7 simple tips for better shots of your children

Hey guys! Today, I’m super excited to have our fave photographer do a little guest post for us as a part of a new mini-series here at The Handmade Home. You may recognize Martin Harris of Britsnap Photography from his beautiful work we’ve featured here before.

As he puts it ever so eloquently from his site:

My style is undefined. Color, Romace and Innocence are all characteristics that I try to convey in my images. I love shooting outdoors in natural sunlight, but I also love the fun and creativity of using other sources of light…Being self taught, I feel that my photography is not restrained to basic photographic laws and principles. The natural adventurer in me is a constant force pushing me to be different, mixing that with Southern culture and British Style.

Taking a peek at his work, you can see Martin is quite the master of lighting, and has a a real grasp on the elements of style and composition with what he does. He works with almost everything from families + children,

to maternity,



and so much more.

There are about a million and one tutorials out there now in the web-o-sphere on capturing better photographs with DSLR cameras. And they’re absolutely wonderful. Today, with Britsnap, we wanted to focus on the element of composition and style, and the simple methods we can use to capture better photographs of our children.

With any camera.

If it were sliced into a pie chart, the different aspects that make a photographer successful would have many different angles {pun intended}. But from this main overview, we’re about to share something earth shattering: Photography is 10 percent all about the right camera + equipment, and 90 percent lighting, enthusiasm, composition + style. This post will cover some of the simple things that are sometimes overlooked in one of the most challenging elements of DIY photography. Our children.

So without further ado, take it away, Martin!

We all love to share pictures of our children, whether emailing to out of town relatives, sharing online, or simply hanging on your wall. It is easy to become frustrated because you don’t have the shots that you want, but it is easy to change a few things in your technique to improve on what you are already doing and capturing natural, un-posed portraits.

While some of them may seem common sense, they’re a few things people kind of forget in the process. Here’s a few basic tips that I use, to take better photographs of my own children.

1) Get at your child’s level. This is so easy to do! Instead of standing up and
reaching for your camera and quickly firing away, take the time to crouch
down to your child’s eye level and engage them. Maybe ask them a question
or get them to show you something they are playing with. This way, instead
of having a ‘view from a grownup’ you are able to capture more of who they

2) Don’t forget about the details. Your child’s favorite toy, favorite pair of boots
or pink toenails…these are the details you will love to look back on and
remember when they are grown. Don’t worry about getting all of your child
in the picture. Often just a shot of their feet with boots on is good enough.
Concentrating on a particular detail or prop can help create an interesting
portrait. The eyes are always a great place to focus on.

3) Shoot in the shade. If you are outside and playing, move your child to a shade
spot. This prevents harsh shadows on the face or eyes. Forget the old rule
of ‘having the sun behind you’ when you are shooting. When taking portraits
of your children, all this does is create the shadows or make them squint!

4) Show your children the pictures as you are taking them. Children are
fascinated with seeing themselves in the back of the screen and often will be
excited to try something fun or a different facial expression if they know they
can see it once you have taken the picture.

5) Play tricks to keep your child still. One of the greatest challenges is stopping
a moving child from being a blur in the camera. Try this tip: Have your child
stand still and tell them to close their eyes (most children will stay still when
you tell them to do this). Quickly tell them to open then close their eyes, they
will love the game and play along, and normally give you a smile at the same
time. All you have to do is to be ready for when they open their eyes.

6) Try giving your child a prop or something to play with. This will give them something to occupy their mind, something to focus on, and that simple gesture could distract them from the attention you are providing. It will relax them, giving you the opportunity to take a photograph as if you were not there.

7) Let your children wear clothing that they are comfortable in, something that
they are used to wearing. This often encourages them to act normally. If you
do have a special outfit that you want them to dress in, then let them wear it
a couple of times before to make sure it fits and is not irritating.

Weren’t these great tips? Were you reading this in a British accent? I always do, but I’m easily humored like that. So seemingly simple, but when I’m trying to get shots of my children, I usually fly into a spazoid frenzy and all method is out the window. A nice little reminder when I want to growl at them to smile for me with clenched teeth and bulging eyes. No judging-I know you can relate. Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Martin! These are simple, tried and true methods that if applied, will be a great tool no matter what the camera.

For more on the technical side of DSLR photography, check out some of Martin’s great posts on the subject, here. You can find more great advice and examples of work on his website, and his Facebook page, so be sure to hop on over and pay him a visit.

Cheers + have an inspired day, everyone!

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Responses to 7 simple tips for better shots of your children

  1. janet says:

    I ALWAYS struggle with this and my children. I feel like I am overwhelmed with how impossible it can be instead of using some good methods to work with them because it can be so frustrating. Thank you for these tips. I can not wait to try some.

  2. Elizabeth Hoyt says:

    Amen to this series. All the way. While I do agree that the right camera is very important, I love the approach this comes from. The simple things is a great place to start for photography and us novices.

  3. Jenna Joy says:

    Yes. TO ALL of this. LOVE.

  4. Greer says:

    Girl! You are right on time! I sent you a request for your photo tricks just a day or so after seeing your weekend Easter pictures. You always posts such amazing pictures. Thanks!
    Now if you can just tell me what to do with that hideous (spelling?) corner fireplace mantle that is a hole to nowhere and every builder in the South has decided to throw in every house since 2005.

  5. Mila says:

    Yes. Love it. :.)

  6. Jon'el says:

    Thanks for the great tips….my dslr decided to stop working two days ago…hoping the battery is just bad, but very doubtful :-(