Butler Family Photography

Atlanta Parent asked three metro Atlanta photographers – Marchet Butler, N’neka Scruggs and Heidi Geldhauser – who take lots of children’s and family photos to help you plan your photo shoot. Keep these ideas in mind: Manage your expectations. You may not get a professional-looking photo. Professional photographers hone their camera and people skills for years, and they sometimes struggle with some kids.

Make it fun. Let the kids act out for the first part of the photo session. Take photos of them acting silly – sticking out their tongues, making faces, wiggling like a worm – before attempting a portrait.

Dress for success. Give your child a choice of outfits for the photo. Avoid clothing with large characters such as Sponge Bob or Mickey Mouse, which will detract from the image of your child. Solid colors may work better if the location provides a busy or complex background; patterns can compete with blooming flowers, for instance.

Color counts. Think about what you plan to do with the photo. If you plan to hang it in a room, will the colors of your child’s clothing compliment or clash with the room’s color palette? For a timeless and classic look, solid and neutral colors are best; for a casual look that shows your kids personality, go for colorful clothing.

Get the light right. For outdoor photos, all the pros say early morning or late afternoon is best, to avoid harsh light and squinty eyes. The sun is at its most flattering at those times – it casts a golden hue in late afternoon. If those times don’t work for your schedule, try shooting in shaded places.

Location, location. As long as the setting provides a nice backdrop for the photo, it doesn’t matter where you shoot it, including your own backyard. Be sure to avoid busy backgrounds with distracting elements. To make the shoot fun, try taking the kids to a place they love or on a new adventure. Public parks and botanical gardens are great for photos, as are town squares, a train museum, even an outdoor shopping center or church. If it’s private property, though, call ahead to get permission.

Posing, sort of. You want the photo to look natural, not your child sitting woodenly on a park bench. Let your child do things he wants to do – smelling a flower, playing with a dog, hugging a teddy bear, whispering in his sister’s ear.

Reward your model. Posing for photos is hard work – make it more fun by going for ice cream afterward or on a special outing.

Do it another day. Sometimes nothing works out – the kids are cranky, it’s too hot or too chilly, the location is too crowded. Don’t turn the photo shoot into a bad experience for the kids or they’ll be reluctant the next time the camera comes out.


Want great photos but don’t feel up to the task? Ask a professional photographer. Most photographers post examples of their work and pricing on their websites. Ask friends or family for recommendations of photographers they have used.

Three Atlanta Parent can recommend are:
Marchet Butler of Butler Family Photography. butlerfamilyphotography.smugmug.com, 770-363-1547.
N’neka Scruggs of Images by N’neka. imagesbynneka.com, 678-551-2933.
Heidi Geldhauser of Silly Goose Photo. sillygoosephoto.com, 770-722-3056.

– Amanda Miller Allen

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