Princess Charlotte: How to photograph children, like the Duchess of Cambridge

Princess Charlotte Image copyright HRH Duchess of Cambridge

Taking photos of your child on their birthday might not get you recognition from the Royal Photographic Society, like the Duchess of Cambridge, but most parents understand the work that goes into capturing the moments that will be treasured for many years.

So what makes a good photograph of a child? Art critics say it's all about the emotion, and that parents often make the best photographers for their children, as the best photos are "full of love".

Image copyright HRH Duchess of Cambridge
Image caption The Duchess of Cambridge took this photo of Princess Charlotte on her first birthday
Image copyright HRH Duchess of Cambridge
Image caption In this photo, the Duchess of Cambridge crops out the toy and compromises on framing to focus on her daughter

For Jemella Binns, who specialises in photographing children, the key thing is to try to let the child's character shine through.

"I focus on getting the child really comfortable so they can be themselves. I'm always prepared to make myself look really silly with props and toys to keep the child engaged and entertained.

"The more comfortable the child is, the less forced and unnatural the photos will look," she says.

Image copyright Jason R Joseph
Image caption Action shots are a great way of capturing a child's personality, says photographer Jemella Binns

In addition to ensuring the basics are in place - natural lighting, good colours, stylish framing - it's important to keep the process as organic as possible.

This involves avoiding a situation where the child is doing something they don't want to do.

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"I tell parents not to pressure their children into smiling because some babies are not smiley, so it can seem really fake. And when the child has a missing tooth, making them smile might not be the best thing," says Miss Binns.

Image copyright HRH Duchess of Cambridge
Image caption This photo of Prince George holding his younger sister was taken by the duchess a few weeks after Princess Charlotte was born

Echoing this is Jazz von Loeben, an agent at the Pixie Child Model Agency. She says that the sort of pictures that make it into the portfolios of the child models she represents are the most organic-looking.

"Happy pictures are the best pictures. The ones in which the child looks like they are genuinely enjoying themselves," says Ms von Loeben.

Image copyright HRH Duchess of Cambridge
Image caption Let the child's character shine through by doing activities they enjoy

"Princess Charlotte's photos include a lot of movement, which I love," says Miss Binns, "Having her run around and climb a fence really shows her fun spirit.

"For children of Charlotte's age, it's always great to take the photos outside, instead of in a studio, so the child can run around."

Five tips

By Emma Lynch, BBC News website picture editor

  • Choose a familiar or relaxed environment where they can be themselves
  • Avoid contrived poses - let them play - focus on moments of action and natural expression
  • Get down to their level
  • Make the most of natural light
  • Interact with them and make it fun

The ultimate trick in getting the young child co-operate is to let them see themselves, adds Miss Binns.

"Always show the child their photos, children love to see themselves!"

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