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Tips for Taking Great Photos of Your Children

So now that we all feel way more comfortable with our camera and settings, lets talk about our most famous subject to shoot, our kids! 🙂

Kids can be the most fun and rewarding subject to shoot but also the most difficult. When I have kids in the studio I know I may only get 20-30 minutes of actual shooting time, even though most of the time they are there for 45 minutes to an hour. I am not pushy with kids either, I am a go with the flow kind of photographer. If they are crying and freaking out the pictures are going to be terrible. Every once in while mom will want one of the crying photos, because hey, that is their kid! But for the most part we all want great pictures of our kids!

I will admit, put a point and shoot camera in my hand and I will happily click away at every little thing, blurry, over exposed and pictures of nothing happen all the time. In all honesty when I am with my kids I RARELY break out my big girl camera. I am very much an in-the-moment kinda mom, and messing with the settings and pretty much any thinking makes me feel like I have missed everything. But every so often I like to break out the big boy and get images that I fall in love with, even if its just them playing with bubbles or coloring.

Tips for Great Photos

SOOOOO how do you get those awesome images? Here are some tips and tricks to help you next time you want to photograph your kids!

  1. ALWAYS keep in mind a little picture time with mom is exactly that, LITTLE! You may have 5-7 minutes at the MOST to complete any style shoot! Don’t get frustrated or push to hard, if something isn’t working change it up! Some kids just aren’t going to do it, keep reading for more tips below! The coloring photos in this blog post were taken in about 6-8 minutes, I have maybe 5-7 that I really love and hey, that’s okay with me!


This shot above was taken with all natural and available light, no flash

 2. DITCH THE FLASH, PLEASE!!!! 🙂 Open the windows, WIDE open and let that light in! If you have a sliding door even better! Open the front door and let that light in!  Shoot in that light and lose the flash! If you are still shooting in auto mode your flash will more than likely still pop up, switch it to another mode (shutter priority, aperture priority or manual!)  and play around! You will more than likely enjoy the photos more without the flash! Sometimes flash is a must and that is totally okay, no need to worry about it, sometimes there is no choice! You just want to avoid the situation below, it is obviously over exposed (too bright) and there is quite a bit of detail lost.

Yucky over exposed flash picture:

Over Exposed Picture with Flash

3. Give them an activity! Some kids won’t sit still for any kind of shoot at home. So try taking pictures of your kids when they are doing something, something that will hopefully make them sit still for a few minutes! Coloring, playing with clay, painting, reading, even playing a board game. This will help them sit still and help you get those in the moment photos.

4. If outdoors, shoot in the shade, ALWAYS! It will make for a better picture and no harsh sun or squinty eyes will be in the photos! If you have NO shade get hats on or shoot with the sun behind the subject, sometimes if you shoot low enough, the person can block the sun! Try avoiding high noon shooting if you can!

5. Kids will be kids and focus. Let them have fun, maybe tickle each other or give hugs and kisses. Remember to focus on the subject and make sure you aren’t focusing on a wall or something else in the background. This is where your aperture REALLY makes a difference. If you have a low aperture you really have to pay attention to what you are focusing on, just think of it as: the lower the aperture the less that is in focus beyond what you are focusing on. I usually like to keep the general rule to keep it at or above how many people are in the photos, but rarely do I shoot ANYTHING below a 2! Also keep in mind how close your subject is the the “backdrop” whether that is a wall or a tree line. If you want that pretty bokeh like we talked about in the first blog post, make sure you put distance between your subject and the backdrop! Sometimes shooting with a moving subject will cause the camera to focus all over, check a few pictures and make sure your camera and you were on the same page!

 Just a little bokeh:

A little bokeh

Notice how the background has that slight blur but the girls really pop out?! The person taking the pictures is close to the subject while background is father away and that gives it the nice bokeh! This photo WAS taken with a professional grade flash pointed straight up and using the ceiling to bounce the light. Unless you want to make the investment in a flash I would again, encourage flash free shooting! (Cloudy, dark, rainy day!)

6. If you HAVE to use flash (ie: nite, dark, etc) Make sure it isn’t over powering. If you can, change your settings to accommodate for the extra light! Turn up your shutter speed, turn up your aperture and turn down your ISO.

Even Light

Again the flash is turned up to the ceiling to bounce the light around the room, so you end up with a nice even light!

7. Again practice makes perfect, play with your camera! Change the settings and see what they do. All of them work together, and when you start figuring out if you go from an aperture of 2 to 3 you may need to slow the shutter or turn up the ISO to compensate for that slight loss of light!

 Before: Dark, no light!

Dark, no light

After opening some windows and doors: A little lighter and brighter, and the one is right where I would want to be! 🙂 In the last picture you can see a great bokeh, kind of drowning out the background!

Lighter and Brighter

Drowned Out Background

And lastly, have fun! They are only this age for so long, don’t get to caught up in things being perfect, sometimes it’s the imperfect moments that we remember the most fondly! Thanks for tuning in!

About the Author: Audrey Oliphant is a central Iowa based photographer focusing on newborns, families, seniors and weddings. She has always loved photography, and in 2011 she realized her dream of doing it professionally. Inspired by her own children, Audrey offers affordable images for every milestone in your life. She specializes in natural lighting and her photography is fresh, whimsical and captures the emotion of the moment. Audrey goes above and beyond to make sure that you are comfortable, safe and enjoying the experience. Her images focus on how your child looked at that stage and how you felt at that moment in time. Audrey is a friend to her clients, and loves getting to know each family’s personality and style. She incorporates this into her images. She goes beyond traditional boundaries to create images that will inspire memories that will last a lifetime.

Visit Audrey’s Website and be sure to like Audrey Oliphant Photography on Facebook!

 **Thank You, Audrey for sharing your knowledge with us!!**

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  1. These are such great tips! Some of them seem like they would be no brainers, then we get behind the camra and forget about what we are doing because we are so focused (no pun intended) on getting the photo of our child.

  2. Sabrina Radke says:

    Great tips, I am always forgetting about natural light (duh!), I love the idea of trying to keep little entertained with an activity to sneak photos! And I had no idea about the shade outside, thanks so much for the simple yet so smart ideas!

  3. Alicia Owen says:

    I really need to play around more with my camera. My inlaws are bringing me one of their old ones next week, so I’ve got a lot of learning to do!
    Alicia Owen recently posted…DIY Wednesday: Reusable Sandwich ContainersMy Profile

    • Don’t be scared! You may end up with 100 yucky looking photos while practicing, but if it helps you learn something its totally worth it!!! 🙂

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