My Photography tips - Candid Childhood Pictures

Capturing gorgeous, candid pictures of the children is something I really love to do. It's such a great way to keep a moment forever. It has become a really fun hobby for me from finding the right composition and style to editing the picture to make it POP. 

Now, I'm no expert but sometimes that's what you need, none of the jargon or complicated settings just some tips from one amateur to another!

So what do you use? iPhone? DSLR, digital compact? Truth be told you can achieve good pictures from any one of these. It's not so much about WHAT you use but HOW you use it. So get out with what you got and have fun with it! 

Capturing beautiful pictures doesn't need to be difficult.


Get Down - no diggity

If you want to get better pictures of your children, get down to their level. It will improve the perspective of the photograph and capture the details better.

When taking Matilda’s picture {especially if she’s sitting down playing} I’ll sometimes sit the camera on the ground and click the shutter using the preview to check the angle. Eilidh is now about the height of me so I can usually just lean down a little to get the right perspective.

Speed is my enemy LOL sometimes the moment I would love to catch happens too quickly for me to get down and its missed, DANG.

I love the picture on the left of Eilidh and Matilda, I wanted to capture the fun and loving relationship they have. I wanted to remember their smiles and Matilda’s chunky wrists, even that awful big dummy she’s clutching.

The middle picture of Oscar at the time he was ‘mending his scooter’ I loved the composition, how you can see the track in the background and how his feet were tucked under the scooter.

The picture of Oscar and Matilda on the right MELTS my heart! It was taken on the same day I took the one on the left at the East Fortune Airshow. I thought it was such a sweet moment to capture between them. Matilda’s little lips, watching her brother help her. A picture that I’ll treasure

 Think about what you want to capture

What is it you want to capture? A happy smile on the swing, or little fingers holding their favourite toy. If you have an idea about what it is you want to capture it makes it easier. 

I adore capturing the kids features. I have thousands of pictures of baby hands, eyelashes, feet and chubby wrists (all of my own children of course - ha!) It’s so nice to look back and reminisce at how little they were.

Far left; Eilidh holding Cleo, I wanted to remember how little he was and how much Eilidh adored him, she had tears of joy in her eyes here as this was taken on the first day we brought him home.

Left; Matilda’s little hands colouring

Right; Matilda gently holding a carton, her little expression of ‘this is so lovely’ and her little squishy lips.

Far right; Matilda wearing her new shoes, crossing her little legs over. I wanted to capture her little frilly socks keeking out from under her leggings.

All the wonderful, small everyday moments that in even a years time we will look back and realise they were the big things.


Take the picture off-centre

 You’ll notice that most of the pictures I take of the kids are taken with them to either side, so that they’re not in the middle of the frame. I’m sure theres a technical reason having done a little research on it but really I just prefer them sitting like that, for now anyway!

As you can see I also love taking the kids pictures from behind looking onto wherever we are exploring. I would love to think that they’re gazing out at what they see thinking how wonderful it is but reality they’re probably planning their snack {just like their mama}.

Use the focus

Seems obvious but using the focus will capture the most detail in your picture if using a camera hold your finger on the shutter button gently will focus your lens and on iPhone, you can use your finger on the screen to select the area you wish to focus on. 

If you’re using a camera you’ll see a macro setting (normally a flower symbol) this setting is great for capturing detail however it tends to pop the flash up which I never like - the flash, unless you buy a fancy clip on one isn’t that great in my opinion it gives the subject a shiny glow. Little tip; if the flash does pop up, close it down, move back a little, refocus and try again usually it’ll not pop up as you’ve given more natural light between yourself and what you’re trying to capture.

I use this setting for a lot of ‘feature’ shots i.e. feet, eyes, lips and fingers!

 Camera Settings

I have two cameras, an Olympus E-500, its a great camera and I’ve got a few lenses for it but I don’t use it very often as it was a gift from Graeme’s dad after he passed. So my usual camera (and the one I’m referring to in this settings paragraph) is a Canon EOS 1300D it’s a reasonable price, as far as cameras go, I really rate it for a newbie, for someone who wants to take better pictures or start photography as a hobby.

I’ve mentioned before, I’m no expert but heres what I use for different scenarios and a brief description of some of the camera settings.

Aperture - It’s on my camera as ‘F number’ for close ups I set it right down low which focuses on one detail like the kids features but if I want to capture a whole scene I use a high F number.

Shutter Speed - this is basically the length of time the camera takes the picture. I change the shutter speed depending on how bright it is and what I’m taking a picture of. So outdoor pictures where they’re running around I would have it at 1/800 but indoor shots I would set it for around 1/100 but play around with this and you’ll find your own ‘numbers’.

ISO - This is all about brightness of where you’re taking the picture. If it’s a dark place {my enemy, I find these shots most challenging} you need HIGH ISO. My highest setting is 6400 if its bright you need LOW ISO, mine is 100. I’ll sometimes just flip it on AUTO cause, easiness!

Using the above settings I have the dial on M for Manual. Below I’ll describe how I use the other settings.

Av Al Servo - I use this setting for fast moving shots, if the kids are playing but not when they running. There are so many adjustments you can make to increase shutter speed, f-number and ISO.

Macro - a great setting, as mentioned above, for capturing the close ups.

Running man - this setting, I’m sure theres another name LOL but yeah, you get me, is good for when the kids are running around at the park, on the beach etc tip; if you hold the shutter down it will take multiple fast pictures one after the other that way you can choose the best ones at the end.

No Flash - if I’m feeling a bit lazy I’ll stick this setting on. Its non fussy and means I don’t need to mess around with settings. I would use AUTO but I don’t like it as much as it will pop the flash up - annoying.

Have fun

"Smile at the camera" photos make me cringe. I will sometimes encourage it to get the touristy memory pictures, y'know in front of a famous landmark on holiday.

The rest of the time I try my best to be invisible mamarazzi - ha. Letting them play and explore trying to stay invisible to catch the moment. If they're having fun you will get better, more natural pictures. 

Even when I'm trying to achieve a certain style of picture I never really guide the kids or ask them to pose, I think they would just get fed up and start to resent me taking pictures.

Think Creatively

One of my favourite times to get creative with pictures was when the kids were really tiny.

I wish I could go back to that time and use what I know now to improve the images.

Adding in props can be a great way to get creative. 

Natural lighting

The thing you'll hear most is good lighting, not just good lighting, NATURAL lighting. Winter is the photographers enemy with those darker evenings and dull days but finding a lovely naturally lit space.  


I feel like this could be a blog post in itself *takes note I LOVE editing. One of my little pleasures after a day out is to connect my WiFi to my phone, download the best images and edit them. I’ll actually bargain with G as to who drives on the way to a day out as I like to be the passenger on the return so I can edit!

I use VSCO app on my phone. It’s really simple to use and has some great presets. Right now I love A5, I turn it down to around +6.7 {depending on the image} then play around with Exposure, Contrast and a new favourite is Sharpen. I’ll sometimes adjust the Clarity but it can leave an image grainy. Its also here that I’ll ‘fix’ the image if its slightly off centre or not straight I’ll straighten it up.

Editing ‘recipe’ for this picture of Oscar is;

VSCO app

A5 / Analog +12.0

Exposure - 1.9

Contrast +1.2

Sharpen +8.4

I hope you found this post helpful in SOME way, if not I hope you liked my little trip down memory lane with the pictures! What would you add to my tips?

I love to hear what you think so please leave a comment or share with someone who you think would like to read.

Karen x