How to take amazing pics of your kids

15 tips and tricks to help you get those really special shots.

15 tips and tricks to help you get those really special shots

(All photography by Lady Hayes)

I get asked a lot how I'm able to take such cute pics of my kids. It definitely has its challenging moments — I have been in situations where both my kids are dressed and smiling, then I turn my head for a minute and suddenly one is naked and the other one is screaming and covered in marker. Yes, true story! Even though kids can change their mood in an instant, I have learned how to outsmart them (most of the time) and capture some great moments. Here are some of my favourite tips and tricks for making picture taking fun and easy for everyone.

1. Be prepared and move fast! This seems obvious but the more you have your ducks in a row, the smoother it will go. Kids have a very limited attention span, so if you're fiddling with your camera and getting props from other areas of the room, they will be long gone. Have everything you need right beside you. 

2. Let kids be kids! Encourage them to make funny faces and move their bodies in silly ways. The more you let them shake their sillies out in front of the camera, the more they will cooperate when you ask them to look at you and smile.

3. Take a ton of photos! When I take photos of my kids I sometimes shoot 100 photos or more. There's bound to be at least one gem in there!

4. Find the light! It sounds simple but this is the absolute most important thing about photography. The word photography actually comes from the Greek words photos (light) and graphos (writing, or painting). Cool right? Window light is one of my favourites. Taking a photo as your kid looks out the window will always look amazing. Look at how the light is landing on their face. Are there big dots of light? Do they have awkward shadows on their face? If so, move around until that light is balanced on your subject's face and snap away. Another beautiful lighting moment is called The Golden Hour. This is the time of day just before the sun sets. You get a soft glow and everything looks simply magical. 

5. Tell a story by shooting a series of photos. This makes for a great photo cluster on your wall. I generally like to shoot about four for a series. Your kids can be laughing in one, giving a peace sign in another, sticking out their tongues, holding their favourite toy, etc. You'll get great results when you let them be silly and it'll make your heart smile to see those silly faces on your walls.

6. Take it to the woods! Let them collect sticks and run free and follow closely behind them and capture their cute little faces exploring. If you're shooting outside on a beautiful day, I like to find a shaded area for my kids to stand. If you're shooting in direct sunlight, you'll often get pictures with kids squinting or their eyes watering. I do however, love sun flare! If you'd like to capture a dreamy sunny day feel, have your kids stand with the sun on their backs and shoot directly into the sunshine. This will create a beautiful flare. It works best if the sun is getting closer to the ground.

7. Clear the clutter! It's amazing how much you can improve a photo once you remove a few toys and some dirty dishes from the background. Take a second and toss them out of the frame.

8. Think about composition! This is the arrangement of your visual elements within your photograph. A successful photograph or painting will keep your eye wandering around the image for a long time. I usually like to arrange my elements in a triangular pattern. A triangular composition is a concept in art where all your elements in your photograph flow within a triangular shape in your image. This allows the viewer to engage longer with the image because our eye will naturally flow within the frame following the lines.

9. Let them pick what to wear. Now this one can get tricky if you actually want them to be in something specific. I usually pick two outfits and let them choose between the two. Kids feel empowered when they have a choice — even if it was already curated by your awesome sense of style.

10. Pick out some cute props! Anything from flowers to cute hats to cotton candy will work. It's easier to snap some pics when kids are preoccupied with objects and it can make for some really playful photos.

11. Bribe them! Yes. I said it and I do it sometimes. You'd be surprised how far a sentence like "When we're finished taking pictures, let's go gobble up some jelly beans" will get you.

12. Use photo editing apps! There are so many great apps that can make your simple phone snaps go from OK to pretty awesome. I really like A Colour Story. Typically I like to brighten my photos with a filter, increase the saturation a little, sharpen them and then add some warm tones to my highlights. I recommend having fun with it! Experiment with the app like a kid would, exploring what each button does. You can always revert to the original file.

13. Feed your kids first! Both of my little ones can get a serious case of hanger. If I want to take their picture I always make sure their little bellies are full of something yummy and fresh like fruit!

14. The calm in you, is the calm in them. I repeat: the calm in you, is the calm in them. As soon as you hear yourself saying, "Don't do that, stay still, don't hit your sister, just stop it, look here!", take a deep breath or take a break. It's just not your time. Kids pick up on stress so try your best to make it calm and easy for everyone and keep your expectations realistic in terms of their attention span.

15. Play Simon Says! It's absolute magic. Simon says "Smile big, Mama needs a pic for our holiday card!" works wonders. The most important thing is to have fun and let your kids be themselves. Happy snapping!

Lady Hayes is a designer, photographer and mama, known for her beautiful floral inspired projects and lifestyle. Her love of flowers shines through her couture crafted Flower Crowns and Petal Pop, her line of Floral Confetti with sun dried roses and gold confetti glitter. Stay connected! Visit Hayes over on her Instagram or visit her website to shop and say hi!

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