Momtography: Getting Better Photos of Your Favorite Subjects


Disclaimer :: Christina White of Life in Design Photography wrote this post. Life in Design Photography is FWMB’s choice photographer for all our events — and she just so happens to photograph several of our team members’ families. We love her!

When I had my first child a mere 13 years ago, options were limited when it came to cameras. Digital cameras were new to the world. I distinctly remember buying a top-of-the-line option for about $450. It was bulky, fragile, and could only manage to take the photo five seconds after I pressed the shutter button. My first (and second) son’s first memory book is comprised almost completely of blurry photos that captured the moments just after they did something amazing or adorable.

Thankfully technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, and we always have powerful, slim, and quick cameras in our hands. This truly is a wonderful time to capture daily memories of our children, and hopefully the following tips will help you to capture the best photo with every click.

cell phone photographySet your focus point. Have you ever taken a picture you thought would be wonderful, but your child isn’t the one in focus? Sometimes our cameras get confused and focus on everything but what we’re hoping to photograph. Solve this problem by setting your focus point. This is as easy as touching your phone screen right where you see your intended subject. When you touch your subject, you’re letting your phone know exactly what you’re aiming to photograph. After that one touch, your phone will do all the work, ensuring that your subject is properly exposed and in focus.

Perfect your light. If you’ve ever hired a natural light photographer, you were probably scheduled during “the best light of the day.” This is usually early in the morning, or right before the sun sets when it’s not too bright outside. Sadly, we can’t actually plan all of our family outings during those hours. While cell phones do a decent job of achieving proper lighting in a photo, being light aware will still improve your photo tenfold. Try the following techniques to be light aware:

  1. Always try to move your subject into a solid shaded area. This means putting them in the shadow of a wall, building, umbrella, or even human shield! Try not to use trees as your shade as often dappled light will shine through casting odd, bright spots on faces.
  2. Make sure that the light is to the side, or behind your subject. Facing a person, particularly a child, right in front of the light will only result in squinty eyes and strained expressions. Placing the sun behind your subject, and setting your focus point will allow the camera to set the exposure and keep the squinty eyes at bay.
  3. Remember that indoor, darker areas are usually more difficult for your camera to read. The focus may be harder to achieve, and the camera may be slower than it would be in lighter conditions. If possible, place your subject underneath a light or near a window. (Selfie hint: Window light is my absolute favorite! Blemishes and under eye circles disappear!) Setting your focus point on the lightest shade of your subject is a good technique to get your camera to “see” what it’s trying to photograph and brighten things accordingly. And, if all else fails, and your subject is close enough, you can use your on-camera flash.

Get on their level. If you’re photographing a child, get down on his or her level before taking the shot. This keeps kiddos from having to lift their faces up to look at you, which means you’re capturing their features in a truer, more flattering way. Plus, it makes the photo look more interactive as the photo’s line of sight aligns with the child’s.

Go candid. If you’re anything like me you want to photograph your child in front of every new setting and during every single activity they perform. Unfortunately for us, children don’t seem too keen on stopping their activity to give us a photo op. Thankfully candid photos are just as good, if not better in the long run.

Try skipping the regular cheese face and make the picture into a game. Ask them to see if they are taller than the statue. Ask them to find you the brightest flower. Ask them to make silly faces in front of the hilarious sign. Then capture the moment their faces show true joy, curiosity, or yes, sometimes still annoyance.

You can also plan out the perfect “candid” shot. For example, the next time you know your child is going to build an epic Lego structure, bring the Legos over to the window and make sure their chair is facing the window light. Wait until he or she is really into the project, find your perfect angle and snap away. You will have set up the idea lighting situation, and will come away with a photo of your kiddo looking truly in his or her element.  

Switch to black and white. We’ve all been in a situation where our kids are making the cutest face ever. Sadly, the background is busy and their clothes don’t match because it’s the only thing they would wear! Plus, it’s bright out and there is no shade to be found. That’s when switching your camera over to black and white is a lifesaver. Black and white is classic, and it often works great in tough light situations. It also hides the fact that your precious angel is wearing the least matching colors available in the closet.

Happy snapping fellow Momtographers! Have fun exploring and capturing all those picture-perfect moments.

Christina WhiteChristina White is the proud mother of four smart, crazy fun boys. While she’s not playing taxi for those boys, she runs her own photography business, Life in Design Photography, specializing in photographing all things family. 


  1. Totally loved these hints. One of my kids hates having his picture taken and gives me the most pained smile. I’m going to work on setting up better candid shots for him.


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