Photographing Children Together When They Are Not Close In Age

I came up with the idea for this article one evening while I was editing a photo session. The photo session had been for a family with 2 kids, one aged 9 and the other 6 months. I love photographing children and showing their personalities and interactions together. A fantastic individual portrait of your child is a great thing to treasure. But no doubt you also want photos of your children together-and that is where it can sometimes be challenging, especially when they are not close in age. So I want to share my approach for photographing children together when they are not close in age. 

The relationship between siblings is special, even if your children don't realize it yet! I love photographing the natural interactions between siblings. Anytime I am taking photos of children I don't do a lot of posing and I never tell them to look at me and “say cheese”. My favorite photos are the ones that truly reveal who your children are and show them just enjoying life and being  themselves. These are the type of photos parents want of their children, the ones showing the true personalities of their children and how they interacted together growing up. 

If the older child is able, I like to have them hold the younger sibling, or at least have them sitting beside each other. (I always do this with parent’s supervision of course) I like to talk to children and let them say whatever they want. I’m patient and I listen. I will ask them “What is something you usually do at home when you are spending time with your sibling or when you are playing together?” If you are taking photos of your own children you have an advantage because you can already have in mind how your children interact and what moments you want to capture. So have your camera ready at home and photograph these daily interactions and moments!

I have found that giving kids very little direction-perhaps just asking them to talk to their sibling-provides some wonderful moments to capture. I love the interactions that happen when I do this because they are so genuine and natural. Every time I have photographed a kiss given to a younger sibling it has been completely spontaneous. That is because I stay observant and just let the kids interact together in whatever way they want.  

You don't need the photos to involve looking at the camera and smiling either. Just photograph your kids playing together. Photograph moments of play and time spent together doing normal activities. Watch for moments of the younger sibling observing the older sibling and wanting to do what they are doing. 

One of my favorite things to photograph is people hugging. All photos taken of children hugging look different and really allow you to see a connection between siblings. No matter the ages, I just let them be themselves. I talk with them, play games and joke with them. I will give some direction, such as, “Why don't we sit over here?” or “Tickle your brother.” The photos that end up being the best are the imperfect ones. Embrace the chaos!  

Plan some activities and then have your camera ready. Allow the children to be focused on the activity and then photograph while you observe. You will often be able to get more then one child in the photo doing the activity. Photograph everyday activities and routines. Take photos at the breakfast table or during other meals and of your children’s normal, daily interactions with each other. 

Don’t worry if your photos don't go as planned right away. Just embrace the photos and memories you do get and keep photographing as much as you can! Before you know it your children will be growing up and you will want these memories of them together at different ages!