10 ways to photograph your kids like a pro

Lady photographing small child

Tips from a pro on how to get the most of you family holiday photos

We previously introduced the topic of taking great travel photos with kids; How do you capture those holiday memories when your hands are full?  How do you get your kids in the frame without losing your patience (or the light!)? How can you make those often fraught moments actually look good without lugging around expensive photography gear?

I’m now delighted to introduce you to professionally accredited family photographer Lisa from Lilypad Photography.  Not only has she got 8 years of experience as a professional photographer, but she is also a fully-accredited member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) and she has thrice won the WA Professional Family Photographer of the Year award!

With these credentials, it was hard not to resist asking Lisa what she could add to help you get the most out of your treasured holiday memories.

How to take great travel photos with kids | A Vlub Lilypad & Our Globetrotters blog post to improve your travel photography

Keri has already given some really good tips on taking great travel photos! I really love her first tip about keeping it simple and using your point and shoot – even as a pro I don’t always take my big fancy camera away with me. The principles of great photography are more about the way you shoot than what you use. So no matter what camera you take on your holiday, these tips will have you rocking your travel photos in no time at all. 

1. Make it fun – not cheesy!

You’re on holidays, so naturally, you’d like some shots of your family together, preferably smiling, in the new and stunning locations. It shouldn’t be that hard, should it? Umm, yeah, I’ve got kids too. It can be. Very hard.

I have two simple rules that will give you the best chance of making it work. Rule one: You have to make it fun! It’s really that simple. Keep it positive and don’t ask kids to say cheese you’ll only get that fake square smile. Instead, make it a game, be silly, crack a joke and no matter what you do, don’t get frustrated and bring out your “parent” voice – it just doesn’t work for photos.

Instead, be as silly as you can. Try acting the clown or cracking a good poo joke. Seriously, poo jokes, they work almost every time. If your little one doesn’t even want to stand there, then give them something fun to do instead, something to focus on that’s not having their photo taken like looking for the dolphins, throwing the leaves or snow.

Rule two: Be prepared. Get yourself and your camera set up, take a test shot or two, make sure the light is right, and then, and only then, call in the kids! Since your on holidays, the odd ice-cream bribe can work a treat. As a bonus, you get to have ice-cream too – or is that just me 🙂

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

2. Set yourself a goal

Holidays are busy, especially with kids, but they can also mean you have a little extra downtime than at home. Why not set yourself the goal of getting to know your camera better and attempting to move off auto.

Pack your manual, or download it to the tablet/phone and have a bit of play around. Experiment with shutter priority and aperture priority settings if you have them, or even play with manual if your game.

Keep it achievable and decide on one shot you really want to master and capture that while you’re away. A silhouette is a great one, to capture it right you need to take control of exposure in your camera and make sure it’s exposing for the background, not the subjects.

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

3. Light

Keri has already talked about the best time of day for photos being mornings and afternoon with the glorious soft light and golden glow. Taking the kids for a stroll after dinner to see the sights or getting out for a walk if they are up early are perfect times for taking photos.

Unfortunately, when we’re travelling there are always times when you visit an amazing location or attraction and it’s not ideal light, it’s bang in the middle of the day. What do you do then?

Never fear, you don’t need to put your camera away or miss the moment, you simply need to know how to work it best. Midday shooting on sunny days can be great for capturing bright and bold colours in the environment & you can get great action shots.

If you can, keep the sun behind you. Midday is never going to be the best time for capturing close-up portrait-style images, so unless you can move your family to a shaded area, and still get the feel of the location, stick with moments and more landscape heavy photos.

If you absolutely have to take a portrait-style shot, reverse it things and keep the sun behind your subject and expose for their face rather than the background.

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

4. Mix up the angles

When you’re travelling, don’t fall into the trap of only taking standard snapshots of the environment. These are an important part of the story, but also consider getting up really close to capture details in the different architecture, markets, plant life etc.

And similarly, step right back, perhaps look for a high point where you might be able to take a really wide shot that takes in the whole scene. Confession time – I’m addicted to the panorama function of my iPhone. It takes some amazing shots without the need for me to spend hours in post-processing editing and stitching shots together when I get home.

Getting all different perspectives when you travel really gives your album that special something when you get home and tells more of a story of the trip. You might even find you’ve captured a quirky abstract piece for the wall! 

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

5. Tell a story

Think about telling a story with your images instead of always taking the standard looking at the camera smiling shot. Put some thought into some of the new experiences or moments that make this holiday special or different and capture these.

Try and get a mix of “set up” action, and fly on the wall shots where the kids might not even now you were photographing them. Instead of standing on the beach smiling, capture them running along the shoreline or building the sandcastle.

