Photographing Dad: 4 Tips for Perfect Pictures

Photographing Dad: 4 Tips for Perfect Pictures
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Photographing dads shouldn’t be stressful! Here’s how to craft moment-driven family photos with fathers at the forefront. (Featuring: KEVIN HESLIN)

Dads have a long-standing reputation for loathing the photography experience.

But why? Perhaps it’s residual trauma from the all-plaid wardrobe commemorated in his family’s church directory photos? Or maybe it’s his recurring nightmare about the train barreling toward him as he lounged awkwardly on tar-streaked railroad tracks holding a “SENIOR” foam cut-out.

Whatever the reason, we challenged the assumption that photographing dads is an uncomfortable chore.

Here’s how three photographers make incredible photos featuring Dad. 


Photo by Kevin Heslin


Photographer Kevin Heslin respects his clients’ initial fear of being photographed.


“Like most people, [dads] feel awkward and stiff in front of the camera – and I bet it shows in all the cell phone photos they have of themselves!” jokes Kevin. “But photos are so important. Years from now, their kids [will] want to see these photos [of] when they were young and running around with their dad.”


Kevin employs a storytelling approach to photographing dads that ensures more than beautiful portraits; he’s documenting memorable moments.

Photo by Kevin Heslin


Prompt #1 from Kevin: “You don’t have to do anything”


Kevin knows camera-shy people can feel frozen by anxious thoughts, like, “I’m so awkward,” and, “Is it over yet?” A worried client, in Kevin’s experience, is an un-photogenic client, with expressions ranging from plastered-on smiles to grumpy scowls. These results only reassure the client that they are every bit as un-photogenic as they believed.

“I like to hang out with my clients before a photo shoot, and let them know that they don’t have to do anything at all for my camera. Before photographing dads and kids, I spend a good amount of time talking with them with my camera down so they can get comfortable with me. I let them know they just need to interact with their kids like they normally would, and I’ll be snapping away.”

– Kevin Heslin, Photographer


Photo by Kevin Heslin

Prompt #2 from Kevin: “Emphasize activities, not poses”


Kevin looks for genuine emotion in his images, and he achieves this by focusing on activities, not poses. He directs a kid to “sneak up” on their dad with a big bear hug, or documents a real-world interaction like building a doghouse or brushing a kid’s teeth. In short, for Kevin, the world is full of inspiration. Photographing dads gets Kevin as close to that inspiration as possible.

“Most stuff I usually just make up at the session. I find something in the environment–a log to jump up on, or a little hill–and try to think up something fun to do where they can [interact] with each other. Then they forget all about the camera and flash beautiful, genuine smiles.”

– Kevin Heslin, Photographer


Want to read on? Click here for the full blog!

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