Let’s be honest with ourselves – we all love having professional photos taken. There’s nothing better than an amazing portrait of us snuggled with our loved ones. But wouldn’t it be great if you could change just a few things to make the everyday photos of your children look a bit more polished and professional? As a professional photographer who has photographed dozens of families and hundreds of children, I get clients asking me about this regularly. So in response to that, here are 5 EASY tips for taking better pictures of your children, with whatever camera you have (including your phone)!

DRESS FOR SUCCESS

I get it – it isn’t realistic to dress your children like Suri Cruise everyday. Heck, many weekends my four children stay in their jammies the entire day (and if I’m being honest, sometimes wear them 2 nights in a row). If you aren’t planning on doing a pillow fight photo shoot, it’s time to get the kids in some “real” clothes. This doesn’t mean you have to get fancy, keep it simple! A neutral top and some clean, wrinkle-free pants will do the trick! Top it off with brushed teeth and clean hair, and your little will be more than picture ready! FIND THE LIGHT

No matter what kind of camera you’re using, using light to your advantage will greatly improve your everyday photos! During the day, your best source of natural light indoors is a big window or sliding glass doors. Put your kids nearby and snap away, using that beautiful sunlight to your advantage! If you’re outdoors and the sun is too bright, simply find a place with great shade – under a tree, maybe next to a building. The ambient daylight will fill in the eyes of your child in a much softer, more beautiful way. And if it’s nighttime, don’t be afraid to take advantage of the light you have available. Maybe a lamp next to your child’s bed, or the glow of an iPad. These forms of light can also be a part of telling your child’s story.

ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS

When taking photos of your children, it’s important to incorporate the environment. After all, we’re trying to capture moments of who they are during this fleeting time in life. Special toys, beloved blankies, favorite snacks, those are timeless memories. But while recording those, eliminate the other distractions in the environment. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to clean your entire house. But in that space, move out any elements that will detract from your sweet little one – put away extra toys that aren’t as special, move dirty clothes to the hamper. Then, the stage will be set for some great photos!

WORK YOUR ANGLES

Our natural instinct is to look other people in the eye, and so with that comes our natural instinct to take photos with people facing us, centered in the frame. This is why so many cameras are made with the focal point right in the middle of the viewfinder or screen. But to get truly fun and interesting photos of your children, break that habit and try something new! Work your angles! Shoot from above or below. Shoot from behind or the side. Shoot really close, getting small details like freckles or toes. Shoot really far back to show how small your child is in this big, big world. By trying these new compositions, you will certainly capture some very special memories!

MAKE IT FUN

If you take nothing else away from the tips I’ve shared here, at least take this one. It’s truly the most important of all. Children live in perpetual play, and so when we take photos of them, the best way to get genuine moments is to make it FUN! Play with them. Tell them silly jokes (potty humor is always a winner). Sing songs to them. Encourage them to dance. Adventure and explore with them. When children are having fun, they are much less likely to paste on the stereotypical “say cheese” smile, and instead you will get a grin or laugh that lights up their eyes.

Now go turn on your camera and take some great photos of your kids! Capture your daily moments, the happy, the sad, the fun, and the not-so-fun. All of it is worth remembering because, in the blink of an eye, those little fingers will be just a little bigger. These photos are little time capsules, serving to bring us back to when days were filled with gummy smiles, bubble baths, and homemade superhero capes.