Tips for photographing tweens and teens

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Hello! I’m Carrie, a photographer in Salt Lake City, Utah and I’m so excited to be a contributor here at Capturing-Joy. Today, I’m talking about something that is near and dear to my heart as all of my three kids currently fall into that tween and teen category. Read on to get some tips on photographing teens and tweens find out why I feel photographing your older children is so important…and how I get mine to cooperate.

He’s not a newborn anymore. We’re not trying to capture a grin with those first little teeth breaking through. He’s not pulling himself up on the furniture or rolling over in his crib. Those first steps have already been documented and we have lots of photos of his first bites of food and his first giant smiles with those sparkling eyes.

He’s thirteen now.

tips for photographinng teens and tweens by Salt Lake City Utah photographer Carrie Owens


You know the age, you probably remember what you looked like and how you felt at that age.

The stage that so many people consider to be awkward and perhaps even not so photogenic. But he’s still changing every day. It might not be as earth shattering and as amazing as being mobile for the first time, but it’s monumental in its own right. Maybe even more so…because he will remember. When he’s 40 he will look back on his early teen years and he will remember. He will remember how he felt, how he looked, how he wanted to look, who his friends were…he will remember so much of this stage.

Collage of three images of teenage boy by Sandy Utah photographer Carrie Owens

But I might forget. These years go by so fast. And I’ve got three of them. He’s just the first to turn thirteen but the other two aren’t far behind. Before I know it all three of them will be off to college and these three little humans will be off living their lives. I’m working as hard as I can to ensure that they are growing up strong and ready to go out into the world. These years that they are living right now are the years that shape who those future adults will be. But they just go so fast for a parent.

Someday, when my son comes to me as an adult to share big news with me, I’ll have glimpses of memories of that same person coming to me as a young teenager…I’ll remember the day that he passed me up on the height chart, I’ll remember when he was first old enough to sit next to me in the front seat of the car. And I’ll remember him flashing me that same sweet smile. And in order to ensure that those are more than just glimpses of memories I must document this stage of life. I must. I cannot be satisfied with school photos or team photos or photos at his games and swim meets. Those are wonderful and so very important. But I also need to document him as he is today and every day.

Collage of images of teenage guy by Utah photographer Carrie Owens

You may be wondering how to do that. You’ve put the camera away except for those big holidays and your tweens and teens put their hands in front of their faces when you try to get a photo. I understand that. Mine get that way, too. But I persist. I keep asking. I keep taking photos. They aren’t all winners, but they tell the story of who my son is right now.

Some tips on how to photograph your teen or tween:

  • Take photos of them doing what they love. When they’re happy, they’re more inclined to go along with your request. Or they’re too busy to notice. Snap away.
  • Photograph them in their space, get images of them in their rooms surrounded by their things. Have them show you things that are important to them.
  • Ask them for a one on one “date” where you can take them and do a little mini shoot and get them talking to you or schedule a photo session with a photographer.
  • When they put up their hand or make a silly face, let them. Ask them nicely (this takes practice) if they’ll let you take a photo. If they say no, wait for another time. Start a conversation at a later time about the fact that it’s important to you to photograph them. Let them know why it’s important. Get them on your side.
  • Tell them they look good, that you’re proud of them. We told them this when they were little, no need to stop now…teens like knowing that you’re trying to show them at their best. They feel self conscious and nervous enough of the time. They need to know you’re on their side.
  • Always ask their permission before posting an image online or have a conversation about what they are comfortable with you posting of them. When they’re little, these things may not matter to them as much but as they start developing their own online personality it is important to allow them the ability to say no. You don’t have to post every photo online. Keep some for just your family. If they know that you’ll respect the photos of them they will be more likely to be okay with you photographing them.

Some articles that you will find on my blog about documenting your children and their lives:

Documenting everyday life by Salt Lake City Utah photographer Carrie Owens

documenting everyday life | documenting after school | documenting youth sports


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