Moms Who Know

How to Photograph Your Toddler

10 Ways to Improve Your Photos

I am so honored to be guest posting on Denver Natural Mom! I’m Rachael and I run Rachael Grace Photography, photography for busy young families that want to fall in love with their life.  I have a 3 year old daughter and 10 month old son that are my constant muse.  I’ve been photographing families for almost 10 years and my own kids since the day they were born.  I can tell you that little kids are not the most cooperative subjects!  They have a mind of their own and have no problem instating their own will.  But years of finding ways to get cooperation from little humans has given me ways to capture moments when they’re happening.  I’d love to share with you easy ways to photograph your kid with your phone, because let’s be honest, our phones are the easiest most assessable camera we own. Myself included! 


I heard squeals of delight and laughter coming from the bedroom. I reached for my phone, I knew something adorable was happening and it needed to be documented! I walked over and crouched next to them with camera in hand.  Then said, ‘girls! say cheese!’ A split second they looked up from their game of make believe and flashed beauty queen smiles that only a toddler can, my finger fumbled, my camera refused to take a photo until it was too late.  They had looked away and lost interest in me. 

We all want great smiling photos of our kids looking happy and angelic.  But realistically our kids are not all smiles all the time, even when they’re perfectly happy.  Instead of trying to capture your child by saying ‘cheese!!’ try just take pictures of them being themselves.  Let them play and show you what their world looks like.  Get into their world and photograph them with no strings attached and you just might get the perfect photo. 


When I first starting using my phone to take pictures I held it one handed and away from my body.  I’d always end up with crooked photos or out of focus subjects.  Once I started using both hands and keeping the camera closer to me eye did things improve drastically.  Use your phone like you would an old style point and shoot film camera. 


If you want to take a photo of something close up, get physically closer to your subject.  Zooming in on your phone will only give you grainy and out of focus images.  The further you zoom in, the more even your breath will blur an image.  Think of it like using one the huge telephoto lens you see on the side lines of sports events, they almost always have a tripod or are using their own body as a tripod.  Bottom line, use your feet to zoom.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset


Back in my film days every frame was sacred.  You wanted to be absolutely certain before clicking the shutter because no one wants to pay to develop blurry images.  Now in the digital era it’s easy to take thousands of photos without batting an eye.  So don’t be shy with your phone.  Take three or four quick photos and delete the bad ones later.  I’ll delete bad photos while watching commercials or waiting in line at the grocery store. 


You need light to make a photo.  Taking a photo outside in the middle of the day will be drastically different then trying to take a photo indoors at dusk.  As much as you want to capture a certain moment, think about how much light is available.  Are you inside on a rainy day?  Or outside in the bright sun?  The more light, the less blurry photos you’ll get. IMG_3141


Your phone comes with factory settings, some of which are not your desired settings.  Check out what your settings are and set them to high or best.


Every moment is different and I honestly don’t always know how to photograph something.  Move around and try different angles.  Shoot from above or below.  I love getting down to the child’s eye level and viewing the world from their perspective.  The light will vary depending on your angle so play around and see what works best.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset


All of my phone photos are processed with VSCO app.  It’s free and super easy to use.  There are literally dozens of processing apps, all with their own look and feel.  Processing and applying a filter to your images can take them from plain and boring to vibrant and exciting.  My phone images can’t compete with the professional DSLR, but they’re not meant to.  Having a camera in your back pocket to use at the moments notice is what’s important not the ability to blow an image up to billboard size.  (although I’m guessing in a few years we might be able to take that kind of quality images from a phone!) Other apps to check out are; PicTapGo, Afterlight, & Hipstamatic.  I don’t recommend taking photos in Instagram’s app because it only takes one photo then you have to process it right away.  I suggest, taking a bunch of photos with your regular camera app then later picking one to process.  Don’t miss life happening because you’re busy processing!



I have a 3 year old and 10 month old, so my house is a constant state of chaos and toys left abandoned every where.  But the photos where I can crop out the clutter or find as much as ‘white space’ as possible are almost always a favorite.  Your subject becomes crystal clear and bonus is you look like your house is always clean! 😉


It seems so simple and maybe you even feel like you do hold the phone still, but it can change everything.  Like I already mentioned use two hands, find a solid foundation (stand with both feet planted or sitting), Keep your elbows close to your body.  You can control your phone so much easier with it close to your body then an arms reach out. 

Remember that documenting your days isn’t about getting perfect smiles and Pinterest perfect moments, it’s about being present in your life and photographing moments you never want to forget. 

Want more of Rachael’s tips? Be sure to check out 10 Unique ways to display your photos in cheap and easy ways on her blog. 

photo-display Rachael

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