You can even get up close and just capture those sandy hands, or maybe they’ve collected some shells, take a shot of the shells in their tiny hands. Look for elements you can include in the shot that add to the story, maybe it’s that well-worn travel bag they’ve dragged everywhere, dirty feet from too much fun outside. Capture some moments.

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

6. Look for some space

Travel is a great time to practice your composition and start taking photos that look amazing! I want you to embrace space in your photo and think about not putting your main subject in the middle of the shot every time.

The good old “rule of thirds” has stood the test of time and can help you with working out where to place your subject in the frame when you first start experimenting. You’ve probably even seen this grid on your phone or camera before, the idea is that you place the subject roughly on the area where the lines interesect.

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

And just like that, your image has better balance and you look like a creative superstar! You can use this rule to play more with negative space.

Negative space is, quite simply, the space that surrounds a subject in an image. It’s as important as the subject itself and helps to bring balance to a composition. It can sometimes be a little tricky to get right, so the key here is to practice and experiment until you get the right feel. With travel, negative space can be the clear blue sky, gorgeous clouds and water or even an interesting wall.

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

7. Frame your picture!

Use that new landscape to add a natural frame to your images. Simply including a sweeping tree, a doorframe, or window you can create a natural frame in your photo and add interest. If a window has an unusual shape, thing about shooting the scene outside the window with the window silhouette around it, framing the shot.

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

8. Black & White

It’s tempting to stick with colour when you travel, everything seems so beautiful and vibrant compared with back home. Sometimes, particularly for action shots, when you’re really capturing the moment, the mood and expressions of your family eliminating colour can really improve and image. Making the image black & white can eliminate distracting backgrounds and enhances the mood or feeling of the shot.

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

9. Exist in your photos

I love selfies. Don’t be absent from your family history! In 20 years time, your kids are going to treasure the images your in, as much, if not more, than those of them alone. So take family selfies, ask a passerby, but make sure you’re in the photos of your holiday. Don’t allow any concerns about how you look to stop you, your kids love you. Just as you are right now.

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

10. Make something with your photos

Lastly, make sure you do something with your images. Don’t let them languish on the hard drive or sit on the card on your camera for years. Download them, back them up, and print a few.

I love to make special holiday books of our travels, big trips will get their own book. I’ll also pick a few of my favourite moments for the wall. If you can try to get to it within a few weeks of being back before day to day life gets in the way. After all, there’s nothing like a great shot from your family travels to brighten a droll day.

How to Photograph your kids like a pro | With Club Lilypad and Our Globetrotters

The perfect way to finish off your family travel book is to add some fun and inspiring captions and quotes like

“The tans fade, but the memories last a lifetime” or “Don’t just tell your children about the world. Show them.” 

If you’re looking for more ideas, we have over 200 family travel quotes over here!

Thanks so much to Lisa for sharing her tips with Our Globetrotters readers.

If you want to start taking family photos you love, visit My Photo Mojo there are loads of free resources, even a free mini course to help you take better photos.

Lisa at Club Lilypad | OurGlobetrotters.Net

Lisa Ivandich has been WA’s Professional Family Photographer of the Year for past three years. She’s so passionate about recording our children lives she’s recently started up My Photo Mojo to help Mum’s get the most out of their cameras and take photo’s they love.

Don’t forget to revisit Part 1 for more advice on the “how-to” and logistics of taking your camera travelling with kids, and pop over to our travel advice section of the blog for more great posts on travelling with your kids

Like our tips? Please share!

Images © Lisa Ivandich / My Photo Mojo / Feature image Canva

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase or sign up to My Photo Mojo after the seven-day free Photo Boost course we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Post originally written March 2016, updated March 2020. Our full disclosure policy can be found here.

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8 thoughts on “10 ways to photograph your kids like a pro

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Absolutely – loads of these I put into use on our recent trip and it makes such a difference when you actually go in to a situation actively thinking about how you can capture things differently

  1. Stacy says:

    #10 is where I fail the worst. We have so many photos just sitting on hard drives or memory sticks. I really need to do something with them. My kids love the few photo books we do have.

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Yep also guilty as charged – I do a bit bout every couple of years which then ends up taking me forever to catch up…. the only picture I have of my third child on the wall is an enlargement of his last passport picture!!!! Yes MUST do this one by the summer!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Amazing tips!! Can’t wait to put the into practice..I am so bad at printing them off – must do better with that!

    • Keri from Baby Globetrotters says:

      Greta to hear that you’re doing a lot of things right too I bet! But I’m definitely going to experiment more with her points on negative space and blending close up shots as well, I never look at the detail enough

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