Take Better Photos of Your Kids – 12 Tips from Professional Photographers

I recently posted about the drama that unfolded behind the scenes of our most recent family photo shoot.  I asked some photographer friends what I could have done to make it less of a disaster as well as how I could get some better pictures of my kids in daily life. They gave me these 12 tips for taking better photos of kids…

12 tips photo

Emily Bridgeman

Emily Proulx in Mesa, AZ

Tip #1 – Go for the posed picture first then move right into the fun. Have genuine interaction with your child. BE with them, make them feel comfortable, and figure out what grabs their attention. Then when it comes time to get THE shot, your little guy has forgotten how much he doesn’t like taking pictures. Remember it only takes ONE picture!

Tip #2 – A “say Cheese” smile is not real and does not reach the eyes of the child. If all else fails try the “whatever you do… DON”T smile” tactic.  That gets them every time!

Sarah Frechette

Sarah Frechette in Helsinki, Finland

Tip #3 – Bribe them.  Raisins, M&M’s, whatever it takes.  Ice cream is also awesome. It keeps kids happy and is adorable to photograph.

Tip #4 – No matter what- NO MATTER WHAT- parents are in a good mood. A photo can be salvaged if parents are smiling in a photo where kids are melting down. It becomes a funny memory- maybe your favorite photo of the bunch. Parents set the tone. If parents get irritated, kids pick up on that, and it’s pretty much over.

Miah Oren

Miah Oren in Dallas, TX

Tip #5 – Kids don’t always know how to smile on command. Often children are trying hard to please their parents, but the situation is overwhelming. Having a beautiful photograph of themselves does not rank high in importance for kids.

Tip #6 – Be flexible with your vision for the photos. That precious genuine smile from your child will look more beautiful than a scared face, even if the lighting is bad or the location isn’t pinterest-perfect.

Emily Johnston

Emily Johnston in Mesa, AZ

Tip #7 – Lower your expectations. Sometimes photographing a child can feel like trying to catch a fly with chopsticks.  Accept the season of life you are in, 1 year olds drool, 2 year olds scream NO and 3 years and older move 100mph in a 100 foot radius. Embrace the unique blessings that come with this season.

Tip #8 – Lower yourself. Get down on your knees. Some of my favorite shots were taken while lying on my stomach. Enter their world and capture them in their perspective.

Amanda Mills 250x250

Amanda Mills in Orcutt, CA

Tip #9 – Let them be themselves. Some of the best photos are the ones where kids are just being kids and the photographer catches them as their little personalities convey.

Tip #10 – Photograph the good, the bad, and the ugly. Priceless memories don’t always have to be the perfectly lit, excellent angle, right clothes shots.  It’s about memories.


Aaron Wheeler

Aaron Wheeler in Beijing, China

Tip #11 – Lighting is key.  Take outdoor pictures at sunrise and sunset.  When inside, remember that windows are your friends. Try to use a north-facing window during mid-day.

Avoid using your flash whenever possible as it is the most unflattering light source available and should only be wielded when trying to blackmail someone. Don’t be lazy. If there’s not enough light where you’re standing, move somewhere else.

Tip #12 – Whatever isn’t adding to your photo is taking away from it. Every stray toy or wall hanging draws the attention away from the person or people that you want everyone to focus on. The problem is that what’s good for photography isn’t good for decorating, and so few of us have an open space with bare walls in our homes.

If you don’t have an empty area in your home, make one (preferably near a window.) If all else fails, remember that the least decorated spaces are the floors and the ceiling. Get creative and make them work for you.


I would love to hear how these tips helped you… Come back and tell us how it went. Do you have any other tricks you use for great pictures of kids?

For more tips and resources, check out our Photography Section and our PicMonkey Resource Page.

Written by Emily Thomas – Believer. Writer. Encourager. Humorist. Emily writes about what happened today and what she learned from it at http://www.emilythomaswrites.com



  1. says

    This is an excellent article, and very helpful! I especially loved #12, last night we were having a birthday celebration and I put this into practice, I couldn’t necessarily move the subjects around to avoid extra distractions, but found I could move myself around and I took pictures from different angles. Thanks so much for the advice!

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