Momtography: 5 Tips for Photographing Children

By: Jessika Kirkland

As mothers we often witness the beauty in our children on a day to day basis, but when we try to photograph them it simply doesn’t translate… Here are 5 tips that I find helpful to capturing your child’s adorable face and unique personality in your photographs.

1. Try adding flash or additional light.

Children are always moving, adding flash allows you to freeze their actions and help improve the exposure especially if you are working with limited available light. Constant light is an inexpensive way to add in extra light to places that may be limited, like inside your home. Some great lighting choices that are inexpensive and easy to use are the ProMaster FL-190 or a constant light.

The ProMaster FL190 is an external flash that is powerful enough to allow you to reach further with your lighting and light up a bigger space. The built-in flash on your camera only extends about 10 feet, which is going to limit you if you’re further than 10 feet away from your subject.

What I love about using a constant light, is “what you see is what you get.” The constant light is a continuous light that you just turn on and off – there’s not a lot of “thinking” involved from a technical standpoint. Its portable, easy to pop up and take back down for easy storage. Even better, the ProMaster Constant Light Kit at Calagaz is only $150 — it doesn’t get any easier (or better) than that!


2. Use focus to tell a story.
The face doesn’t always have to be the main focal point. Ask yourself… “What do I want to remember in 10 years?” Check your camera’s instruction manual and put your camera in “single-point focus mode.” This setting will allow you to pick what YOU want to be in focus instead of the camera deciding. Watch this short video on how to manually set your focus on your camera in one simple step.

3. Practice getting your timing right.

Pressing the shutter button on your camera half way down will focus the picture and then when you press it all the way down, it will take the shot. Practice getting the camera in focus and be ready for when they make their next move. Always know what’s coming next. Be ready for their next move, they are quick, you need to be quick.

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4. Never ask a child to smile or say cheese!

Guaranteed. 100% of the time. It will NOT be natural.  This is when you have fun and put on a show… Act like a goofball, let them laugh at you. The idea here is to capture your child’s natural laughter that makes YOU smile!

Try saying random things out loud like “pineapple pizza” or something completely silly. Things like this usually surprises children and makes them laugh.

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5. Eliminate distractions!

Yep, even if that requires asking mom, dad or grandma to step away. Too many people trying to get the child’s attention is very distracting, and kids just aren’t sure who to look at. It only leads to him/her to get irritated and not cooperate… and that’s no fun!

Just remember:  It’s more important to get the shot than to get a perfect one. Don’t miss something precious of your children because you can’t figure out your camera. Practice, practice, practice! And, when you run into something you have a question on, feel free to call us at Calagaz – we are always happy to help!

 For more tips, be sure to catch our next class on “Taking Better Photos of Children” – this hour and a half class is only $30!  Or, if you need more personalized help with your camera, schedule a one-hour private lesson with one of our many knowledgable instructors for only $60!  For a schedule of photography classes & events visit

Jessika Kirkland is a mom and a professional photographer with a passion for newborn, toddler and family photography, and experience in real estate photography since 2006. Jessika volunteers on a regular basis for the local organization, “Photography for Patients” where professional photographers volunteer their time and talent to take photos of kids with cancer… for free. For more information about Jessika or Photography for Patients, visit

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