5 Photo Tips for Kids + A Photo List for Fall!


photo tips for kids in fallGorgeous fall has arrived, your kids have a new season’s wardrobe, and a whole host of photo-opp autumn activities are ahead of you. If there was ever a great time to make a conscious effort to capture some updated photos of your littles, this is it!

As a photographer, I love my fancy equipment — but it’s not always necessary. I take as many pictures of my son on my phone as I do my camera, because that’s just the real-life speed of parenting.

Gear aside, here are my top photo tips for capturing beautiful shots of your kids on WHATEVER camera you have available. I also have a list of shot ideas to plan for this beautiful season.

Photo capturing doesn’t have to be a production — no itchy clothing they wouldn’t normally wear — and please, PLEASE no asking them to say “cheese” (no one wants the pained-smile emoji face!).

5 Photo Tips for Photographing Kids

With these tips, you can plan for photo success (ANY time of year). Let your kids be themselves and center your shoot around FUN!

photo tips for kids in fall

Tip #1. It’s all about light

Great light is KING in shooting great photos — here’s how to find and harness it.

The word “photography” is rooted in Greek and literally translates to “drawing with light”. Is your image blurry? Grainy? Light is always at fault for whatever is wrong. (If you shoot in “portrait mode” on your iPhone — sometimes it will tell you outright there is “not enough light” to take a worthy shot.) Depending on what you are shooting with, you may or may not have a lot of tools at your disposal to compensate for poor light. Set yourself up for success and find as much light as you can.

Natural light is always best. Shoot outdoors whenever possible and avoid mid-day when the sun is the harshest. If you must shoot indoors, get yourself near the biggest, brightest windows you can find.

Light is no good if it’s blinding your subject, washing them out, or causing them to squint. If it’s bright out, shoot in any available shady spot. If it’s sunrise/sunset, get the sun BEHIND your subject. When I first was learning this, I was told to “always put your subject in their own shadow” and it’s helped me ever since.

photo tips for kids in fall

Tip #2: Be ready to move around

When you’re shooting a photo-worthy moment, try capturing it from every angle you can think of.

As adults, it’s easy to plant our feet and shoot from where we stand, hovering over our kids. How many images do you have of your child, looking up at you, neck strained (and maybe squinting into the sun as a result)? You can create a much more compelling image simply by getting down on their level and shooting them straight-on. The background aligns with their own vantage point and as the person viewing the photograph, you feel like you’re there and not just a spectator.

Crouch down so you’re eye to eye — even lay on the ground if you have a crawler. If you don’t have sore muscles and dirty clothes by the time you’re done photographing, you aren’t doing it right 😉

photo tips for kids in fall

Aside from getting on their level, try other angles. I like to shoot DIRECTLY overhead to capture the essence of their little hands at work on whatever task they’re doing, or from below to make them seem bigger and ironically emphasize just how little they still are. If they’re LOCKED on something of interest, try to capture their profile (without distracting them) to catch that look of wonder before they realize they’re being watched.

photo tips for kids in fall

Beyond your angle, move or zoom in closer and then back further away. It’s easy to default to getting just a child’s face (or their cute outfit) in the shot, but sometimes just showing a tiny piece of them, or stepping way back to show the environment they’re in, tells the best version of their story. I zoomed IN (above) to tell the story of the Pez obsession…and OUT (below) to show the pulled-back chaos scene, post-cake smash and banner ripping!

photo tips for kids in fall

Tip #3: The Golden Rule of Photographing Children

Keep. It. Fun.

There is no faster way to send photo opps downhill than hissing a command at a child who’s distracted or turning their silly antic into a disciplinary moment (and what you capture will be strained and inauthentic).

photo tips for kids in fall

In the above photo, my son (then about 22 months) was just not into my idea of sitting among the poinsettias. I flashed a hot wheel from my purse at him before quickly hiding it down in the flowers, excitedly asking him if he could find it. That look is the moment he looked up having done so.

Depending on their age, you can ask your little subjects to tell you a joke or ask them to do their biggest belly laugh. One of my favorite go-to tricks is to ask them to first make their silliest face (snap), their saddest face (snap) and then their very best smile (snap, snap, snap away!). You’ll take a whole bunch of duds (delete them!) but you’ll also get that elusive keeper where they’re really smiling their genuine smile without time to posture themselves. Not only do you get the non- “cheeese” face, but you’ve set yourself up for a positive association with picture taking in the future.

Kids just want to have fun with you — making the photo time enjoyable sets you up for all kinds of success next time around. Give them time to be fun and be KIDS — you’ll get your shot and then some.

photo tips for kids in fall  

Tip #4: Get in the shot, too.

You were there too, mama. You can’t paint a picture of their childhood if you aren’t also telling the story of your motherhood. Put on mascara if it helps you feel better doing so, but get in a shot with your kids. If no one is around to take the pic for you (or maybe you’re more confident if no one else is around watching!) either locate the self-timer button or invest in a wireless remote specific to your phone/camera model. Take a bunch until you have one you’re happy with. We even make a game of running back and forth and hitting the delay-shutter button. Don’t stop until you have one with you in it. Your children will treasure it one day.

photo tips for kids   

Tip #5: Ignore all of the above.

All of the above to say, don’t overlook the everyday magic that is childhood. Don’t only get your camera out when the light is right, the clothing is perfect, and the scene is Christmas-card worthy. Some of my favorite images are half-dressed in a messy room of our house. It’s real life, and it’s perfectly imperfect. Do what you need to do at minimum (wipe a nose, open the curtains for light) but otherwise challenge yourself to capture what’s there and what’s REAL.

If you’re interested in getting further into digital photography, I can’t say enough great things about local business Christian Photo for awesome “101” classes. And for a list of my favorite gear to get started, you can check out my recommendations on my own blog here.

Fall Photo List

Just about any fall activity sets up a pretty (naturally lit!) scene, but here are some fall photo opp ideas to inspire you!

  • Set kids up with an autumn picnic on a cute plaid blanket (this keeps them in one spot so you can practice different perspectives)
  • Ask kids to jump in the leaves (easy to get real smiles!)
  • Ask multiple kiddos to cozy together under one big fall blanket (lots of laughs and the best group photos are when people are squeezed in tight together!)
  • School routine details (waiting for the bus from behind, backpack/details – tell the story of their school days)
  • Of course…a shot in their Halloween costume (and let them go all-out getting into character)

Happy fall…and happy photographing!!!


  1. Liz these are such great tips!!! Couldn’t agree more that light is king but I also love #5 and the importance of not missing out on the everyday magic of our kid’s childhood. It can be so easy to wait for only the “perfect” moments that we really miss out on capturing the moments in between.


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