How to Take Better Pictures of Kids (+ Dot’s Birth Announcements!)


I’m excited to share with you sweet Dot’s birth announcements today we made with Shutterfly. My phone has been filling up with pictures of her since that’s the camera that I have on me all the time. Sometimes the best images come from those candid moments on a lazy Saturday afternoon when the house is a mess and we’re having a family wrestling match in bed. For most of us, our phones are the best option we have around to document those candid family moments and I thought it might be helpful to collect some tips for doing a better job at it. I asked a few of my photographer friends to share a few tips for us today on photographing kids, with a few specific ideas for using our phones.
shutterfly birth announcements
 See more about the Shutterfly announcement card we picked and lots of great tips for photographing kids after the jump…

Share and celebrate your family update. Shop Shutterfly for personalized cards that are unique, meaningful and that are just the way you want.

 shutterfly birth announcements
I picked Shutterfly’s Confetti Fun announcement. It had a pretty, but simple design and some nice gold foil polka dots on it. Seemed to be appropriate for our Dot! The great thing about Shutterfly is how customizable it is. You can choose from dozens of fonts and can change and remove several elements of the design to your liking. I’m not a designer but I have very strong opinions about design, as many of us do, and so I loved how much control I had over what the end result was. On Shutterfly there are tons of other great options using your photos like canvas prints for the nursery, photobooks, calendars, and other personalized gifts.

shutterfly card

PS: Did you know her full name is Dorothea May? We were debating between Dorothy and Dorothea and when it came down to it I thought Thea might be a fun nickname option at some point, so Dorothea it is.


And here are 11 tips for taking better photos of kids:

Find a window. The easiest way is to have the window side light your child while they play or interact with you. This creates soft, natural light that will immediately help you images look more beautiful and soulful. –Rachel Thurston

Think outside of the boxThrow all of your pre-conceived ideas about taking photos of your child out the window. Be willing to try new things like different angles, points of view, lighting, etc. Remind yourself that a good photo of your child isn’t simply one where they are posed and smiling or perfectly lit, they may be deep in thought or the lighting may not be optimal but it’s all a part of what sets the scene for the photo and ultimately your memories. The most optimal lighting is often found at the start and end of each day. –Jessica Doll

Go for candid. Take unscripted photos. Ones of them running and playing or concentrating on that art project. Candid shots are so much more authentic and images of them doing what they do are the best memories to try and save. -Rachel Thurston

Get sentimental. Photograph the things you love about your kids. The crazy bedhead? Shoot that. The cankles on your baby? Shoot that. Little, sentimental details are important. Plus they are the ones that will make your heart beat faster when you see them. -Rachel Thurston

Practice makes perfect. You can do all of the reading that you’d like, but unless you are out there getting hands-on time with your camera you will not see the results you want. Don’t be afraid to take a class or spend time photographing other subjects as practice if your children are not as patient. Keeping your camera handy during times you know a good photo opportunity might arise is a good habit to get into. The beauty of digital cameras today is that it costs nothing to take a bad photo, but when you hit the mark it is priceless. -Jessica Doll

Let kids be kids. A great way to have your child enjoy having their portrait taken is to involve them in the process. Ask them to grab their favorite shoes, toy or book. Ask them to point to their nose, show their favorite dance move or ask them a series of silly questions or commands. My favorite is to play stern and command, “DO NOT SMILE!” It gets the giggles going every time! –Ashley Thalman

And a few tips specific for using your phone: 

Learn how to expose an image. You can tap on a dark spot and use a slider with your finger to make the overall image lighter. You won’t always be in a good location but this is helpful if you’re ever in need of a little more light. –Ashley Batz

Use a great app. Get an app that has some lightweight editing options. Since your kids will be moving around a lot, you won’t have the most time to capture what you need. I love the VSCO app because I can create straight lines, work out my vertical and horizontal lines, and easily elevate images with their film presets. -Ashley Batz


Don’t over filter! If you want the images you take of your child to stay current for the longest amount of time, resist super unnatural filters that make your color psychedelic or your black and whites really muddy. A bad filter on your smartphone will not save a poorly shot image. -Rachel Thurston 

Embrace movement. Speaking of movement, you can always use the burst mode on your iPhone (is this on android too?) to take multiple photos. This allows you to capture the exact moment, even when your children are in motion. Don’t be afraid of blurriness! Sometimes it adds to the story. -Ashley Batz

Let go of perfection. This is an important one: Documenting your family will not be something you regret. If the choice comes down to not taking the shot because the variables aren’t right (ie: no window light, messy house, dirty clothes..) or taking the shot despite the imperfections to remember the moment, TAKE THE PHOTO. Real life isn’t perfectly curated and doesn’t need to look that way. The best camera you own is the one you have with you. Don’t be afraid to use it when you feel inspired and forget the rules. -Rachel Thurston


 Big thanks to my talented photographer friends Ashley Batz based out of San Francisco, Jessica Doll based out of San Jose, Rachel Thurston based out of LA, and Ashley Thalman based out of Utah for their amazing tips and talent. 

Image of Dot for the birth announcement by Rachel Thurston. Images of Dot and myself by my new fabulous assistant Stephanie Gardner. 


Great tips! I’d add to invest in a lens and not a camera body

Oh these are so sweet, and I agree- my phone is filled with pictures of my kids too 🙂

Comments are closed.