10 Tips for better photos of your kids

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I’ve got another photography contributor today, Jessica on the East Coast. I met her a few years ago at a mentoring session, and I photographed her kids in Philadelphia, and we’ve become friends ever since. She has done amazing things with her photography, and I thought it’d be great for my readers to hear from someone who has just begun on her photography journey. Here she is!

Hi. My name is Jessica and I am a proud mom of three crazy kids and one loveable miniature poodle. I adore the ocean, Billy Joel and all things chocolate. I work full time as a facility manager but my passion and creative outlet is photography. I have been shooting on a part time basis for about two years and look forward to every session. It’s my icing on the (chocolate) cake!

Jessica Parrish

Currently I take on a few sessions per month and of course shoot lots of photos of my kids and their friends. I also love to gift sessions to worthwhile causes. I am mostly self-taught but I have learned a lot through local photographer friends, Kristen Duke’s books and online resources like You Tube and photography blogs. I currently edit 100% in Adobe Lightroom.  I shoot in natural light with a Nikon d700 and a 50mm 1.4 prime lens. My favorite subjects are newborns, high school seniors and families.

10 tips to photograph children

Ten Tips for better photos of your kids:

 1-      Invest in a better camera.  I know that seems obvious but if your kids are on the move (as most kids are) a digital SLR camera will be your new best friend.  Point and shoot cameras and iPhones are limited in what they can capture.  Even a lower end digital SLR will have you shooting like a pro in no time!  Your pictures will improve vastly, especially any photo with movement.

2-      Capture them in their environment.  Some of my favorite pictures of my kids are of them just doing their thing while I observe and snap away.  Sometimes you get a soft, sweet face other times a crazy expression.  Either way I love the realness of those pictures.

photograph kids in their environment

3-      Let them play.  Along the same lines, photograph them while they play or set up an activity they enjoy (tea party, bubbles, Legos). Photographing kids at play will really show their true personality and yield very natural images.

kids play photos

4-      Don’t have them say “cheese.”  Ever.   Saying “cheese” leads to forced smiles and wouldn’t you so rather a natural one?  Talk to them, have them make a funny face, sing a song together or do something silly to make them laugh.  The results will be more authentic, more them.

5-      Take pictures from above.  I super- love photographing kids from above.  The angle is pretty cool but it’s the light in a child’s eyes that sells me on this perspective.   Even if you photograph in shade looking up towards the sky will give a beautiful twinkle in the eyes.

photos from above

6-      Get on their level.  OK, I know I just said to take pictures from above but not all the time.  I love lying on the ground and being on the same level as my kids.  Especially when photographing a baby or toddler.  They are on the ground a lot so you need to get down there with them and photograph on their level.

take photos on kids level

7-      Avoid full bright sun.  People naturally think “it’s a beautiful sunny day, great day for pictures.”  While that is partially true, shooting in full sun can be tricky.  Funky shadows and squinting eyes are two of the icky results of shooting in full sun.  Instead try a shaded area on a sunny day that is close to the line of the sun.  This is called open shade and is a great place to take pictures.

8-      Use window light.  Window light is so soft and beautiful.  Place your kiddo near a window, turn off your flash, increase your ISO and shoot away.  You really can’t go wrong with window light.

window light

9-      Offer a treat.  If you have a special reason you need posed pictures (think holiday card) I never met a kid who wouldn’t give me a few minutes of good behavior for an ice cream cone or lollypop!

10-   Let kids be themselves.  One day I wanted to take my kids out to practice posing and my photography.  I was a bit of a diva that day and my kids weren’t doing what I *thought* I wanted them to.  Finally I just let them pick how they wanted to sit.  They were comfortable and relaxed and the picture came out perfect.  It was them and I loved it.  Lesson I learned- let your kids have the freedom to be themselves.  After all, isn’t that the reason we love them so?

photographying children

I love to answer questions for those just starting out in the business or parents who just want to take better pictures of their kiddosJessica can be found on her wesbite or Facebook



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  1. Great tips! My favorite is let them play…those have always been my best pics of my own kids, when I just try to capture them doing what they enjoy the most. But I may try the treat route for those times when I really need the semi-posed shot! 🙂

  2. I enjoyed reading your tips, Jessica. I have two “on-the-move” 9 and 6 year olds, and I will keep your suggestions in mind this weekend. ; ) Wish me luck. Thanks for sharing. Your children are beautiful.

    • 9 and 6- wow, you must be busy. Glad you enjoyed the tips and thaks so much for reading and leaving me feedback. Thanks also for the kind words about my kids. I’d love to see the pictures you take this weekend of your little loves. Send me a link. You can find me on Facebook at Jessica Parrish Photography 🙂 Good luck Tracy!

  3. Thanks for the great tips, Jessica! I have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old and neither is terribly cooperative when I take my camera out. I’m going to try some of these very soon!

    • Hi Megan! Thanks for checking out my post. Yep, two and four year olds can be tricky to photograph but its great that you keep trying. My first two kids were 13 months apart so I totally commiserate. :). I have a treasure box I use at my sessions and the kids get to pick a little present when the session is over. The wonder of whats in the treasure box always gets the kiddos to cooperate. Maybe try that? Good luck!

  4. Anfiska Pritchard says:

    These photos are amazing! Thank you very much! Just remembered: “I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.”
    E. M. Forster

    • Jessica Parrish says:

      Thank you so much Anfiska. Happy to share them and the tips. Hope they help. Very well said quote. We all share commonalities and love for our children is the first!

  5. These kids are all beautiful!

  6. These are great tips! I’ve also found that http://www.mkwcreative.com is a great source for advice.

  7. These are fantastic! 🙂 I’m going to a friend’s house today to do a shoot with her sweet kiddos, but I’m a little nervous because it’s my first ever shoot! These tips helped take the edge off. Thanks! 🙂

  8. Great tips! Thanks for sharing! Pinned!

  9. Great tips and photos. These suggestions are spot on. I like to just let them do their thing and go from there. Always turns into fantastic shots. Thanks a ton!