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Top Tips for Kid Portraits from Karen Haberberg
Interview with Cecilia Magazine

Karen Haberberg is an award-winning photographer, teacher and author whose passion for children and their well-being resulted in her book, An Ordinary Day — Kids with Rare Genetic Conditions, in which she photographed and interviewed 27 families with children who have genetic disorders.

Educated at Brandeis University, NYU and the ICP (International Center of Photography), Karen is a Lucie Award winner who also gives back to the community through her work as a teacher.  I interviewed Karen about her career and her top tips for taking kids photos.

At what age did you know you wanted to become a professional photographer?

I received my first manual camera at the age of 13 from my Uncle Ben. I didn’t know I wanted to be a photographer then, but I did know immediately that I loved taking pictures.

What made you want to do your book An Ordinary Day — Kids with Rare Genetic Conditions?

An Ordinary Day was a labor of love for me. My parents lost a child to Tay-Sachs disease before I was born, and almost 50 years later, they still suffer from the loss of my brother, Rafi.

More recently, my best friend’s son was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome. Hearing her struggles and victories made me realize how families who have children with rare genetic conditions receive little attention and how common it actually is.

What aspect of teaching gives you the most satisfaction?

I love getting my students excited about photography. It’s inspiring to see how much progress they make both technically and artistically in just a few weeks. One of my favorite aspects of teaching is helping students to develop their style and make work that they feel good sharing with me and the world.

What’s been your proudest moment as a photographer?

My proudest moment was when my first book was published. It was a very challenging book emotionally and logistically to create. When the book arrived and I started to peel open the box and saw the bound cover, I held it in my hands and thought, I DID IT.

What are your top tips for anyone wishing to take the perfect kids photo?

  • Are your subjects doing something they love? If you’re shooting them “happy” — be it playing in the park or listening to a bedtime story — you’ll get the best results.

  • Be creative.

  • Photograph your subject from a variety of angles and distances.

  • Use your flash to fill in shadows around the eyes and the rest of the face, even on a sunny day.

  • Timing is everything. Be patient and wait for the right moment to press the shutter, even if that moment comes on a different day.

  • Have another adult on the scene. It’s tough trying to be a successful mom and photographer at the same time!


To read the full interview and see examples of Karen’s work, visit

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