Tips: How to take great photos of your kids

how to take great photos of your kidsRight from when they were little babies my kids have been used to having a camera pointed at them.
Back in the early days we hadn’t really gone digital then. I was still using film and patiently waiting for them to be developed at my local photography store.
Of course, the advent of digital meant even more photos. Because let’s face it, it’s so easy to take every day snaps now.

My school of photography came at the hands of photo journalists. Working in a newsroom means you get to mix with the most amazing photographers. You get to watch them in action; see their ‘eye’; stand at their shoulder when they try to photograph those who don’t want to really be photographed.
Some photojournalists are an absolute joy to watch.

I picked up a lot of tips over the years.
Photographing your children is about capturing ‘them’. It’s about being abled to look back at that photo in years to come and it have the power to transport you straight back to that time and place.

So if you ever see photographs of other people’s children and think ‘I wish I could take photos like that of mine?’, well now you can. Because I’m going to share some tips to help you do just that.
You don’t need a fancy camera or expensive lenses (although once you do go down that route your photos can step up a whole new level).
And this isn’t about editing a photo to look amazing. This is about the basics of how to get a great shot straight out of camera.
I’m also doing this post for Cathy at Netmums who asked if I had any tips to share over on the Netmums Google + photography community. Yes Cathy, I’ve got LOADS!

How to take great photos of your kids

Kids taking photos

1. Make taking photos a habit.
My two children are used to me walking around with a camera attached to my hip; they’ve grown up with it and are pretty cool about me pointing a lens at them now.
It means they are totally at ease when a camera comes out. You could even involve your kids involved in the process by getting them to come up with ‘poses’ or taking photographs themselves.

2. If you can, set your camera to ‘continuous’ mode
Children by their very nature are all over the place so you need to be quick to capture a moment. You could take 15 photos of one thing and find that 1 is perfect and captures the moment exactly. But at least you got that 1! It’s also a great way of capturing a series of shots such as blowing a bubble/running/trampolining.

Mia portrait

3. Use natural light
Avoid using the flash as much as you can and get outside. Or if you’re in the house, sit your child by a large window, sit the other side of the window and use the light from there. It’s far more flattering and nothing says I’M TAKING YOUR PHOTO than a flash going off in their face.

4. Get down to their level.
It’s such a simple idea, but if you photograph a child from their point of view you get a much more interesting and intimate picture.
And then do the opposite; photograph them from above to show how small they are compared to the rest of the world.


5. Think about the background
If you take a cracking photo but there is a mass off stuff going on in the background, you’re going to distract from the subject matter and your eye will be drawn to the bin/lamp post/door frame behind them. Just be aware when framing your shot of background and if it looks unsightly, change your angle slightly to compensate. Or zoom in on one area; make your photo slightly quirky instead.

the boys

6. Photograph them in their natural habitat
You will get the best photos when you leave them to do what love because they will be totally natural. If they’re grubbing in the dirt or playing with friends or just reading, snap a photo – and DO NOT say ‘look at the camera’ or you will totally lose the moment.

7. Don’t just photograph the happy
Don’t wait for the ‘moment’ or it will be lost. These are children you’re capturing! It’s not just about the smiles it’s about that look of surprise or excitement or even fear/shock/disgust.
Just about the worst thing you can do when photographing children is to take an age doing it. They. Will. Get. Bored.

school play

8. If you have one, use your long-distance lens
Then sit in the background while they play or go about their business and snap away; they won’t even know you’re there.


9. There is beauty in detail.
Don’t just photograph ‘moments’. What about that curl of hair in the middle of your toddler’s forehead, or their long eyelashes, or their toes or a favorite toy?
Try to think outside the box and the ‘details’ that make your child who they are. I promise you, you will forget these little things as they grow older, so snap a photo so you never forget.

10. Never say ‘smile’
I have a trick I used to use with my daughter when she was little because she had this awful ‘fake’ smile she would plaster on her face whenever I was about to take a photo.
So I would yell at her in mock anger: “Mia, STOP smiling. No I mean it, stop it. You’re being too cute. STOP IT NOW!” Works every time.

Finally I would say the best thing you can do is experiment. Take lots and lots and lots of photos. Try quirky things, strange angles. In this day and age you can delete delete delete, so just snap away and get creative.
It’s about creating memories.

IMG_1070 IMG_2158

This entry was posted in Photography, Photography Help. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Tips: How to take great photos of your kids

  1. victoria says:

    Continuous capture is my bestfriend! Without it I would never get any good pictures of Rio..he doesn’t sit still long enough!! Like you say..I have to sort through hundreds, sometimes thousands of photos if we’ve been on a good weekend but its more than worth it!

  2. PhotoPuddle says:

    I have a top tip which I have recently worked out for myself. My daughter is going through a phase of wanting to pull silly faces when I ask to take her photo. This can be cute but also annoying. I have learned to take the silly face photo but also capture the moment immediately after where she giggles about pulling a face.
    My recent post 'Keep Your Composure…' By o . live . ia

  3. Sabina Green says:

    I use continuous too, it's great for when you are taking photos of more than one child at a time too. My question though is "what do you do with all of your photographs?" It is not unheard of for me to take 100 photos on a normal day at home bit when out for a day anywhere between 400-1000 pictures. I find it so hard to slim them down afterwards and if I created a photobook for all of my pictures I would be penniless!
    My recent post Review: Go Ape – Sherwood Pines

  4. Cathy @ netmums says:

    Thanks Sooooo much for this helpful post Tara. We've shared it everywhere 🙂

  5. Great tips. I feel like I'm implementing all these on a daily basis, which makes me feel good.
    I would say that my biggest issue with photographing my children is actually other people, grandparents namely! They like to very helpfully shout "Look at Mummy" as soon was I put my viewfinder to my eye. Or even worse they see me snapping and then grab their own camera or phone to take their own and then ruin my shot by getting in the way or spoiling the unaware moment I was capturing. I fear there isn't much I'll do about those issues though.
    They have at least all learned to NEVER say "cheese" or "smile" in my presence, they did that once and got a bit of a telling off. 😉

  6. Some great advice here Tara. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m gonna trade in my old camera for a nice digital one I think. You’ve inspired me, thank you xxx

  7. Fantastic post, I need things like this to make me think every time I pick up the camera *goes find that continuous thingy to see if hyperactive child finally becomes less of a blur*
    My recent post 40th birthday preparations (or lack thereof)

  8. SusanKMann says:

    Some great tips Tara, thanks for sharing x
    My recent post The Gallery 152 – Play

  9. CercahCeria says:

    here is my 2 cent for #7, sometime i just take my boys picture using notebook camera while they enjoy the games 'coz there are so many expression on their face haha. anw, great tips Tara. thanks!
    My recent post Wajah Bumi dan Cincin Saturnus dari Cassini-Huygens

  10. Karen Cake Chops says:

    Great tips, I really need to use continuous capturing mode more. I never thought to get down to the childrens level either, will pass these tips onto my husband!
    My recent post How do you fit it all in?

  11. Pingback: Goodreads #2

  12. Pingback: The Photo Gallery: Week 186 | Sticky FingersSticky Fingers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge