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Top 5 Tips for Photographing Your Kids from a Momtographer

It’s the perfect time of year to capture photographs of your children which you will always remember as “summer memories,” but…wait a second, why won’t the baby smile? Why won’t the toddler stand still? Gah! Don’t worry, mama – we have you covered! Seasoned photographer Alex Mooney is here with her very tried and true Top 5 Tips for Photographing Your Kids! You can see Alex’s gorgeous photos on Instagram.

Ahhhh, so the time has come for you to snap a quick pic of your kiddos.  What do you do?!  How do you manage to capture that cute little memory you’re looking at so you can share away with your social media family or take advantage of Shutterfly’s free print promo they’re currently (always) running?  Well, I have a few tips for you in your momtog ways to hopefully allow you to capture the best possible pictures of your kiddos that you can.

I’m a mom of three little ones myself (three kids four and under keeps me real BUSY) and am a photographer here in St. Louis.  I snap everything from births to weddings to pets; however, hands-down the most challenging subjects to capture are kids!  These tiny humans have their own little personalities, and unlike babies that just lay there and adults who are usually quite cooperative, kids definitely make me work hard to earn my paycheck.  Besides the daily onslaught of pictures of my own children, I’ve been taking pictures for others for almost four years and I’ve gotten pretty good at managing to get some decent snaps of kids I’m photographing.  I’m sharing with you my top 5 tips and tricks for photographing your kids — these work wonders for my own kids and kids I photograph, so hopefully they’ll work magic for you too!  And whether you’re snappin’ with your iPhone or a DSLR, all of these tips can apply — they’re less about the equipment you’re using and more about capturing the moment (and capturing it well!) your kids are creating.

1. Know your camera, lighting, and surroundings

Get to know your camera — whether it’s a DSLR or smartphone, know how to use it!  YouTube is a wonderful FREE resource for any tutorial on any kind of camera out there.  I whipped up this iPhoneography tutorial a while back about how to take good pictures with your iPhone (or really any smartphone).  Once you are relatively comfortable with your camera, it’s time to snap!  You want to make sure you are aware of your surroundings and lighting — you don’t want to put your kids in direct sunlight and try to get them to look up at you for a picture while being blinded by the sun.  Not-a-one of these tricks will help you combat that complete photo-taking resistance that’ll come from your kids!  You want to make sure you’re putting them in a spot that is well lit (only use your flash if you have to; embrace natural light always!) and isn’t blinding them (hint: shade always is a good choice!)…I always like to have the sun behind my subjects.  Obviously candid pictures happen sporadically and the beauty of candid is that they aren’t posed; however, if you are going for a posed picture, make sure you’re aware of your surroundings — try and eliminate any distractions in the picture (aka make sure there isn’t a random person in the background or a distracting sign) so you can focus just on your adorable kiddo subjects!

2. Bribery

I am most definitely not above bribery at.all.  This is my number one go-to when photographing my own kids and any kids I have for a photoshoot.  My favorite bribes are Dum-Dum suckers or bubbles (if you don’t want to load your kid up with a potentially sugary sticky mess).  When I want to get a picture of my kids, I tell them that if they cooperate for a picture (or 70) that they’ll get to pick a sucker out of the sucker jar — or they’ll get to play with bubbles in the front yard.  This trick works nearly every single time and I can usually get a few good snaps out of them before they realize that I promised them something tasty or more fun than sitting for a picture.

3. Props

Kids like holding things — my kids always seem to have something in their hands.  However, when you’re trying to take a picture of your kids, they’re usually more cooperative if they have a prop or something to hold.  Even a stick or flag or tiny toy works wonders, and totally illustrates the reality of having a kid too (they always have something in their grasps!).  I like to toss in pets as well as props; our dog Scooter makes a wonderful prop and I always end up getting some great snaps of the kids with him because they love hugging and petting him and I just keep snapping away!  In addition to letting your kids hold something, you can also use props to get your kids’ attention for the picture.  Bubbles (seriously, bubbles work magic when it comes to kids and pictures!) are a great prop and make for some awesome pictures.  Other things like a stuffed animal or a toy that you can hold and shake to get your kiddo’s attention works well to get their eyes geared towards you.

4. Being silly

Kids respond SO WELL to anything that they think is funny and makes them laugh (and laughing = great smiles for a picture!).  Do something silly, something you wouldn’t usually do or say, and this will instantly get your kiddo’s attention.  I look ridiculous 99% of the time when I’m trying to snap a picture of my kids because I’m dancing around, singing (I NEVER sing otherwise!) crazy loud, and saying anything (usually involving the words poop or butt; I have no shame in my silly game) that will elicit a smile, laugh, or grin out of my kiddos.  You can also bring a helper too to have them sing/dance/scream/whatever behind you while you’re snapping pics as well.  You can then focus on the pictures and they can focus on being silly and gathering attentions.

5. Embrace the chaos and candid moments.

This is my number one tip for photographing your kids: you have to realize that most kids have the attention spans’ of a gnat and you may only have mere minutes of cooperation out of them before they’re DONE and want nothing to do with your picture taking.  This is okay!  Embrace it — if the ‘posed’ picture you’re trying to achieve timing is over, let your kids play, explore, giggle, chat, and keep snapping away.  Some of my most favorite pictures of my kiddos are the candid, unposed, raw and real images of them just having fun — or not having any of your photo antics and have the most disapproving faces on you’ve ever seen!  Stand back and just keep snapping.  Try not to get frustrated if your kids aren’t cooperating or are totally over having their picture taken (easier said than done, I know!) and instead let them be kids and capture the chaos and realities of them being kids and I’m sure you’ll be happily surprised with the candid moments you capture.

Alrighty!  So these are my top 5 tips for photographing your kids.  All of them are tried and true by yours truly and really have made all of the difference in the world when photographing kids — my own to complete strangers!  Kids sense your sentiments, so if you’re stressed and pressing them for a good pic, chances are you’re not going to get one.  However, if you’re relaxed and having fun (back to number 4!) and embracing the moment (back to number 5!), you most definitely are going to get some good snaps of your kiddos that you’ll want to share so fast on Instagram and Facebook so everyone can see your adorable kiddos and what an amazing momtog you are.

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