Smartphone photography of your kids!

Have you ever felt frustrated about not being able to capture high-quality photographs of your children? I will give you some amazing tips so the photography of your kids with your smartphone will become a whole lot easier!

I’m a proud mother of two amazing boys myself and even though I am a photographer and have all this professional equipment, I don’t often use that to photograph them.

To be honest I only photographed my oldest twice and my youngest once. I did do a professional session with my two boys and husband when my youngest was just two weeks old.

But in the end, you get a lot of precious moments and most of them are captured with the camera on hand: your smartphone! Therefore, I will give you tips to photograph kids with a smartphone!

1. One Second Everyday

We capture because we want to remember. But what is it we want to remember?

The way our kids look, what they used to do? The way they used to smile? The things they used to wear?

But really, what is the worth of having thousands upon thousands of photographs on your phone if you are not ever going to look back at them? Then there really is no purpose to the act of capturing, right? Then the time and attention could have been better spent interacting with your kids, rather than stepping away and putting a device between them and you.

But what if there is a way to be able to document your kid’s life in a memorable way that is quick to make, takes just a little time every day and is easy to look back?

When I watched this TED talk I was introduced with the idea of filming one second, yes o-n-e  s-e-c-o-n-d, every day.

It takes up only moments of your time and your attention before you can get back to it and live your life.

Just filming and seeing one second can be enough to remember that whole day. Amazing, eh?

This is an example of what you can achieve with it! And believe me, when it is the clips you’ve filmed, and you are seeing your kids… The video gets a thousand times more interesting. (This also counts for grandparents and aunties!)

I have been using the 1 Second Everyday app for almost a year now and I just love to occasionally render the timelines I have (one for each of my boys and one for myself too). I just love to take a look at it and see what my personal movies are looking like now.

I’m very grateful for this app as it is also a nice incentive to go out and do things out of the ordinary. It makes you think of what would be something great to capture, and even though that might sound like a bad thing, it really isn’t. I mean, it does get you out and about doesn’t it?

Anyhow, you may have guessed by now I’m a huge fan of this app and I would highly recommend you to try this too.

In the beginning, you won’t have formed it into a habit yet, but don’t worry. You can do cheat days, too. I sometimes make two shots on one day and use that second shot on the day I forgot to take a video.

And remember, it is never too late to start! Your future self will thank you for it.

2. Mind the background

When I do photography of my kids with my smartphone I try to get a background that is as “clean” as possible. And by clean I don’t mean you need to whip out the soap and cleaning clothes. I mean there shouldn’t be too much jumble in the background.

If you can choose between a wall with nothing on it or the ground with toys scattered all over, the former is the better choice.

Clutter can be very distracting, especially as your phone doesn’t have a shallow depth of field (the entire photo looks sharp from back to front). Try to train your eye to see the easiest and most clutter-free backgrounds.

3. Photograph their activity

When I’m thinking of tips of photography with a smartphone of kids, I suggest trying to take pictures while your kids are doing something.

You get the most interesting photographs when they are all in their game – they may not even notice you scootching in to take that picture.

If there is something happening in the picture, it automatically becomes more interesting to look at. Your children will appear more natural as they are focussing on their activity rather than the phone/camera.

4. Capture everyday life

Also, don’t forget to photograph everyday activities.

Maybe they are looking so adorable as they sleep… capture it. In just a few months time they might not sleep like that anymore.

Do they smile in a certain way? Also worth a capture!

These are the moment’s people tend to forget to capture. But it is so good to look back at those moments later on when your kid has changed so much. Time already goes fast enough as is.

When you look back at photographs a year later you’ll realize how much has changed (and yes, change can be good. But really it is so nice to be able to look back at those past times just to remember it).

5. Take most smartphone photos outdoors

The light is better when you are out and about! Indoor areas can be quite dark and for your photographs, it’s better to have plenty of light.

Your photographs will look much better!

Phone cameras generally can’t handle lowlight situations as well as professional cameras (although they are getting better at it).

Still, photographs taken in light conditions will always look better, no matter what camera you use.

Besides, isn’t it good to be outside with your kids? I love being outside with mine!

6. Don’t zoom now, crop later

One of the most important tips for kids photography with a smartphone is that the quality very quickly diminishes when you take pictures using the digital zoom. (Note! there are new smartphones that do have a good zoom function nowadays! It’s crazy what they can do with multiple lenses!)

You accomplish the same effect by cropping the photograph after you’ve taken the shot, but you have much more control over the end result.

It is always better to crop afterwards than it is to digitally zoom when taking the photograph.

Photo by Steven Libralon

7. Get creative with your smartphone

There are several ways to get a bit more creative. A list of tips to photograph kids with a smartphone would be incomplete without some creative suggestions!

Silhouette photos

Have you ever tried to take a silhouette photo of your child? Wait until the sun is setting and the beautiful golden light hits the earth, the sky lights up yellow and orange.

This is the perfect time to snag one of these photos. Just tap the sky so the light meter will use that as a reference and voila, your kid now turns into a silhouette on screen.

I recently wrote a blog post about creating silhouette photos. Most of the tips also apply to smartphone photography, so be sure to check out these 7 essential tips!

Get up close and capture those details

You should try to get a bit more closely than you would normally do. Try capturing those details too.

The hands are cute!

I made a video of my youngest unwrapping a present. I filmed only his hands and this little clip is very dear to me.

If you go close your child will fill the frame and the photo will have significantly more impact.

Get lower or higher

Most smartphone photos are made on our own eye level.

Things get more interesting if you get lower, and take the photo looking upward at the subject, or even at their eye level rather than yours. Or, if you get higher and take the shot from above you’ll get equally as interesting pictures to admire.

Learn more

Since you came to this post to better yourself at smartphone photography, you might also be interested in the basic photography course for beginners I created. In this course, you will learn all about shutter speed, aperture, ISO and how to determine your own settings combining these three variables. On top of that, you will learn to read the histogram, an invaluable tool if you want to expose your photographs correctly. I can wholeheartedly recommend this course if you want to become a better photographer!

Do you have any tips?

Do you have any tips for photography of your kids with a smartphone I did not mention? Please tell me all about it in the comments!

And also if you liked this article, I would love to hear so in the comments as well. Every comment is appreciated a lot! <3

Merel Bormans
Merel Bormans is a photographer with her website and portfolio on She specializes in equine and canine photography and travels the whole world in pursuit of the most amazing photographs!

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