Photographing a Shy Child ~ How to Get Them To Interact

How you ever had to take pictures of a shy child? This little girl, Isabel, was just adorable.  Who would believe she was super shy? She was…

Photographing a shy child can be a challenge.  Having props, tools, and a gift for conversation, can help get a shy child to open up.

So in this Blueprint I will explain, not only the post processing of one of the shots but how I got her talking and jumping.

When she arrived, she wanted to cling to her mom. So with a few props I got her to open up for a few minutes in order to grab some fun shots.  It started with a reflector and peek-a-boo.  She seemed to love this.  I hid behind the reflector then would come out and get her laughing. Eventually I had the camera ready to shoot as I came out from behind the reflector.

Next prop – an umbrella. As shown below. As you can see – this got her interacting (as she then played peek-a-boo with me).  The hard part was focusing at an aperture of 2.0 or so while having 2 seconds to get the shot.  She would lift the umbrella up to reveal her face and then right back down.  I had to be fast.


Once she warmed up, she would give me a minute before she would decide getting in pictures was not on her agenda for the day. But even in these small windows of time, I was able to act fast and get some sweet shots.  She looks like such a little princess in these. The black and whites were processed 1st in color using MCP Complete Workflow’s Peek-a-Boo and then Color Burst.  Then I used MCP Quickie Collection’s Vanilla Ice Cream, which is my “go to” black and white action.

isabel b&w

At the end of this brief photo shoot, I tried one more time to get Isabel interacting, and dared this pretty 3 year old to jump as high as she could. Now I know it looks like she did a great job.  And she did.  But part of what happened was “behind the scenes.” I told her I would take the pictures not looking.  So I set my camera to all focus points, put the camera on the ground angled slightly up, asked her to jump, and fired away. Then each time, I would have her come over and see the shots.  After 3 tries, I got her from this great perspective, in focus. YAY!

Now for the blueprint part…

For processing this shot:

– Step 1: Ran the MCP Complete Workflow’s Peek-a-Boo to brighten up the shadow areas of the photo as well as her skin (she was very tan)

– Step 2: Ran MCP Complete Workflow’s Color Burst.  This is the action I use on the majority of my pictures. It adds contrast and color pop without messing with skin tones.

– Step 3: Speaking of skin tones, her skin was a little yellow/orange mainly from her tan.  But I wanted to brighten it up and fix the colors.  I used MCP Touch of Light.  This Photoshop action is free on my site. I painted the light on her face and skin with a 30% opacity brush.  Then I used the accompanying Touch of Darkness on the background to make the colors a tad richer.

– Step 4: Fix skin color…  I used curves to color correct.  This method is taught in my Color Fixing Workshop. In case you are familiar with it, I got my numbers in check by reducing red (adding cyan), and adding blue (reducing yellow). I used the masks to have this effect certain areas more than others so it was not applied globally.

– Step 5: Retouching – hard to see here, but she had what I believe was stitches above her left eye (so our right).  I used the clone and patch tool to get rid of that.

– Step 6: Ran MCP Eye Doctor to just add a little spark to her eyes – and enhance the catch lights.

– Step 7: Put in MCP Magic Blog It Board to show you and sharpened for web.

jump for joy

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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  1. 4


    AWESOME Friday Blueprint!!! Love the tips to help a shy child open up and the step-by-step editing. I normally use Take My Color Away action from Complete Workflow to get dramatic black and whites, but I’m IN-LOVE with Quickie Collection’s Vanilla Ice Cream…it’s now on my wish list! Thanks Jodi!

  2. 5


    GREAT captures Jodi, and of course the pp is amazing (wouldn’t expect anything less!) I really appreciate the tips on interacting, that’s one thing I don’t have a lot of experience with except for with my own kid!

    I need to get some of your actions, I’ve been trying to do all my pp (or most) in LR so have been avoiding PS actions.. but sometimes you just have to do it!

  3. 6

    Heather Price........vanilla moon says

    These shots are amazing,considering what you had to do to get them,processed beautifully too!

  4. 8


    For the black and whites, did you get that nice contrast by running the color actions first and then the Vanilla Ice Cream action? Does running color actions first and then b/w actions always increase contrast? Thanks for the great advice!

  5. 12

    Sherri LeAnn says

    Amazing tips on working with a shy child – I have had problems in the past with a shy client & managed to get SOME decent shots but nothing as spectacular as this
    I will have to try your tricks next time around : )


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