Gift Ideas

Expert tips for taking great photos of your little children

©️ Photographer Valerie Sieyes

So, you want a cute family portrait. Or even just a decent photo of your kids, not squabbling, pushing, fighting or sulking. Something you can turn into a gorgeous canvas or use as the cover for a cute calendar or photo book.

It should be simple.

Thankfully, with the now-ubiquitous camera phones in our pockets, the new teeth, haircuts, hobbies and achievements are all well documented. We’re better than ever at freezing time and collecting those all-important memories.

But capturing those magic moments – a joke shared by grandparents and grandkids, a rare tender exchange between siblings – can be a real challenge.

All too often, the photos you take are blurred, badly lit or just feel forced. Kids don’t cooperate. The lighting is wrong. What happened to the sparkle of personality you’d hoped to preserve?

Happily, simple changes to how you take pictures of your family can make a world of difference. We asked some photography professionals for their expert tips.

1. Go low

The number one tip from our photography experts is to photograph children on their level.

“Get down low,” says Valerie Sieyes, portrait photographer and founder of Fotobuzz.

“The first rule with photographing kids is to get the camera down to their eye level, or even below.

“Get in close, and focus on their eyes. It avoids distortion.”

We’ve all found ourselves deleting images of our kids’ big heads with disproportionately small bodies from our smart phones’ photo albums. Get down to their level, bend your knees, even lie on your stomach, and watch your photos spring to life.

2. Don’t say cheese!

“The best portraits are natural and spontaneous,” adds Valerie. “Don’t ask your child to smile, or even look at the camera.” Let’s face it, any kids over the age of about three will produce those awkward ‘cheesy’ rictus grins when asked anyway.

“Let them be themselves; try to capture kids as they are, not with a fake or forced smile or pose.

“Kids’ expressions when they’re thinking, playing or giggling can be just wonderful. Try to capture your children when they’re occupied, or when they’re just busy.”

3. Shoot the everyday

©️ Helen Schryver

“Don’t save the camera for when you’re having a day out, or are on holiday. Shoot the everyday,” recommends Helen Schryver of Schryver Photo.

“The morning rituals and bedtime routines, the messy tea-times, dog walks and sofa snuggles. Everything with kids is ‘just a phase’ – you won’t be holding your child’s hand on the way to school in the morning forever. And these are the moments that make your family, and this time in your lives, unique.”

4. Don’t skimp on the details – however scruffy!

©️ Helen Schryver

“Forget sprucing up for family shots, and capture your kids at their scruffiest,” adds Helen.

“Embrace the realness of your family, just as you are. Your child’s hand clasped around a beloved teddy bear, your newborn’s teeny feet or a pair of freshly-muddied wellies all contribute as much to your family’s story as a posed portrait.”

5. Make it fun

©️ Victoria Clark

You might be wondering how to get your kids to sit still for a posed family portrait.

The answer could be: you don’t!

Victoria from Victoria Clark Photography explains, “The perfect, posed shot isn’t always ideal.

“When working with smalls, I find they don’t like to be told how to sit, where to stand or when to smile! (Unless you want some grumpy faces in your portrait!)

“Instead, make it fun. As the person behind the camera, you might need to act silly to create and catch those natural smiles and giggles.

“Get some help behind the camera from a friend or another family member if you can. This can help keep little ones focused on the camera, so you don’t get multiple little faces all looking in different directions.”

6. Go outside

©️ Victoria Clark

Victoria says, “Embrace the great outdoors. If you want some fab photos, it’s worth all the time it takes to get your family outside. The natural light allows you to stay away from using your harsh flash, and will add a lovely soft glow to faces and help colours pop.

“If you have to stay inside, find your biggest windows and work with natural light that way; the more light the better.”

7. Top of the props!

©️ Victoria Clark

Finally, if all else fails, try a few funky props. Victoria says, “Silly costumes, hats, accessories or props can help your kids stay interested for much longer. So you have more time to secure that perfect, picture-book shot.

“Most importantly, they can be really cute!”

Could this cheeky chap ‘bee’ any sweeter? And this shot would be the bee’s knees on a bespoke cushion cover. Buzzz!

Zoe Craig
Zoe Craig is a freelance journalist and mum-of-two, juggling writing about arts, culture, parenting and lifestyle while enjoying time with her kids.