Photographing Boys

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Article Courtesy by Rachel Myerson

My son just turned nine. This is wonderful age for many things, but not for photography. He is suspicious of anyone with a camera, and his school photo usually looks like a mug shot. Just because boys start to outgrow that cute “Mommy, take my picture” stage, doesn’t mean you want to stop their taking their picture and including them in great boy scrapbook pages. I spoke to Jolene Johnson, a professional photographer and mom to two boys to get her advice on how to photograph boys.

Jolene gives the following tips:

  • Let nature work for you. Take photos in natural sunlight at dawn or dusk when the sun is least likely to cast harsh shadows.

  • Capture kids with things they love, such as current toys or fads like Silly Bandz collections.

  • Capture interactions with pets or other family members.


  • Encourage personalities to shine through in photos. Chat with your child and engage him in conversation that will allow him to relax. Catch that unique smile or funny face he makes.

  • Take lots of photos! You'll have more chances of having that "perfect" shot.

  • Get high or low to change the photo's perspective.

Jolene’s sons often seem to have perfect hair in her photos, while mine never do in real life. I find that wind or hats are the perfect solution to messy boy hair.

Never Say “Cheese”

We ask people to say “cheese” when we take their picture because saying that sound makes the mouth into a smiley shape.  However, cheese isn’t a particularly joyful word for most boys and any word rhyming with “cheese” will have the same smiley effect. When taking a staged photo of boys, such as a team or other group shot, I suggest asking them to say something that rhymes with cheese, which will bring a happy or funny smile to their faces. Depending on the group, here are a few suggestions:

  • Poopies
  • Yankees
  • Burpies
  • Sneeze Please

Capture the Magic

Although a 9-year-old boy may appear as sullen as a teenager, the magical little boy is still inside. When he scores a goal, hears his name announced as the winner, or sees his favorite player send one out of the park, his face will light up. When one of these things might happen, keep your camera focused on his face and with a long lens, a fast camera, and a lot of patience, you may just capture the perfect smile for those boy layouts.


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