A photographer shares her go-to tricks for taking gorgeous photos of kids.

Let’s face it – nobody looks back on their childhood and wishes they had LESS photos of themselves growing up. Quite the opposite.

Take it from me, the second-born, who occupies only 10 per cent of the family albums while my first-born older brother has a bajillion photos capturing his every milestone. (I’m not bitter, I swear!)

To all the mamas out there who aren’t ashamed to whip out their phones or cameras the second their kid does something remotely cute, here are the dos and don’ts of photographing them to ensure your photos cut through the baby spam noise.

Image: Gemma Peanut.

The dos

Do use bribery

I hear it’s Parenting 101 that bribing children is frowned upon. But who cares when it means you get your prized piece on the mantel, right?

In the world of photography, it is more than okay to dangle a few choccies (or carobs, for the vegans) to get your kid in those insanely cute overalls they hate or to draw out those ear-to-ear grins.

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Do use the art of distraction

Kids will 100 per cent do the opposite of what you want as soon as they realise they’re about to be paparazzi-d. Props are your friends, people - distract your kids in a way that still gets them looking towards the barrel of your lens. Hint: Blowing bubbles, waving balloons or enlisting hand puppets are fair game.

Do play dress ups

Do dress your kid in the latest micro-fashion trends because years later, it’ll make for a hilarious and terrifically cringe-y trip down memory lane. Take it from an '80s baby who rocked out in fluro and scrunchies.

But all jokes aside, if you’re after those whimsical, timeless and professional-looking photos, you can’t go wrong with soft neutral tones that match your environment.

Image: Gemma Peanut

The Don'ts

Don’t just shoot from the same angle

So you’ve found that unicorn moment where your kid has decided to calm down and be still. Huzzah! This is YOUR MOMENT. But don’t get carried away and just shoot, shoot, shoot the same photo 10 million times.

Get down at their level for a snap then shoot from a high angle, take a wide shot that captures their surroundings, but also don’t be afraid to zoom right into the little details - basically, get the full gamut of angles because who the heck knows when this rare opportunity will present itself again?

Image: Gemma Peanut.

Don’t force it

"And on 3, say ‘cheese’!"

We all remember school photo days when we were forced to sit with our feet together, hands clasped on our laps and say, “cheese!” And we all remember how NOT fun it was. It won’t make for a good photograph and it won’t be a memory worth treasuring. Instead, do create a fun, playful and comfortable situation where your kid can really shine and enjoy themselves. The goal is to capture those delicious candid moments for keeps.


Don’t make empty promises

“We’re almost done!"

So we like bribes props, but we DON’T like empty promises. Don’t be saying “just one more photo!” to incite good behaviour because you just haven’t got the shot yet. Kids know when you’re faking it. They know that “we’re almost there” means we’re nowhere close and “we’re almost done” means at least another half hour. They may only have four words in their vocabulary but their little expectations still deserve to be managed.

Sometimes the bloopers are the best part. (Image: Gemma Peanut)

Don’t delete the bloopers

You are bound to get a few shots where your kid pulls a less-than-darling face. Perhaps they’ve shoved a finger up the nostril or eye rolling like a threenager - whatever it is, DO NOT DELETE!

As much as we all love when your Insta-grid looks like a Pinterest board of motherhood, we also love real talk. Life ain’t picture-perfect, but there’s something perfect about sharing the less than perfect, you follow me?

Plus, when the time comes for 18th and 21st birthdays, these bloopers become the ultimate crowd-pleasers and the pats on your back for a great speech will definitely make up for those daggers from your now-grown-up-kid.

And lastly, here’s the master rule. Just think KISS - keep it simple, stupid! Don’t get yourself all up in a tizzy over the outfits and settings. If you’re both comfortable and having a good time, and you keep clicking away, you’ll be hard-pressed to NOT get a fabulous frame-worthy shot.

Gemma Peanut is a professional shutterbug and story teller. Armed with her camera, her untamed heart and a boundlessly messy imagination. If you’d like to keep on learning about photography, check out Photography 101 with Gemma Peanut where manual mode photography is broken down into human-speak across several beautifully presented video tutorials + the super-active and exclusive Shutterbug Club.