How to Photograph Kids – 8 Tips for Great Family Photos

15 Apr 2022

DIY Family Photography Ideas

Whether it’s holiday season, or you just love photographs, taking regular time out for  a DIY family photoshoot helps you capture your kids as they grow up. I know I’m bias, but it’s definitely worth putting a little more time and effort into this than simply snapping a quick photo on your phone every now and then.

Photography can be a great way to practice your own creativity, as well as getting those all important recent family pictures so I thought I’d share some of my favourite tips on how to photograph kids.

Whether you’re struggling to get your toddler to stay still for even a second or coax your teenager in front of the camera, I’ve compiled some of my favourite tips and tricks below to help you take some great family photos of your kids.


1. Choose your time wisely

As a parent, you’ll be aware of the ways your child’s mood and energy levels can fluctuate throughout the day. The best time to photograph your child might be after nap time or a snack, especially if they’re still little. 

When you’re dedicating some time and effort to capturing photos of your children, it’s best to limit your photo “session” to under an hour so that they don’t get bored to tears. This way, they’re likelier to be willing to play along with your family photography sessions in the future, too.

As professional photographers we’re always alert to the fine line between getting the photographs and the kids still having fun. It’s a real skill – especially with multiple kids of different ages. The phrase ‘less is more’ is one we use in our house and I think this applies to photographs too – better to get a few great ones and call it a day rather than over-snapping and getting everyone (yourself included) cranky.

2. Get on their level

This is a really quick and easy way to take your photos to the next level. Getting on your child’s level physically helps give the photos a sense of seeing the world through their eyes. 

This might mean that you sit on the floor, or even sometimes lie down, but trust me – it’ll result in more natural pictures of your little people.


3. Go candid

While it might be nice to have some ideas for the types of pictures you’d like to capture, realistically, I’d say you can count on having to throw out this list at some point during your photo session.

Kids have short attention spans and it can be hard to get them to focus on “posing” for very long. 

Letting them play with their favourite toys or each other, or sneak some pictures of your older kids doing their homework at the kitchen table to make the process more fun for them. It can also help you capture your kid’s personality when they are less camera conscious.

4. Play with them

One of the challenges in photographing children – and really, people of any age – is to get them to act natural in front of the camera. Going with the flow and focusing on candid opportunities can help with this tremendously. And one of the best ways to do this is to embrace your inner kid, too.

So join them on the floor for a tea party, get out the train set, or play dress-up together. Bust out some of their favourite tunes and sing and dance around. All while snapping pictures on the fly.


5. Get them chatting

Especially for kids who aren’t super keen on being in front of the camera, you can get them to relax a bit with some relaxed chats. This could be simply sharing funny stories or asking them about something they’re very interested in. 

This can help kids get a bit animated as they discuss their favourite Disney princess, weekend plans, or favourite flavour of ice cream. Keep snapping pictures throughout your chats to get that great candid feel to your pictures. This tip works well with people of all ages, by the way.

6. Don’t force them to smile

If there’s one word that’ll make pro photographers and the camera-shy alike cringe, it’s the infamous “Cheese!”. Especially with kids, you really can’t make a natural smile happen with force – so if they don’t feel like smiling, so be it.

While the tricks I’ve highlighted can get kids to relax and give genuine smiles, if it’s not happening, don’t sweat it too much. In fact, I think some of the most beautiful and moving pictures of children are ones where the child isn’t smiling.


7. Get creative

Play around with angles and perspectives for unique shots. Try positioning the camera right on the floor or take a picture from up above while your little one is cuddling their favourite cuddly toy on the bed. You can also play around with what’s in the foreground and background as well as what to focus your lens on. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit.


8. Opt for professional family photography

Don’t get me wrong – I love DIY photography. It’s a great way for your artistic outlet and lets you capture precious memories with your little ones in their natural habitat as they grow up. 

But as a mum, I also appreciate just how tiring being a parent can be, and if you’re not interested in taking up a new hobby or don’t have time for one, going the pro route could be the right option for you. It can also work out quite a bit cheaper than buying a camera and maybe some photo editing software that you may or may not use in a year’s time.

And while you can get creative and take some great family portraits of you all with the aid of the timer on your camera or a remote for the shutter, a professional photographer is your best bet for capturing high-quality, timeless pictures of the whole clan.

As a professional family photographer, my job is to get to know you and your kids in order to capture everyone’s personalities and to make the whole process a great one for everyone. So if you’re looking for a family photographer in Edinburgh, why not check out our family photography offering?


Alie xx