Capturing Your Child’s Personality – A Guest Post

This weekend, in honor of all the cameras clicking away at the Memorial Day festivities, we have a fabulous guest post on photography. I just recently met Stephanie and started reading her informative blog, i speak film. I love it and I am sure you will as well.

Stephanie is a stay at home mom and her digital photography blog/website caters to beginning and
intermediate photographers. Her articles cover the basics, such as composition, lighting, point-and-shoot tricks and of course, taking pictures of your kids.

As an avid amateur photographer, I love reading her helpful tips and tricks! If you are looking to improve your photography, or just love to read photography blogs, you must check out i speak film.

Today, Stephanie writes an original article for us about photographing your children. In the comment section, feel free to ask Stephanie about any other photography topics you might like her to cover for us in the future. She is a fantastic resource and we are looking forward to having her back here at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Capturing Your Child’s Personality
By Stephanie Simpson of i speak film

Pictures of your baby are wonderful no matter how great a photographer you are. Sometimes, though, the pictures can start to look really similar. We tend to stand in the same position, use the same lens, or frame the shot the same way every time. You might not even be able to tell if this is a shot of your first baby or your second!

Other times, the minute we take out the camera, baby turns off that cute expression, resulting in shots that look kind of blah. Here are some easy ways to capture those great smiles and the unique personalities of your children.

guestpost-capturing-1.jpgMy all-time favorite way to shoot babies is to get down on the floor with them and take lots of shots without looking through the camera or at the view screen. Not look at the view screen, you say? But what if I just get shots of their ear? I know, it sounds nuts, but this is how the magic happens. With a little practice, you can estimate what the shot will look like without ever looking through the viewfinder.

Why would you want to do such a thing? There are two reasons. First, you will be able to maintain eye contact with your child. Babies respond to eye contact and Mommy’s smiles more than anything else, so if you’re busy looking through the camera, baby loses interest and stops smiling. Maintaining that eye contact while giving baby big smiles or silly faces will help to bring out their personalities.

The second reason not to look through the viewfinder is that you will get spontaneous images that are quite unique. Most of us tend to frame our pictures with the subject’s head in the dead center of frame. As parents, we tend to shoot down on our kids from a standing position, making the kids seem small and insignificant. Getting down on the floor with baby will show us their world from their perspective, and it’s a much more interesting place than the floor as seen from the couch or standing by the door.

So, here’s how you do it:

  1. Get on the floor with baby and some favorite toys
  2. Choose a sunny spot so you don’t have to use the flash.
  3. Sit or lie down right in front of your child so the camera is only about 2 feet away from baby.
  4. Start with a wide lens (usually the lens you have when you first turn on your compact camera.)
  5. Now just have fun while you take lots of shots. Try to keep eye contact with your baby while you shoot. Peek-a-boo is always a good choice for play or the silly faces game.
  6. Tilt the camera up a bit then down, right a bit then left. Check the shots periodically so you can see if you’re remotely hitting the mark. Once you get confident, try zooming in some more.

The trick is to take a LOT of shots. Digital cameras allow us to do this with no additional expense. I take as many as 100 shots during a play session (without the flash, cause this would definitely result in some cranky faces). Download your pictures soon after your picture session so you can learn from your experience and what worked and didn’t work.

Now here comes the hard part – picking the great shots and chucking the rest! Here’s a three-stage process that I’ve always found helpful:

  1. Delete the shots that are unattractively framed or blurry.
  2. Go through the shots a second time, this time deleting all the shots that are blah looking. Sometimes you’ll have shots that look quite similar to one another. View one then the next and delete the shot that isn’t as cute.
  3. This is the hard one. On a third pass through the pictures, ask yourself this question: “Do I want a print of this shot in the photo album?” Generally, there are one or two shots that stand out as the winners. For me, it’s usually the shots that make me spontaneously smile when I see them.

Don’t be discouragedguestpost-capturing-3.jpg if you end up throwing away 98% of the shots you just took, because a really successful photo session may result in a single treasured photograph that gets blown up, framed and placed on your wall for 30 years. When all is said and done, we want images that help us to remember what their cheeks looked like at that age, or the nibbliness of their toes or the goofiness of their smile. The great thing about this technique, is that we never lose contact with our babies in the name of a great photograph. We get the best of both worlds. Happy shooting!

For more easy photography tips, visit Stephanie’s website at


  1. says

    Here is a question for you! With a very active toddler sometimes before I can snap the pic she is on the run so I get the back of her head or side of her face. What is a good trick for getting better pics. I guess I could use the mode that takes 4 pics in a row and see if I get any better ones that way, huh. Any suggestions would be great!

  2. says

    This is a really great post! I’d love to be able to take great photographs (really, I’m awful at the moment!) and your hints have really given me something to start with!

    Hope this can work for older kids too (mine are 2 and 10) as I’d love to finally get some great shots of them on my blog!

  3. says

    I love this article and am so excited for future articles. Lately I have been wanting to improve my photography, but not exactly sure where to start. This will give me some tips! Woohoo!

  4. says

    I have such a hard time deleting photos that I probably won’t print. I always feel like “you just don’t know if you’d want them later”.

  5. says

    Nice tips. We definitely need to practice on assuming the right position without looking at the camera’s viewfinder.
    Printing it would be great, but some pictures don’t look nice after viewing it many time.

  6. says

    Hey Candace,

    It’s such a challenge to capture a fast-moving kiddo! Part of the problem is the shutter delay in many compact cameras. If you’re ever in the market for a new camera, definitely choose one with a superfast shutter response time.

    But barring buying a new camera (yikes!), your 4-shot idea is a good one. Shooting in brighter light will also help by giving you greater depth of field (more of the shot will be in focus). So open the curtains or go outside to shoot.

    The best solution is to take lots and lots and lots of pictures. Eventually, you will have a wonderful shot that is actually in focus. Digital is cheap, so shoot like mad!

  7. says

    Great tips. I’m not really into photography. But with this tips, I think it’s worth a try. We can’t afford to miss those moment. And it would even be wonderful if it’s taken perfectly.

  8. says

    Wow, that’s fascinating and adorable in the true use of art of photography which made this blog very special.I am an aspiring photographer who is so in love with your work. I just want to know some of the basic pre-requisites to become an excellent photographer. I would love to hear from you.

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