Child jumps on trampoline

Tech & Media

8 Camera Phone Tricks To Help You Take Better Pictures of Your Kids

Feb 21, 2018

They say the best camera is the camera you have with you, and for many of us parents, that’s the camera on our phones. I’m by no means a professional photographer, but I do love taking photos of my two kiddos and the majority of those photos are taken with my phone simply because it’s always on me.

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Want to capture great mobile photos of your kids?  Here are some tricks:

Clean Your Camera Lens

This may sound silly, but if you’re like me, your phone joins you in the kitchen while you’re baking, it’s in and out of your pocket throughout the day and it gets thrown into your diaper bag when you’re out and about, which often leads to a dirty camera lens. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve whipped out my phone and captured the sweetest moment or expression only to later realize that the photo is blurry because of a dirty camera lens. Ugh! 

While I’m sure it’s recommended to use a lint-free microfibre cloth specially intended for cleaning things like glasses and camera lenses, I’ve gotten into the habit of giving my lens a gentle rub with the bottom edge of my t-shirt which does the job and yields crisp, clear photos.

Child in bath tub. The photo taken just moments before this one was completely out of focus due to moisture on the lens. A quick clean makes all the difference.

Use the Swipe Up / Sideways Functions

When your little one busts out the sweetest expression or when you peek around the corner to find your kiddos cuddled up and reading a book together, there’s no time to waste! Rather than unlocking your phone and opening your camera app, take advantage of your camera’s swipe up or swipe right function. It will save you a couple of seconds to (hopefully!) allow you to capture the moment.

Children read together. Sweet little scenes like these don’t always last very long, so if I want to capture the moment, I need to be ON IT and the swipe up function definitely helps!

Use Burst Mode

One of my favourite camera phone tricks! Kids don’t sit still all that much — they’re constantly on-the-go and snapping a pic at the perfect moment while they’re riding their scooters, playing soccer or jumping on the trampoline is next to impossible. To combat this problem, I like to shoot in burst mode, simply by holding my finger down on the shutter. Until you lift your finger, the camera will take a constant stream of photos, giving you a very good chance of capturing that perfect moment.

Once you get a quiet moment later in the day, simply open your photo gallery app, tap the burst photo and go into the 'select' option. Scroll through, pick your favourites and delete the extra ones. Burst mode seems to work best in optimal lighting situations, but it’s definitely worth giving a shot, especially when outdoors.

Child jumps on trampoline. This is one of a dozen+ photos I snagged of this particular jump using the burst mode and I love that I was able to capture them all, pick my favourite one and then get rid of the rest.

Use the Light

Want bright, crisp photos? Position yourself to best use the light. For instance, if you want your subject to be nice and bright, you’ll want to position yourself (and, of course, your camera!) with the light source behind you so that your subjects are illuminated and clear. Shooting with your camera towards the light source will make photos darker and give subjects a silhouette effect — though if that’s what you’re going for, that works too.

If you’re going for a more posed indoor photo, set your little ones up somewhere with plenty of natural light, perhaps in front of a big window or even an open door. If you’re outdoors, choose somewhere where there’s plenty of soft light — not the harsh, direct light that will cast dark shadows.

Kids drinking chocolate milk. I originally tried shooting this image from the side (with my camera facing the light source) and the photo turned out dark and blah. A little shift in my position and both kiddos’ faces are bright and clear.

Document the Everyday

When it comes to photos of our kids, I think most parents make a point of documenting important milestones and special occasions. That being said, there’s so much beauty in the everyday. The way your little one holds his hands together when he sleeps, how they devour every meal like they have never been fed in their life and how their little fists are constantly filled with cars no matter where you go. Those moments deserve to be documented, too, and just might end up being some of your most treasured memories in years to come.

Child sleeps. Photos of kids sleeping, despite it being such a routine, everyday activity, are some of my very favourites.

Shoot Candidly

While shots with both kiddos smiling at the camera are undoubtedly gorgeous, the majority of the time I enjoy taking photos of my kiddos doing what they do best — being kids who love to play, run, jump, explore and experiment. Don’t be afraid to document moments when no one’s actually looking at the camera.  I find that most of the time I can get a great shot — one that perfectly depicts true childhood — when they’re engaged in their play and seemingly unaware of the fact that I’m even taking their photo.

Kids playing on beach. Though neither one of my kiddos is looking at the camera, this photo perfectly sums up our day of sunshine and exploring.

Experiment With Perspective

While I often enjoy capturing photos of my little ones at their level, I also really love experimenting with different angles and proximities. Some photos look amazing when shot directly from above. Placing your camera on the ground and shooting upwards gives an interesting effect, too. Go in close to highlight a particular detail, or take a photo from far away as possible to capture the entire scene. I don’t think there are any real rules to follow here — just switch things up, experiment and have fun while taking photos of your kids.

A birds-eye view of the kids playing on the trampoline. While taking photos through the net of our trampoline doesn’t yield the greatest photos, I love this shot taken from our second story bedroom window.

When All Else Fails, Edit

The truth is, you’re never going to get perfect photos 100% of the time, especially when quickly snapping shots from your phone. Thankfully, with the help of a little bit of editing, many shots can be saved or improved with a basic photo editing app, or if you’re an Instagram user like me (@mamapapabubba), editing can be done directly in the Instagram app.

How you edit your photos is completely up to you, but I tend to love really bright, white, crisp photos, so I usually up my exposure a little bit, turn down the temperature if the photo’s looking a little yellow, and crisp it up just a tad using the sharpening tool.

Child smiles at camera.

This shot was taken in a dark bedroom and was not only full of shadows, but also very yellow due to indoor lighting. You don’t want to overdo it, but with some lightening and brightening, I think the shot was saved.

Well, that’s it! A few tricks to help you take better iPhone photos of your kids.

What would you add to the list?

Article Author Jen Kossowan
Jen Kossowan

See all of Jen's posts.

Jen is a teacher, blogger, and mama to a spirited little lady and a preemie baby boy. She's passionate about play, loves a good DIY project, adores travelling, and can often be found in the kitchen creating recipes that meet her crunchy mama criteria. You can follow Jen on her blog, Mama.Papa.Bubba, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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