My kids love camping, and with good reason! Roasting marshmallows, telling scary ghost stories, and giggling after dark in the tent—a perfect evening for imaginative and adventurous kids! Bringing the magic of a night under the stars to life with themed campfire sessions can be as easy as assembling a few key props. Decide if you want to line up a day of child mini-sessions or plan full sessions for families, then bring along a few (or all!) of the props listed below. You’re sure to get natural interactions and emotions from such a fun session!


A tent offers wonderful background interest and a place for kids to interact and spill their secrets to each other. Incorporating one can be as simple as using one that you already own, or setting one up on the fly using a white sheet and a few sticks. Try to stick to a neutral shade to avoid color casts and still let a little light in.



Whether used simply as decoration, or as something for the kids to hold onto, a lantern is a necessity for a campfire session. Bonus points if the lantern is a vintage red color and in working condition.


Like the lantern, a book can be a nice addition to the scene, or something the kids actually hold and look at. Depending on the age range you’re photographing, a book like this one could be a great addition.


S’mores can get a bit messy, especially for photos. Instead, let the kids be your assistant when they get there and give them a job of finding a long skinny stick. For the photos, don’t worry about actually roasting the marshmallows. Let them pretend and then eat the marshmallow right off the stick.


A rustic, thick log laying on it’s side is the perfect place for kids to sit to enjoy the fire and enjoy a nice conversation with each other about how toasty they like their marshmallows.


When deciding to use a fire, make sure it’s setup far enough away from where the kids will be sitting so that when they stand up, there’s no chance they could fall into the fire. Use creative angles when shooting to make the fire appear closer to them than it really is.


Anything plaid

Incorporate elements of plaid wherever possible to really make your set and props cohesive. Be on the lookout for plaid blankets, a thermos, and clothing items.

Deck of cards

For older kids, it would be fun to have them holding cards playing a game of Go Fish or War. And you’re sure to capture real emotion if you actually let them play a game. Think of other games that could be fun to play as well… checkers, jacks, or barrel of monkeys.


Sitting around the campfire singing songs is one of my favorite pastimes. The kids might not know the words to “Kumbaya” but pretending to play the guitar while enjoying the glow of a campfire could be pretty magical.

Image by Shalonda Chaddock, Chubby Cheek Photography