How To Take Better Photos Of Your Kids

By James Smith

Anyone with kids knows how quickly their phone storage fills up with fun snaps of their little darlings. But if we’re realistic—most of them aren’t worth framing to display on the mantle.

In my years as a photographer, I’ve picked up a few handy tips to help capture those beautiful moments to create keepsakes to cherish for years to come. Here are nine pointers to keep in mind when capturing those picture-perfect shots.

1.   Get on their eye-level

Whether your subject is a baby or an adult, the most natural way to connect with someone (in life or a photo) is to make sure you’re on the same plane. Think of your camera as your eyes. You want to meet your subject eye to “eye.” If you want to capture the action, make sure to frame the shot with the relevant items (toys they are playing with or puppies they are petting) between you and your subject. The extra foreground may make the subject a little out of focus but creates a more interesting photo.

2.   Get their attention

Put a fun stickeror something shiny on your phone case or at the top of the camera to draw their eyes toward you. You can even get some really fun phone cases that look like animals or cartoon characters that kids enjoy. If you want to keep them engaged, have someone blow bubbles behind you. This holds their attention and you might even catch the joy in their face when the bubbles pop and your subject is looking around for the next burst of excitement.

3.   Keep it light

If the kiddos are on the move in a dark room, the camera shutter will stay open longer trying to get enough light and the photo will end up blurry. If you can’t move the action outdoors to a sunny spot, try turning on lights in multiple locations or bounce the light from the flash off the ceiling to give the shot more definition and better color without the dreaded redeye.

4.   Get candid

The best photos usually aren’t posed. There is nothing worse than realizing you have a camera roll full of forced smiles. Instead, try to catch your children enjoying themselves at play or immersed in a favorite activity. If you must call attention to the fact that you are taking a picture, get them to look at a bird or a squirrel or just up into the trees rather than trying to convince them to hold a forced smile.

5.   Have your camera ready!

Nothing makes for an awkward photo more than saying, “Nobody move, I just need to open up my phone, eerr—oh, come on, phone. Ok, smile!” So make sure your phone’s camera is on, in your hand, and ready to capture the moment. When I’m working with my old school camera, I know where the power button is by feel to just flick it on without causing a fuss. Then it’s just a case of pointing it in the right direction and snapping away.

6.   Just one photographer

If you’re at a group gathering, have a dedicated person that will take the photos and send them around afterward. When multiple people are jockeying for the best shot, you wind up with weird angles or worse—the back of someone else’s head in the frame. And when everyone is shouting “smile!” the kids don’t know where to look.

7.   Mix it up

Step back and take wide shots of the whole scene, then change it up and get a couple of close-ups of your subject. When you’re looking at an album later, the variety will make the memories come to life.

8.   Be silly

A natural laugh or real smile makes for a much better photo. Tell a joke, shake a sparkly toy, or let them shout something silly. I’ve even resorted to singing “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” as loud as possible to help distract from the camera.

9.   Enjoy the process

Let taking photos of your family be a natural and unobtrusive part of any event or activity. Allow your subjects to play and relax. The best photos happen in the moment when everyone is enjoying themselves.

They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but capturing those perfect moments with your children is truly priceless. Pictures of your child’s true emotion and joyful expressions will be something you’ll want to look at over and over again for years to come.

Back to All Articles