16 Jul 10 Things You’re Doing Wrong When You Photograph Your Kids
There are a handful of common mistakes we all make when trying to capture those ‘nice’ shots for Nanna, so we’ve assembled our top 10 list of what you’re doing wrong, with simple tips to help you improve your family photography.
Aiming for that perfect shot of your newborn or having all your kids smiling and looking at the camera at the same time can be nearly impossible.
So we have put together a handful of common mistakes we all make when trying to capture those perfect shots.
1. Shooting From Above
This is the easiest way to improve photos of your kids: instead of shooting down on top of their heads from adult height, get down on the floor so you’re photographing at their eye level. This will produce a much more engaging photo, and allow you to capture more of their face and expressions in the image.
2. Rushing It
If you’re taking the photo for a special occasion, it’s important to take the time to get everything ready before you sit your kids down for the photo. Set up a blanket on the grass or pick a nice shady area and take a practice shot to ensure your camera settings are correct. Clear the area of clutter so there are no old socks or toys lying in the background, which will detract from the shot. If you try and do all this after your kids are in place, you’ll miss your small window of their attention and they’ll be cranky and over it before you begin.
3. Shooting In The Midday Sun
As photographers the first thing we learn about is light. Beautiful lighting can make or break a photo, but the midday sun is not a great time to shoot. Harsh light beaming down on top of your subjects heads will create shadows on their face, and cause them to squint.
Dawn and dusk are a great time of the day to photograph as it provides a much softer light. I often set up photo shoots in the early evening and use those soft rays to bathe my subjects in beautiful soft peachy light. If that doesn’t fit with your schedule, find a nice pocket of open shade, such as under a tree or patio, but avoid patchy shade as this will throw spot lights throughout the photo.
4. Leaving Them Empty Handed
Having trouble keeping the kids where you want them? Keep them amused with props such as a pretty little tea set, blocks, flowers, drawing pictures, or use some of their favourite toys.
5. Expecting Tired And Hungry Kids To Smile
Sleep-deprived, hungry or not-quite-100-per-cent-healthy children who would rather be anywhere else than in a photo are very good reasons to wait for another day. If you create one bad experience by pressuring them with the camera, it’s unlikely they’ll be keen to join in again. Pick your timing to best suit your kids and know when to call it a day if they’re not feeling great.
6. Being Too Serious
If you’re already stressed at the thought of taking photos, it’s unlikely you’ll capture the relaxed images and natural smiles you’re after. Kids are very intuitive, and they’ll pick up the vibe. Be calm, be organised and be quick.
While you certainly don’t want to look ‘matchy matchy’, it really does help to get your kids dressed in similar tones and colours so your images tie together nicely. Try and avoid busy patterns or clashing tones.
8. Pleading For “Cheese”
A popular misconception is that saying “cheese” will create the perfect smile. Natural laughter always wins. I tell my six and seven year old not to laugh, which often makes them laugh. I also count to three and get them to tickle each other. The anticipation leading up to the tickle after you’ve counted a couple of times makes them giggle and you can get some great natural-laughter shots doing this or anything else that you know makes your kids laugh.
9. Not Getting Them Ready
My kids often suffer from ‘scruffyitis’ by the end of the day, which is great, however if I’m taking the time for a nice photo it’s worth having their little faces washed and their hair out of their eyes. There’s nothing worse than a beautiful beaming smile paired with a snotty green nose.
10. Thinking Bribery Is Bad
You have to do what you have to do. We’re all for bribery in this house, and I’m not ashamed to admit some lollies or their favourite film waiting for them as soon as they’ve spent a couple of minutes with mum taking their photo is a tactic used…so much so, that my kids will now bargain me for photos. I happily indulge and it turns out to be a win-win.
Having just a few simple tricks up your sleeve will make it so much easier to document your little ones as they grow up, ensuring they have keepsakes of their childhood that they, and you, will cherish forever.
Louise Glendon is an entrepreneur, professional photographer and mum to her two girls aged six and seven. She teaches photography online through her website, Click Love Grow. Visit the site for more information on how to take great shots of your kids go to and check out her photography courses.
Words by Louise Glendon