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Photography 101 Tips for Moms – Barrington Family Photographers




Article teaching photography tips to moms and dads

Have some questions about taking better photos of your children?
We are one of the top family photographers in Chicago and we are here to help!

We’ve all been there.  You see your child doing something super adorable and you pull out that fancy camera
you received for Christmas and snap a few photos.  Only when you take them home and upload them to your computer,
they are pretty, well let’s just say … not pretty.  😭

We have 7 easy tips you can start using RIGHT NOW to help improve your photos!
No kidding…  More interesting, more genuine and more “frame worthy”
photos than you’ve ever taken in the past.

Okay, here we go!

  1. GET DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL (and move around too)
    Yep, just simply kneeling down, sitting or bending can give you a whole new prospective from which to take your photo.  In fact, getting down to their level gives you a peek into what your children see and how they see it.  Life down there is actually pretty fun, go check it out!  There is a reason why this one simple step can make such a monumental difference in creating more solid images.  When you come down to the same height as your child, you allow them to engage with you in a more powerful and personal way.   Chat with them, play with them, show interest in what they are doing.  When the time is right, that camera can make it’s appearance.  But remember, just pushing away on that shutter button is just the start.

Black and White child Photo session


Photography is an art in which stories are told.  Different angles, prospectives and good composition can dramatically improve and add to the story you are trying to tell.  Here are few examples of some other angles and prospectives you can try


Above – Shooting from directly above your subject (or subjects) as demonstrated below to display what they are doing

Baby girl yawning on moms lapGirl on monkey bars


Below – Getting way down below their eye level or getting your subject higher than you and pointing your camera upward toward them.

Photo of young girl swimming with swim gogglesGirl in bedroom looking up at colored lightsFather lifting boy up toward the sky


Side  Position yourself on the side of your subject (without the expectation of them looking at the camera).  These types of shots are my favorite.  I love documenting the real, the genuine, the silliness of children when they don’t think you’re watching and at the same time, capturing a little more of what is going on around them.

Girl playing hanging donut gameOutdoor adventure photo session

unique child photography session


Behind This one speaks for itself.  Sometimes the view behind your children is pretty special too.

Children at zoo


Use Reflections This is a fun one as well, especially when the child doesn’t know you’re watching.  Kids are always so animated when viewing themselves in a mirror or other reflective surface.  You might even bust someone putting on mom’s makeup.

Girl putting on mom


Get in close – Remember those first days after you brought your babies home from the hospital, and you could spend the whole day studying their little faces, hands, feet and mouths?  Take the time to not only photograph the whole scene but to also get in close and capture their faces (or other details) up close.

Black and white child portrait

Alrighty, back to our list of tips!  Whew, that one included a bunch to try, but all worth mentioning to improve your photographs of your children.


2.  Pay attention to your light –
The word “photography” actually means painting with light.  So I think it goes without saying that having enough light is extremely important in achieving a properly exposed photo.  Now this does not mean the brightest areas outside is where the best light can be found.  Most photographers will tell you that the best light is during the “Golden Hour” (the hour just after sunrise and the hour just before sunset), and we would agree.  But you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn or keep your little ones up late to capture a great photograph.  Just as long as there is enough ambient light to illuminate your subject, you’ll be just fine.

Walk around your home, inside and out, and test different types of light throughout the day to find your favorite.  We suggest first photographing still objects or stationary subjects in order to familiarize yourself with your camera and the results you get with each area of light.

Try not to use the flash on your camera.  Most camera models allow you to turn off the flash.

Technical note:  We are assuming that you are likely using your camera on Auto mode or other mode besides manual for the sake of these beginner tips.  However, we do suggest studying your camera’s manual to learn how to control your shutter speed and aperture together with finding out where your ISO controls can be found.  These 3 items on your camera work as a team to help you get proper exposure in your photos and give you better control of your photography.  Learning to use your camera on “manual” mode will open up a whole new world in capturing images you love!

If you are interested in learning more about your camera controls and how to use them, we do offer a camera basics class locally in the Barrington and downtown Chicago areas a few times a year.  Feel free to check out the dates, details and locations here
 camera-basics-photography-101-for-moms  or inquire with us about future dates/times.


3. Take several shots (use continuous mode) –
All DSLR cameras have a continuous mode option. Continuous Mode allows you to hold the shutter down and take several images at once in fast sequence. Why continuous mode?  Because you’re photographing moving, running, jumping children who blink, cough, sneeze and itch of course!  Shooting in continuous mode allows you the best opportunity to get at least one or two good photographs of what you’re trying to capture.


4. Keep an eye on your background –
In other words, before you start taking photos, take a look around your subject for any objects that might distract from what or whom you are trying to capture.  If you are taking photos of your beautiful little baby boy in a park, you want the focus of your photograph to be your beautiful baby boy and not the huge trash can behind him.  Unless you plan to learn photoshop, doing your best to declutter your background beforehand, will make for much cleaner and more interesting images.

Family photography locations Illinois - rolling hills


5.  Let the kids be kids –
We know you REALLY want that cute shot of your kids looking at you with big smiles on their faces, but you are unlikely to get it by demanding they sit and smile at the camera.  Insert fake kid smile here 😬.  If you truly want those genuine, awesome smiles, you’re going to have to let go of your expectations for a few minutes and just let them do their thing.  We find that if you join in and laugh with them, say funny things that make them laugh, they will be much more likely to give you the coveted smiles you’ve been waiting for without even having to ask.  Just be ready because they won’t last long!  If you don’t get the smile, it’s okay.  You’ll at least have some photos of them having fun and sometimes those candid ones are gold!


6.  Don’t forget yourself! –
We hear it all the time, moms who don’t want to be in the photos because of this or that.  Once a month, hand that camera to another family member and let them capture a shot of you with your babies or better yet hire a professional once a year.  You may not love yourself in photos, but I promise you that your children will and they will cherish those photos all the years of their life.

Emotional Family Photography in black and white


7.  Hire a professional –
Of course, nothing beats an experienced professional photographer.  Especially when it comes to getting in the frame with your children.  Professional Family Photographers photograph families day after day and truly know the key to getting those frame-worthy photographs.  They are also skilled in getting dad on board, right angles for flattering adults and of course, getting your kids to laugh and smile.

The difference between a phone or camera snapshot and a beautifully composed and edited family portrait is drab to fab. Genuine, beautiful, emotional family photos are worth their weight in gold and will be treasured through the generations!


If you’re interested in telling your families story through our lens, click the “contact us” tab above.  We’d love to meet you!


Cianne Mitchell Photography is a maternity, newborn, child and family photographer
based in Barrington IL and servicing Chicago and most surrounding suburbs

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