How to Take Great Photos: 12 Top Tips for Photographing Kids

Kellie Kearney

July 9, 2020

Mykidstime photographing kids

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Hands up if you’re you a snap-happy parent! When we were kids, the camera was taken out for birthdays, family holidays and other special occasions – but now, it’s so easy to take photos with our phones and edit them immediately. Improve your pics with our 12 top tips for photographing kids that will help you capture all those fantastic memories!

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Staged smiles and posed photos are cute, but it’s the candid moments of childhood in their natural habitat that tells the story of childhood and growing up.

You don’t need an expensive camera when it comes to photographing kids to capture these precious images, a phone can be just as good and is more likely to be on hand for those quick-fire photos.

Here are my top tips when it comes to photographing kids and don’t worry, they’re all beginner-friendly.

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Photographing Kids Can Be Child’s Play!

Mother and daughters for photographing kids
Sometimes photographing kids with bundles of energy, especially toddlers, can be challenging – I should know, I have four kids! My lot are curious little explorers who aren’t afraid of the camera and I love nothing more than capturing the magic in our outdoor adventures.

I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but I would very rarely ask my kids to pose. I like to keep it natural and capture their true expression – these tips really help with that.

 #1. Get To Know Your Camera

If you have a camera, get to know it. Does it offer RAW files for edits? Go through the menu settings and learn how each one works. Figure out how to pop up the flash in a hurry. Does it have an autofocus mode for active kids? Always read the instructions when you get a camera, look up reviews and see if there is a YouTube video tutorial online – chances are there will be hundreds.

If you have a mobile with a good pixelated camera, take it off manual. Again play with the settings, look for some tutorials and figure out which one works best for you. Download photography apps with different modes to play with and find out which works best for you.

#2. Remove the word “CHEESE”

If you want to shoot an authentic photo stop telling the kids to say cheese, find the magic in their face. To get that timeless image with a natural expression, let them do their thing.

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#3. Let Them Run Wild

girl and boy having a water fight for photographing kids

When photographing kids, capture them in their natural environment – carefree, with wide smiles.

Keep it simple. Kids don’t need to be looking at the camera or the phone. Watch them run wild in muddy puddles, capture the moment they raid the biscuit tin – these are the pictures you will laugh at in years to come.

#4. Be Quick!

Children are fast so you have to be quick, otherwise you’ll find yourself with blurry or out of focus photographs. Then take a million pictures – seriously, hundreds. Just keep tapping the shoot button, you’ll be guaranteed to get at least one good image.

#5. Wait For It, Don’t Force It

You will need lots of patience when it comes to photographing kids, especially if you have an idea of the picture you would like to shoot. If you try to force it, the kids won’t cooperate (isn’t that the case with all parenting?!).

Just be patient and wait – the right time will come.

#6. Have A Playful Approach

kids playing for photographing kidsLike above, be playful and try to avoid staging photographs. Posing is a no-no when it comes to photographing kids. Let them play, sing or dance and always show them the pictures you’ve taken of them. Children love to see what they’ve created and they might even come up with some more pictures ideas for future shoots.

#7. Get Down To Their Level

Be creative, get down to their level and make it enjoyable. Some of the best pictures I’ve ever seen, when it comes to family photography, are taken at your kids’ eye level.

Bend down, lie down or roll across the floor if you have too – you never know, their reaction from your silliness may just be the photo of the year!

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#8. Be In The Picture

mother and daughter laughing for photographing kidsIf I was to ask you how many pictures you have with you actually in the picture, how many would that be? Last year it was only a handful for me.

It’s so important for mums and dads to also be in the photos, and part of the memories to reflect on. Rectify the problem by getting your partner, friends or a passerby to get snap happy on your behalf.

#9. Shoot Everything!

Photographing kids isn’t just about milestones or big moments like birthdays or parties. Take photos of everyday moments, the moments in between all the madness.

Some children get nervous and start acting up or unnatural when a camera is pointed in their direction. If the picture-taking happens regularly and naturally, this is a lot less likely to happen as they get used to it.

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#10. Let THEM Be the Photographer

Boy with camera for photographing kids

Make it a game, allow them be in charge and capture you. They will love being the photographer and will more than likely want to be in the picture afterwards.

Also, fulfil their curiosity and show them where the photos go after you take them. Print them at home or online and let them help you. Create photo books or photo albums with all the beautiful pictures you’ve taken of your kids.

My tip: Open a Dropbox account or use Google Photos to store your images. It’s a great place to keep your memories in case the worst happens and you lose your phone or your laptop crashes.

#11. Make the Most of Natural Light

baby boy sitting on the grass for photographing kidsGet yourself some good light because it’s vital to capturing the perfect photo. You don’t have to spend money on fancy lights, just use natural daylight or the built-in flash on your camera or phone.

Having the right light is one of the best tools you can avail of, and good natural light can reduce the need for filters and fixing.

#12. And If All Else Fails…

If nothing else works, try reverse photography! Trick them into getting the photo you want. If you want them to sit, tell them to stand – you know the drill, kids will more than likely do the opposite of whatever they think you want them to do!

Always remember a true portrait will reflect your child’s personality, not a false smile or a forced moment in time. If you are not in the moment, you won’t capture the moment.

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How to Take Great Photos 12 Top Tips for Photographing Kids - Mykidstime

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Published On: July 9th, 2020 / Categories: For Parents / Last Updated: July 18th, 2021 / Tags: /

About the Author: Kellie Kearney

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Award-winning blogger Kellie Kearney is a mammy of six. Kellie spends her days bribing her kids, counting to three and making memories, whatever the weather, finding free or cheapish family-friendly days out just so they will sleep through the night! (She also hosts a series ‘Adventures of Eire’ over on her award-winning parenting blog

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