As parents, we all want to improve our child photography skills. But creating candid portraits of your children requires a little bit of planning on your part to ensure that when the moment arises, you’re able to do it justice. However, children make for challenging models no matter what their age may be. We’re talking about sleepy eyes, blurred bodies, and easily distracted balls of energy. That’s a lot to handle when you’ve got your hands full with a camera.

As a mom and a child photographer, both my work and my life has taught me valuable lessons about how to create timeless child portraits. Here are some of my top tips for taking better pictures of your kids:

Washington DC baby photographer Julie Kubal

Stop flashing!

Contrary to what you may believe, your camera’s flash is not your best friend. This blinding light can result in unflattering shadows, distorted skin tones, and Dracula-like red eyes. Fiddle around with your camera’s settings and disable the flash entirely. Then – and only for very specific occasions – flip it back on.

Adjust your shutter speed

Working with a fast lens and shutter speed is essential for shooting child portraits without flash, whether you’re working indoors or outside. Speeding things up will allow you to blur out the background and minimize your photo’s depth of field, drawing attention only to your subject matter. 

Take it down to their level

Rather than staring down at your children and shooting from the heights, vary up your angles by getting down on your kids’ level.

Play freeze!

If you’re interested in hosting your own child photography session, keep your kids engaged by turning the photo shoot into a game. Try a little round of Simon Says or Freeze! to transform your family into modeling pros.

Forget about eye contact

Most candid photos are those of children exploring their environment, playing with friends, or falling fast asleep. To avoid causing a portrait to feel posed, try to catch your kids off guard. No need to look at the camera, no need to smile for mommy – just let them be.

Take too many

I often find that moms and dads set sky-high expectations for their photography skills, thinking that each shot has to result in earth-shaking art. As a professional child photographer, I can attest to the fact that we photographers take far more photos than we use. Why? Because we know that the more images we snap, the higher the probability we have of snapping up something magical.

Turn on continuous shooting

Try out continuous shooting mode to capture all of your children’s fleeting expressions and lightning-fast movement. Download everything onto your computer and dump the images that don’t work, leaving behind only the cream of the crop.

If you’re interested in learning more about perfect your child photography, sign up for my Snap Happy Workshop! I’ll share with you my top tips for stepping up your family photography and capturing keepsake-quality portraits every day.

Professional Washington DC Photographer Julie KubalAbout the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!