I really used to struggle when it came to taking pictures of my kiddos in their everyday environments when they were just playing or just hanging out being themselves. I had spent so much time learning, honing my craft, to take these perfect, clean, dreamy portraits. I had really lost my way about doing what I learned photography for – preserving my babes and their life. Like anything else, it took practice and time to LOVE capturing their everyday, their mess, and their chaos – our life. Many of my everyday images definitely still look like snapshots, and I am ok with that. And yes, I still take plenty of the dreamy portraits that catch the glimmer in their eyes, missing teeth and emerging freckles.  But what I have learned was a way to utilize my camera and the settings to preserve some of their moments in more of an upper tier snapshot way. I am happy to share some of these tips with you.

LJP_1 Portrait vs Everyday

For me, when doing the “everyday” shots in in artistic way it means making some intentional choices, and often having a vision for the end result.

Staged Mini Lifestyle Session

Plan an activity they love or would love to do and tell them you are going to take their photos during it. This works for a great bribe effect here. C’mon, you all do it. The event is fun, colorful, and you will get genuine smiles and interactions. You are able to choose the location, the time, the light, everything put in your optimal favor. And you will get some great childhood shots. Think baking, painting, chalk drawing, playing in the rain, running with balloons, wagons, pets…you get the idea – your own themed mini session for your kiddos. Just remember to keep it more on the lifestyle end keep them in their regular clothes, try not to make things too PERFECT.


Organic Moments

Now, many of us don’t have the time or the resources to do that very often. Sometimes we want to capture simpler things, more organic moments.

Sometimes you work with what you have, where THEY are.


I find that getting detail shots, shooting wide open and intentionally focusing on a single aspect in the frame helps elevate what might be a snapshot into something more artistic. Something about the intentional blur of the background just seems to make it more special.



Leading lines and items that frame your subject is an intentional choice which leads to great rewards. It provides the viewer balance and a focal point.


Things in the Frame

Think about what is in the frame and what isn’t. In this first image I wanted to compose the photo to include as much as of their play area as possible so we would remember this game they always played. In the second shot I took many of them sitting and laughing but decided to run and get these boots that were off to the side to place IN the frame; it added so much.

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Experiment with different compositions, angles, settings, exposures, move your body to get a unique view.. I also like the perspective of stepping away and illustrating that you are merely an observer into their world of play. Utilize shooting down at their level, through a doorway, up-close, far away.

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The last tip is that utilizing light can make any photo more magical. If you know your child is going to do something, or play with something etc., steer them in front of some beautiful light that you are able to play with and watch the image change from a snapshot to a treasure. Work on seeing and finding the light in your home.  Use the shadows, use the backlight, sidelight…it will all add strength and dimension to elevate your photo. These two photos are a perfect example.  This is the same task, different end of the table, with a change in the direction I shot; what a world of difference!!!!

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Always review your images to see what you are liking, what is working, and then do your best to fine-tune your vision.  Likely you will find a pleasing image that is more than just a snapshot!

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