6 Simple Tips for Photographing the Little Moments

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things." Robert Brault

As a photographer I know the importance of capturing the little moments in life...but sometimes as I mom I can take those little moments for granted. The day to day of raising children can be repetitive and exhausting and sometimes I'm just too busy or too tired to pull out my camera. However I know that time flies and children grow and change so quickly and one day I'll look back and wonder where my babies went. It is incredibly important that we not only document the big milestones and birthday celebrations (those are important too) but that we also take the time to preserve those little everyday moments and the tiny details that can easily go unnoticed...for it is these moments, these details, that truly tell our story. It is in this spirit that I put together these simple tips that will hopefully help you to be more purposeful when it come to photographing your children during everyday living.

#1 Photograph them being themselves, just doing what they do. It doesn't have to be something amazing. It can be very simple...in fact it should be simple. Maybe your child has a certain toy that she drags out and plays with every single day. Or maybe it's the way she sits in her chair in the morning with her feet crossed while eating breakfast. One day you'll forget these things unless you have them frozen in time in pictures. My youngest daughter, Ella, starts her morning by picking out her princess gown for the day. And then she picks out a crown and shoes. It's not uncommon to find her room littered with various princess accessories (and she has a lot of them)!! Then she'll proceed to drag out her books and toys.

#2 Step back and get the big picture. Photograph your child from far away so you can capture their surroundings. This will help tell the story of this moment. Use elements in the foreground to help frame your subject. This could actually be a separate tip but I think they work well together. I love how the blurred-out doorway in this image gives the feeling that you are sneaking a glimpse of a secret moment! Oftentimes if you photograph your child from a distance they won't even notice your (or your camera's) presence and you'll get a more authentic image of them being themselves.

#3 Change up your angle. Don't just shoot from one spot. Shoot from above, shoot from below. Back up, get in close. A variation of angles will give you a different perspective of the moment. These shots will be great for creating a cluster of images or a framed collage.

#4 Photograph the details. Tiny fingers and toes. Their favorite toys and books close up. The way her hair curls up at her shoulders. Whatever it might be. All of these elements are significant and should be photographed as an important part of the scene. These detail images are great for creating an album that really does tell a story.

#5 Step away from auto and turn off the flash. Get to know your camera's capabilities and learn how to expose an image manually using ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. There is a plethora of free information on the internet on this subject. Use it! You can do a Google search using keywords such as "blog shooting in manual" that will produce many links to exposure tips! This is a great resource! Make use of that beautiful natural light. Sometimes a flash might be necessary but any time you can photograph your children without it, do it! Natural light is so much more, well, natural. There is a soft innocence about natural light that harsh flash lighting just can't mimic. You will thank me later for making you learn your camera :)

#6 Repeat often. Keep that camera handy. Consider a Project 52 photo challenge where you try to capture a series of images each week of the year. One day you'll be so thankful that you took the time to document those sticky fingers and messy bedroom floors where imagination ran wild :)


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You're exactly right - I spend WAY too much time getting 'the perfect shot' and forget that when I look back, it will be the not-so-perfect ones I'll love the most. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Holly, I know exactly what you mean! I am so guilty of that myself, always trying to make things perfect. However when I go through old photos I'm amazed at how much I love the imperfect images that I totally forgot about. They mean the most and are so precious to me :) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I just love this post!! I'm trying sooo hard to try and shoot in manual mode. However this is my issue. I think the correct word i'm looking for is there is too much "noise" in my pictures. They look great from far away, but as soon as I zoom in at all, it's all speckly and not clear. This is the part that frustrates me! haha Any tips? By the way, I love love love your blog!!

    1. Johannah, that's great that you are trying to learn to shoot in manual! If there is a lot of grain (noise) in you image it is most likely b/c it is underexposed. Some cameras handle sensitivity to light better than others and in low light situations it can get tricky. Try bumping your ISO setting to a higher number so that your camera will be more sensitive to the light that is available. Again, this can depend on your camera model as to what it is capable of. Typically the more expensive the camera the higher the ISO capability, the more sensitive to light it is. My Nikon d700 can shoot at much higher ISO settings without producing noise as compared to my Nikon d90. Try playing with that setting and see what happens. You may have to slow your shutter speed a bit as well to allow more light in...but don't slow it below 80 to 100 especially when photographing children b/c then you will get motion blur. It's a balancing act that comes with lost of practice. Another thing that will help is having a lens that has wider apertures (small f-stop #s). A 50 1.8 is a great prime lens to start with! It's pretty inexpensive. I hope this helps. Feel free to ask any other questions. Thanks for stopping by and saying hello!!


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