prism Hat Pattern
Alexa took the ‘well-sugared’ advice to heart when she shot Hunter and Jones in their Prism hats. You can also notice the photographically inoffensive clothing she chose. Jean jackets forever!

5. Let them roam wild and free

I like to get my kids dressed up in their woollies and some neutral clothes, and then take them out to roam and play at a nearby park or beach. Photoshoots go well when kids are focussed on something other than the camera – and when you as the photographer take your time and watch for the shot. Just let kids play and be kids without any pressure to perform. They’re so beautiful when they’re playing!

Boardwalk cardigan pattern
Neve and I were just loving wandering along the Portobello front, and I captured this moment. How great does the Boardwalk sweater look against that minty green bench?!
Boardwalk sweater pattern
Hahahaha…a little bit later – and a LOT sandier!
Compass Sweater pattern
We went camping one summer. It was chilly (it’s Scotland), so Max and Neve were both wearing their Compass sweaters while playing in the lake. This wasn’t a planned photoshoot; I just happened to have my camera with me. The light was good, so I took advantage of the moment!

6. Avoid embellishments

Kids’ clothes (the ones my kids seem to reach for anyway) tend to be loud, with a metric tonne of sequins, sparkles, logos, graphics, and prints – and always pink, pink, pink. When I take them out to photograph, I cajole my little ones into a select supply of visually inoffensive clothes (which they’d never choose otherwise). I recommend denim, deep solids like black and navy, neutral colours, and tank tops, so the photo isn’t ruined by a neon shirt peeking out from underneath that oh-so-beautiful sweater. This allows the beauty of the kid and the beauty of the knit to shine without distraction.

7. Find simple backdrops

The best photographs draw the viewer’s eye to what’s important. We try to photograph kids against neutral, blurred-out backdrops, and we aim to contrast the backdrop with the model and knit in the foreground.

Antler Hat Pattern
I often use a nice, neutrally coloured stone wall as a backdrop. Ayanda is wearing the our free Antler toque.

We find that water, dark rocks, golden grass, sand, driftwood, and stone walls work well as neutral backdrops.

Caribou Cardigan pattern
Alexa often uses beach sand and blurry mountain backdrops. Hunter and Jones are wearing matching Caribou cardigans. For more delicious outdoorsy shoots and textured knits, check out the Road Trip eBook.

To achieve more of a ‘studio shoot’ aesthetic for our Mad Colour collection, we used industrial, painted walls as backdrops. This kept the images clean and minimalist but allowed us to find colour and contrast to highlight the knits.

Chromatic sweater pattern
Hunter is wearing the Chromatic sweater in a graphic black and white palette.

8. Bring a wrangler

You (nearly always) need a wrangler…or two. Having another adult around to look out for the safety of the situation is important. It lets me focus on the visuals and helps to keep stress levels manageable. And if I happen to be photographing only one of the kids, I’ll usually bring the other along as a playmate. The older kids get, the more they’re willing and able to follow directions, but Alexa and I love the simple authenticity of playful toddlers.

9. Use a neutrally dressed adult as prop or backdrop

Your wrangler may also serve as prop or backdrop! If you can convince them to wear some neutral clothing that won’t clash with the knit, that’s another win.

Antler cardigan pattern
John serves as a backdrop in this shot, wearing a black jacket and standing in front of a stone wall. Max was getting pretty playful that spring day, while wearing his Antler cardigan!
Max & Bodhi's Wardrobe eBook
John and Emily act as backdrops and support to Max and Bodhi, who are wearing nearly ALL the knits from Max & Bodhi’s Wardrobe!

So there you have it! Our nine tips for a great photoshoot with some happy, woolly clad children.

We’d love to hear any secrets you may have. Add a comment to share your tips for photographing wriggly kidlets!

~ Em

Woman with a big grin hugging two toddlers, all wearing colourwork jumpers
This is what it’s all about folks – you can tell they’re really loving, it, right?!
3 Comments leave one →
  1. rnguyengloria permalink
    May 24, 2021 8:37 pm

    These tips are fantastic; and those kiddos are ADORABLE!! I’ve known little people (big people too 😁) who will make a silly face when asked and then dissolve into giggles, which is when the great relaxed, natural smiles come out.

  2. Arlene Shipper permalink
    May 20, 2021 7:19 am

    Great pictures- enjoyed your article and tips!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. tw2019 permalink
    May 20, 2021 6:05 am

    This article has so many great ideas. Thank you very much for sharing. I’ll be saving for future reference for sure!

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