Motherhood Mondays: 5 Tips for Photographing Your Child

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My friend Alyson from Unruly Things posts family photos on Instagram, and every shot she takes of her son Wolf is utterly adorable. Luckily for us, Alyson agreed to share five tips to taking great family photos…

Hi, this is Alyson from Unruly Things. Photography isn’t hard – it’s actually quite simple. And you don’t need a fancy camera. Recently, I’ve been taking all of my photos with my iPhone. It fits in my back pocket, and often I’m taking pictures on the fly so as not to miss a single thing in my son’s life. Here are my five best tips to taking great photos of kids…

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1. Take multiple photos. Kids and babies are notorious for wiggling or sneezing at the last second. When taking photos of my son, I take lots because he’s so busy. Most of the photos turn out blurry but I’ll still end up with a winner. Bonus tip: Sometimes I’ll use the video feature on my iPhone, then take a screen shot from the video!

2. Try really hard NOT to use the flash. The flash creates harsh, fake lighting situations which can be rough on new skin. Try taking photos outside or inside by a bright window. And if you must use the flash, edit the photo to black and white to eliminate harsh lighting.

3. Take pictures from different angles. Don’t be afraid to take a photo of your little one from the side or from behind. You don’t have to see their face in every photo. I’ve caught some of the most precious moments of my son while he’s quietly playing by himself. The photos feel more natural and less posed.

4. Get down on their level. That way, you capture not only what your child’s life looks like but also what it feels like.

5. Take moments from everyday life. Not every photo needs to be styled or look like a professional photo shoot. The most beautiful photos are those that highlight moments in your real life, messy playroom and all! Capture everything, from fingers, toes, cheeks, bellies, ears and chubby legs to first giggles, first foods, hugs with the kitty, clapping, playtime, etc. It’s amazing how life seems to go by in warp speed. Each moment is special, and I want to have plenty of photos to look back on.

P.S. More Motherhood Monday posts, including 8 Confessions of a New Dad and How to Talk to Little Girls

(All photos by Alyson Brown)

  1. my advice would be to take photos of your kids with their parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. i’ve noticed that some people only photograph their kid with no one else, but my favorite photos as a kid are one’s where i’m with other people, not just one’s of me by myself as a baby.

  2. These are great tips (and lovely photos)!

  3. These are great tips for taking pictures of everything, not just kids!

  4. These are great tips for taking pictures of everything, not just kids!

  5. This is great! I can’t wait until my husband can toss her up so I can get a shot like that!

  6. the photo of him sleeping is so precious! so, so sweet.

  7. these are great tips! but also, don’t forget to put the camera down just as often and really absorb, live in, experience the moment! i always forget to do this when i go on a photo-taking spree, but really being present allows you to remember the day with your whole being, which can sometimes be more valuable than being able to look back on it with your eyes :)

  8. Great post! My favorite is, “You don’t have to see their face in every photo.”

  9. My mother who was a photographer for years always managed to get a natural smile by making the baby/toddlers laugh. For example, making animal noises. She can nigh like a horse, meow and bark. She took thousand of photos of my brother and myself, for the most part she got great shots by following the tips listed above as well as making her animal noises!

  10. great tips, i NEVER use the flash, it makes everyone (tiddlers and grown ups) look shiny and a bit ill.

    wish they’d give these tips to the staff on the special care unit where our newborn son recently spent a couple of weeks, our first photo of him was taken by the nurse, he was in an incubator and covered in tubes and wires. she used the flash and the resulting photo is HORRID. sigh. i’ve been taking lots of nice photos in natural light to make up for the bad start…

    in addition i always do a quick edit of my photos in iphoto (you could use any basic photo editing software), i adjust the levels, moving the sliders so that there is a ‘true’ black and white in the image. kinda hard to explain but makes photos look tons better.

  11. Joanna and Alyson – y’all are the greatest! Thanks so much for the quick info. I was hoping that’s what you’d say. It’s on my top-two list. Glad to hear from a real person that it’s a great, quality item :)

    Thanks again! J

  12. hi Julie! the crib is the Gulliver crib from Ikea!! it’s the best, super affordable and sturdy enough for me to sneak in there for early morning snuggles. congrats!

  13. fancy pants & joanna, you must be so excited:) and julie, i’ll ask about the crib…xoxo

  14. Great composition will always trump fancy cameras and effects! I take a million blurry photos of my son just to get those few good ones. Thanks for the great post, as always :)

  15. so cute photos!
    and great tips! I am going to use them in a little bit over a month, after arrival of my baby boy :)

  16. Thanks for sharing your tips. I’m so looking forward to take pictures of my little one… but still 7 weeks to go ;-)

  17. I like the getting down on their level idea. I always use a flash- guess I need to try without:)

  18. Great tips! Can’t wait to put them to use when our first comes in October :) Any idea where her crib is from? I love it!

    Thanks for yet another fantastic post – your blog makes me happy every day! xoxo

  19. Seems like these are good tips for iPhone camera shooting in general–thanks for posting. I know that, realistically, I’ll probably never shoot with anything more than my iPhone camera so it’s handy to know best practices. Funny, I was just watching that new Ashton Kutcher commercial about taking pictures while simultaneously filming and it didn’t occur to me to do this on the iPhone as well! Cool.

  20. Adorable photos and tips! So much better than the days when my parents would take my sister and me to JCPenney to get our photos taken hahaha…

  21. ooh, thanks for the tip, katie — going to check it out xo

  22. kiana, i KNOW! he has the cutest little face!!! and his name is WOLF! :) what a sweetheart.

  23. I don’t know if these pictures are so adorable because of her photography techniques or because her baby is so cute!!!

  24. Such great tips and photos! (And of course it doesn’t hurt that Wolf is, like, the cutest ever!!!)

  25. Aww what a sweet little cutie and the photos are adorable:) Thanks for the tips! xo

  26. Great tips! I’m excited to apply these tips with my little one due in November!

  27. lotta, how funny! and yes, so great meeting you:)

  28. Wonderful tips! That baby is oh so high in the last image! AHH! xoxo A-

  29. Anonymous says...

    These are great tips. I always use a flash, but now I will try turning it off. Can’t wait to go take some pics. These photos are really gorgeous. Cute little boy!

  30. Great advice! I’m off to visit my 1 year old nephew and I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind -because there’s gonna be a ton of photo-taking.

  31. Anonymous says...

    That last photo made me laugh out loud. Such a sweet moment and he is SO HIGH UP! Dads are the best.

  32. h my gosh-loce the lsat photo! great tips!

  33. that last pic is perfect. for whatever reason dads LOVE doing this, but rarely do you ever get a picture of REALLY how high they toss their children :P

  34. Great tips and the photos are SO cute!

    BTW….the little cottage in the posting “Do or Don’t: A house registry” I think is the house I pass by almost every day! It’s one of my favorite. I have photographed if from every angle there is ;)

    It was a great day at Stone Barns and so fun seeing you.

    I love your blog!


  35. I will remember these, thanks for sharing! xo

  36. Darling. My nieces and nephews are my very favorite photography subjects. (:

  37. Great tips and equally great pics! xoxo