1. Never say “cheese” again.
Kids tend to smile unnaturally when asked to say “cheese.” Instead, try to capture a natural smile by making them laugh, which looks a lot better on film.
2. Get a camera lens buddy.
A big challenge of taking photos of your kids is getting them to look at the camera. Camera lens buddies make this a lot easier, especially with younger children.
3. Schedule your shoots when your kids are fed and have napped.
Cranky, hungry kids do not make for happy subjects.
4. Be relaxed.
It’s easy to be stressed during a photo shoot, but if you’re tense, your kids will be, too.
5. Get down on their level.
Most shots of kids are taken looking down from an adult’s perspective. Moving closer to the ground not only make your photos more interesting, but also gives you the chance to film your kids at their eye level.
6. Shoot from above.
While shooting at your kids’ eye level is usually best, you can get a lot of cute shots from above. It’s also smart to take a few of these shots because changing your camera angle during a shoot helps to keep kids moving and engaged.
7. Get close.
Capture all of those beautiful little features.
8. But also step back.
Filming your kids alongside something larger, like the frame of a doorway, will put in perspective how small they really are.
9. Don’t photograph your kids looking into the sun.
No background is so terrific that it’s worth having your kids squint or look at the ground. Even changing the angle slightly, so that the sun is at your kids’ side, will improve your photos.
10. Don’t be afraid to use props.
Giving your kids something to hold will keep them relaxed and natural, especially if it’s an item that’s meaningful to them.
11. Shoot at magic hour.
You can get some incredible shots slightly before sunrise or as the sun is setting.
12. Offer rewards.
It may not be A+ parenting, but kids who are promised ice cream after a photo shoot tend to be a lot more cooperative than kids who aren’t.
13. Shoot at locations your kids like.
Kids are more likely to have fun when filmed at locations they enjoy, and their joy will come through in your photos.
14. Get impromptu shots.
Candid photos capture a child’s unguarded personality. One way to get these is by snapping shots between poses, or by unobtrusively filming them when they’re busy with an activity.
15. Dress kids in clothes they’re comfortable in.
If your kid never wears a suit, a photo shoot is not the best time for him to start wearing one unless you want him tugging at his collar the whole time. Of course, if dressing up is your kid’s thing, then go for it: a kid in a suit is adorable.
16. Take some silly shots.
Even if they’re not keepers, silly shots will loosen kids up and make the experience fun (which will improve the quality of the other photos you take).
17. Tickle your kids.
If taking a few silly shots doesn’t loosen up your kids, try tickling them. Your kids will laugh and it’ll lighten the mood.
18. Show your kids photos as you go along.
Stopping every few minutes to let your kids see the fruits of their labor, so to speak, will keep them engaged in the shoot longer.
19. Consider investing in a digital SLR.
A digital SLR may be pricey, but the quality of photos you’ll get with it is much better. DSLRs also have no shutter lag (like point and shoot cameras do), so you’ll be able to capture the moment without motion blur.
20. Use the “rule of thirds.”
This is a basic rule of composition that makes photos look more appealing to the eye. Learn more here.
21. Bring an assistant if possible.
An assistant can help you adjust your kids’ hair and clothes, make them smile, and even take a shot or two when you want to jump in the frame.
22. Take lots of photos.
The magic of digital cameras is that you aren’t wasting film, so feel free to fill up that memory card. The more photos you take the more keepers you’ll get.