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8 Tips for Taking the Best Photos of Your Kids

8 Tips for Taking the Best Photos of Your Kids

Sarah Merians provides 8 expert tips for taking fun and spontaneous photos of your kids.

We always have a camera in our hands these days, which makes it super easy to snap social media-destined pics of our kids when they’re doing something cute, funny, or outrageous. But what about when you want to take professional-looking photos to share with Grandma and Grandpa, print for your gallery wall, or add to your photo album? Sarah Merians is CEO and founder of Sarah Merians Photography & Video Company, an NYC-based boutique photography studio that specializes in wedding, mitzvah, child, and family photography. Here, she shares eight tips to help you take better photos of your children. You can make photoshoots spontaneous and fun, play tricks with lighting, capture candids—but the main goal is for both you and your kids to have fun!


Rule one: Make photoshoots fun for your kids

There’s nothing better than capturing your child’s genuine smile or catching him mid-laugh full of personality. So, Merians recommends making the experience more playful and less like a posed, portrait experience. Tickle your child, have her dance or jump to get the sillies flowing, play peekaboo, make silly noises (we guarantee fart sounds will unleash the giggles!), and tell jokes.


Avoid taking photos in the middle of the day outside.

Digital cameras and smartphones are really sensitive to light, so taking photos in low-light situations (either earlier or later in the day) is better than at high noon or in broad light.


Keep the light on the your kids' faces.

“I’m forever watching people with their iPhones in a restaurant or at a party and they’re standing against the window taking a picture, and I know the photo isn’t going to be good,” says Merians, who has been a photographer for more than 30 years. That’s why she recommends treating the light in the environment like a flash—keeping the light behind you.


Use light and simple backgrounds to your advantage.

While there is a time and place for photos in the latest Instagram pop-up, stick to clean, simple, and light backgrounds for classic photos of your child. (And make sure there’s nothing in the background that looks like it’s coming out of his head!) Choose a background that will make the child stand out, Merians suggests, and stay away from darker backgrounds, which tend to go black in pictures.


Take candids from far away to capture the moment.

If you want to snap a shot of your child living in the moment (i.e. reading, playing, having fun with her friends), stand just outside the doorway or in another room to take the photo. Then you can zoom in and crop the photo to focus on your child. That way, she isn’t aware you’re there.


Don't forget to live in the moment with your kids.

With social media, it’s (unfortunately) easy to compare yourself and what you’re doing with your kids to others’ curated feeds. Merians urges parents to occasionally put the camera down: “I think it’s important to be with your children and enjoy them and interact with them and capture moments—just not all the time.”


Let your child take her own photos.

While you’re in an environment where your phone or camera is less likely to break if dropped (on carpeting) and your child is old enough, take a moment to teach him how to snap a photo of you. “It becomes a shared moment, a moment of education, and not all about what Mom and Dad want but letting the child have a voice and a vision as well,” Merians says. “They might find they enjoy having their picture taken that much more if they understand it.” And who knows, you might just have a budding photographer on your hands!


Make sure to get in the photos yourself!

Whether you’re on vacation or you’re doing something really cool with your child near home, ask someone in your vicinity to take a picture of you together. And if you see another parent snapping pics of their kids, volunteer be their photographer.

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Katelin Walling

Author: Katelin Walling is the former editorial director for NYMetroParents. She has been writing about parenting, health, finance, education, fun things to do in NYC and the surrounding area, and more for nearly 10 years. She also has 20+ years of child care experience and was a babysitter in NYC for 8 years. Katelin graduated from the University of Maine in 2011 and attended the NYU Summer Publishing Institute during the summer of 2011. To unplug in her free time, she can often be found reading, knitting (or general crafting), or whipping up a vegan treat—all with a cup of coffee nearby. See More

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