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Q: I want photos of my 3-year-old, but he's a tad feisty. I need a pro who can get him to sit still, maybe even smile.

A: There's more to a being a children's photographer than owning a Canon and some lights: You really have to love what you do. Calming a hyper toddler or coaxing a smile from a teary newborn requires Sisyphean patience (and, when that runs out, a stockpile of Cheerios). The following photographers come well recommended.

  • Putting stuffed animals on her head and tickling toddlers is all in a day's work for Nancy Ribeck (at A Child's Portrait; 212-534-3433). "In ten years, I've put on a lot of puppet shows," she admits. Her shots consistently capture children's personalities (she'll pose budding musicians with their instruments, for example) and still feel spontaneous and unstaged.

  • The traditional style of Kate Burton's hand-painted black-and-white photos (212-717-9958) belie her unconventional methods. "Kids hate to sit. I let them run around outside, then follow with my camera." How does she make them laugh? "I used to ask the kids to sneeze -- they thought it was really funny. But their ahhh-chooos got so loud, my neighbor complained."

  • For years, Sarah Merians's wedding portraits (212-633-0502) earned her company raves from the Town & Country set. Soon her former bridal clients were clamoring for Merians to photograph their newborns. Now she sounds like an old hand: "Jumping around, standing on my head -- I'll do whatever it takes."


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