How to take better photos of your kids (even with your phone)

Get down to their level

Don’t photograph the kids from above, rather get down to their level. This simple tip will instantly improve the photos of your children. Getting down to a kid's level helps bring the viewer into their world and allows them to see things from the child's point of view.

Don't tell them to smile, make them smile naturally

Throw your dignity out of the window, and do whatever it takes to make them laugh naturally. You'll appreciate the effort later on when looking through the photos. Natural smile or laughter looks much better than a cheesy one. 😄

Pay attention to the background

Avoid cluttered backgrounds. They may be quite distracting and take attention away from the subject. The photo is about your kids after all, not about that colorful wall behind them. Rather choose neutral non-distractive one. Uniform colors or patterns make a great background.

Follow composition rules

There are a lot of composition rules that may make your photos look much better balanced and pleasing to the eye. For the sake of simplicity, I'll break it down to one piece of advice when photographing your children. Experiment with placing your child off-center in the frame. If you want to get more specific I'd suggest using one of the most popular rules of composition. Rule of thirds. Just position your child in the frame so that his/her face was on one of the imaginary lines dividing your frame into 3. #️⃣

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Look for the light

Don’t shoot in harsh sunlight. If you are shooting in the middle of a sunny day, look for open shade. Usually shooting in the last 30 minutes before sunset, when the light is very soft and warm, gives the best results. When shooting in dappled light try to turn your kids so that the sun was behind them. This way the light on your subjects will be more even and you avoid the spots of light on their faces.

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Adjust the exposure

Don’t shoot in auto mode! The auto mode might work fine in the perfect lighting conditions, but more often then not when shooting in auto mode you end up getting your photos either too dark or too bright. Adjusting your exposure manually will make your photos look much better. To do it on your phone first tap on the screen to set the focus, and when the yellow square appears just drag your finger up or down. 

Use Portrait mode on your phone

Now you can get a nice blurred background without using expensive professional lenses. Just switch the camera to Portrait mode. You can even adjust the F-stop (amount of blurriness) later on the Edit screen. Also when editing the photos shot in Portrait mode you can simulate a different type of lighting.

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photo is taken and edited with the native Camera app on iPhone in the Portrait mode

Use Burst mode

For action shots, it's best to use Burst mode. Just keep holding your finger on the shutter button while kids are doing their thing. You can review all the shots later and pick the ones that worked.

Take a lot of photos

Kids are always on the move, and the most likely you'll find yourself having a pretty hard time capturing that "perfect" moment. But nowadays you are no longer restricted by 36 frames available in the film roll. So take advantage of your digital camera and take tons of photos. You can always go over them later on and select the keepers.

Edit your photos

Just by dragging a couple of sliders you can improve the contrast and colors of your photos, as well as fix some minor exposure mistakes. I prefer using fully-featured apps, such as Adobe Lightroom, but I must admit that they may look a little intimidating at first and take a bit of learning curve. So if you don't want to devote some time to learning the tool you can just use a pre-installed Photos app on your iPhone or Android. Besides in the Photos app, you can make adjustments specific to Portrait mode, such as type of lighting and the amount of background blur.

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