Child Life Portraits are full of personality and life.

Portrait sessions with children can be a bit of a stress for parents.  They set an arbitrary date for their kids to look great, act sweet, mind their manners and smile!  Then they collect the outfits, rush out the door, put the kids in the car for the long drive to the studio where they will do their best to control their children, coax, threaten, cajole and plead… hoping that their little ones will look beautiful and precious and happy even if they are completely different in real life.  The session results in bribes that get bigger and bigger or threats that become so unrealistic that the children (even the two-year-old) know their parents are bluffing on the threats and lying about the rewards.  And this is what the parents are paying good money for?  Everyone wants a beautiful portrait of their children on the wall and most of us hope that it will show off the very best in our kids.  It has been hard raising kids and parents want to show everyone what amazing little people they have created and trained.

child portrait by jared platt in aspen grove in arizona

Well, here is the problem as I see it, and I have seen a lot of child portrait sessions.  The problem is that parents are too eager to micromanage the portrait session that they are paying for.  They have hired someone who is skilled at finding those precious moments, who has a talent for interacting with kids, even a gift of connecting with children on a level that the parents may never be able to accomplish on their own, and yet they will stress and threaten and even direct their children during the photo shoot.  If you are a photographer, you know exactly what I am talking about.  If you are a parent reading this post, take my advice and just step back and relax.  Your photographer should take the reigns on this photoshoot, let the photographer drive and you just get out of the way and enjoy the show.  It will be a crazy little show, but your bribes and threats aren’t going to make the photoshoot any better.  In fact, the rising stress levels will break your kids down faster.  Trust your photographer to make the beautiful images you see on their website for you without your help.  And if the photographer needs you to do something, they will ask you to help.  Otherwise, just hang out and enjoy watching the show.  If your kids are a bouncing off the walls that day, resist the urge to discipline… it’s a photo shoot, let it be fun for them.  Better images are made with children who are having fun that with children who are “holding still.”

My portrait sessions are called “Child Life Portraits,” because I want my clients to understand the reason for the images.  They are not an 18th-century oil painted portrait that shows a child as the world or the parent expects or hopes they will be with every flaw removed.  I am making images that express the nature of children AS THEY ARE, which is perfect and energetic and angry and sad and happy and curious and hyper and sleepy and bored and wonderful and silly and cute and yes, even messy.  When I make children’s portraits, they are sessions that go wherever the children take us and my clients are the kind of people who want a portrait of their children that shows who they really are with all their flaws and all of their eccentricities and all of their strengths and perfections.

Child Life Portraits are the real portraits that come from a photographer with a love for reality, they are born in appreciation for documentary photography, landscape photography and stylized editorial portraiture and fashion.  Being real doesn’t mean we never create a set for the portrait session or dress the kids up in great outfits or hand them props to play with, it just simply means that we inspire them to be themselves no matter where they are or what they are doing.  It is my goal as a children’s photographer to capture the essence of the child no matter what environment we are in.  If this idea sounds great to you, you may want to give me a call for your next portrait session.  If you can’t let go of the control… there are plenty of photographers out there for you.  I’m just not that guy.  If you are a photographer and want to create more images like the ones you see in this slideshow, I teach workshops online and across the world.  Contact me to find one near you.


This video is an example from my 30 Days Project where I am making the commitment to share more work, more often, in more places.  If you are a photographer, enjoy the inspiration and read on about how I made this slideshow and make sure to tune in for the how-to videos to come in the coming weeks.  If you are a parent and would like images of your children that show who they really are, feel free to contact me anytime.  I travel internationally and have taken children’s portraits from Arizona to China and everywhere in-between.  Contact me here.

The slideshow program I used for this slideshow is called Smart Slides.  Smart Slides is the absolute simplest tool available for making slideshows.  It takes a total of 30 seconds to make a stunning slideshow (not counting the upload of the images and song – that is based on your internet speeds).  It is based on the idea that the most important thing about your slideshow is your images, which I agree with completely.  There are only three steps:  add the images, choose the music, choose the transitions. That’s it.  Here is where the Smart Slides tool shines: Smart Slides produces the cleanest, most perfect slideshows available in any tool on the planet.  I upload 4K or larger images, the system makes the appropriately sized images for every size device and then feeds those images to the slideshow as needed for the device on which the slideshow is being played.  For instance, if you are reading this on your 27-inch Retina display, you have probably noticed that other slideshows are a little pixelated on your screen, things don’t look great in full-screen mode and that is because you have a very high-resolution monitor.  This slideshow will look GREAT on your monitor, on your iPhone, iPad, laptop… it doesn’t matter what you play it on, it will look perfect as long as you feed the slideshow from Smart Slide’s servers.  There is also a 1080P HD download option and I am posting that one on Vimeo.  I suggest you watch it once on Vimeo in HD and once on my blog in 4K to see the true difference between a HD Video File and a 4K HTML Slideshow Feed.  I am in love with the quality of the Smart Slides slideshows for my Blog.  The one shortcoming in the system is that when you post on Facebook, you really need to download the HD video file and post it so that Faceboook sees it as a video rather than a link out (Facebook likes video in the actual feed and they don’t like links out).  They have some music that comes with the service, but as you should know by now, I am a big fan of Triple Scoop Music’s incredible library of music.

This slideshow on Vimeo:

This Slideshow on my Blog:

Speaking of tools, this whole 30 Days project is possible because of Triple Scoop Music’s new subscription-based service which allows users to pay one monthly fee rather than per song.  If you are producing projects and need music, I highly recommend Triple Scoop Music.  The service is full of great original songs from independent artists.  License one song at a time, or sign up for the subscription service and use as many songs as you need, whenever you need them.  Learn more at

Music in this video licensed through

Unlimited music licensing plans are normally $995 per year and up.  However, right now, for a limited time, there is special pricing! Get yours for just $499 per year (annual billing) or $49 per month when you sign up this month.  If you only use one new song each month, you will save $221 this year.  At those prices, I will save $1,301 this month alone!  That’s pretty amazing.  Choose all the music you need all year long. Choose from over 35,000 hand-picked songs and soundtracks.  Click here to learn more:

Use the code “JAREDPLATT18” and save an extra 10% on your music membership!

If you are a Vimeo fan, you can watch this project unfold at my Vimeo Album:

For a complete list of my equipment, you can go to B&H Photo Video.

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