8 Tips for Photographing Kids

I am not a photographer. Let me repeat, I am not a photographer. But I do take hundreds, often thousands of photographs each week and have for several years now. Most of the photos I take are of my children and the activities we are doing. I have used all manner of point and shoot cameras, and over the past two years, have owned 3 different Nikon DSLR cameras and a variety of lenses. What a difference an SLR camera makes, and a good lens is just priceless!

One of my ongoing personal goals is to take better photos, and I have come a long ways since I first started! While I have had no formal training and most camera jargon still sounds like a foreign language to me, I want to share with you some of the simple things I have learned over the years for those of you who are also trying to take better photos, especially of your kids, because these photos are really priceless. So, while real photographers may laugh at my list, I am going to share with you my very, very amateur tips for photographing kids.  I hope these tips will help the average parent out there who is doing their best to preserve some precious memories that they can keep forever, to branch out and try some new things.

tips for photographing kids

The photos I’m sharing today are of a recent walk at a local park our family took. The park is Historic Yates Mill County Park in Raleigh, NC, and it is just BEAUTIFUL! The kids’ are wearing clothing from Nuvonivo, a local company with an online store that ships FREE to the entire US, Puerto Rico, and all US territories. We were asked to review the clothing, which I did in this post on In Lieu of Preschool, and after receiving the clothes, I realized the outfits were PERFECT for an outdoor photo shoot. So we picked a warm, sunny weekend afternoon and headed to the park. The kids walked, ran, climbed, and played in their new clothing, and I just happened to take a few hundred photos. Win-win! :)

Tips for Photographing Kids

1. If at all possible, use a DSLR camera and a lens that works in low light.

tips for photographing kids

I have owned a variety of cameras and lenses over the past two years. Even if you don’t know what you are doing with an DSLR camera, you will find yourself “getting lucky” with photos now and then. Those photos will knock your socks off. Seriously.

tips for photographing kids

I know DSLR cameras are expensive; my first one was borrowed, my second one was about the cheapest, quality DSLR you can get, and the one I have now was a splurge.  The two lenses I have now are this one and this one. We justify the expense by using the camera literally every day and we almost never pay for portraits at a studio. Instead, we do our own little photo shoots like this one.  All of these photos are taken with the 35mm lens.

Here’s a photo from a different walk taken with the 18-200mm lens:

tips for photographing kids

2. Play with light.

tips for photographing kids

Turn off the flash and use natural lighting as much as you can. When indoors, try to position your child near a window. Position yourself between the window and child and you will capture the light on your child’s face.

tips for photographing kids

If outdoors, try shooting from all different angles to see which ones work best. My favorites tend to be with the sun not in front of or behind the camera, but rather to the side. Textures are picked up better this way and you can get interesting light and shadow patterns which add to the photo.

3. Use the Rule of Thirds.

tips for photographing kids

Ok, so a camera guru friend clued me in to this one. I still don’t always get it right, but I love the idea behind it and it helps remind me to not always center every picture…

tips for photographing kids

…but to think about the composition of the whole piece.

4. Look for interesting colors and textures.

tips for photographing kids

When outside, look for walls, plants, water, buildings…

tips for photographing kids

…anything that will add to the composition of your photo.

5. Don’t be afraid to click.

tips for photographing kids

Take lots of photos. It might take 100 shots to get just one that’s great. That’s ok!

tips for photographing kids

I often take hundreds and sometimes over a thousand photos just to get a handful of really good shots. The kids are constantly moving. Their expressions are constantly changing. If I only take a handful of shots, I know I’d hardly ever get the good stuff.

tips for photographing kids

If I take a bunch, I’m almost always guaranteed at least a few that are awesome.

6. Go with the Flow.

tips for photographing kids

I find that the less I pose the kids, the more I like the results.

tips for photographing kids

It makes it harder to catch them just being cute without telling them which way to stand and where to look and when to smile, but capturing a genuine smile is almost always better than a “Say Cheese!” one!

7. Pick a relaxed setting.

tips for photographing kids

Do an activity your child enjoys. Go to the playground. Take a nature walk. Visit a park. Walk through a garden. Play a sport.

tips for photographing kids

If your child is doing something he likes, he’s much more likely to act natural and smile more. That equals better photos.

tips for photographing kids

Plus you’ll have a chance to capture some of their personality and their interests in your shots, making for better keepsakes anyway.

8. Pick comfortable clothing that reflects your child’s personality.

tips for photographing kids

If your child likes what they’re wearing and it’s comfortable, they’ll feel better about themselves.

tips for photographing kids

For girls, dresses or flowy shirts look great in photographs.

tips for photographing kids

I absolutely LOVED the shirt from Nuvonivo that Lilah wore in these pictures. It was PERFECT for capturing her personality and her movement.

One Final Tip to Remember when Photographing Children

These photos are for YOU! So what if one is a little blurry? Who cares if the lighting would have been better from another angle? The point is these are KEEPSAKES that you can enjoy days, weeks, years from now and regardless if the photos aren’t perfect, they will still be special to you and your family. Think you didn’t get any good shots? Wait a day, or a week and look again. Sometimes those “no good” shots look a lot better with a new day’s perspective. :)

You can see more photos from our park walk “photo shoot” and a full review of the Nuvonivo clothing the kids are wearing in the photos on In Lieu of Preschool.

You can also use coupon code 5off25 to save $5 off a $25 purchase from Nuvonivo if you find something there you like! 

Do you have any good tips for photographing kids?


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