Moomah the Magazine
TOOLBOX: Photographing Your Child

TOOLBOX: Photographing Your Child

What better gift can mom receive than the perfect picture of her babies? It’s time to move on from those unfortunate mall-shots that left us in tears after all of the hair combing, uncomfortable clothing and awkward smiling. The fabulous Rachel McGinn knows just the way to set the scene and get the perfect shot of your sweet little guys. In this Toolbox, she gives us some tips on how to find inspiration, work with lighting, and get those faces to light up and smile.


Your children are the most special people, so why not make the photo equally as special? Create a look that reflects who they are. Do your kids love to play outside? Do they have a certain room in the house that’s just for them? Maybe they are the happiest when they are at the beach, or by a playground?

CHOOSE a setting that ensures they are comfortable, while creating the perfect backdrop for the shot.

LOOK through kids catalogs and online magazines for inspiration and scenarios. My favorites are Mini Boden, Johnnie B, Land of Nod, Crewcuts, Olive Juice and the online publication- Smallable Magazine. To me the French are NEVER wrong when it comes to styling. Their ideas are reachable, simple, chic and effortless.

2. Style Your Kids

CHOOSE the wardrobe yourself, keeping them in mind. Make sure you are choosing an outfit they will enjoy wearing, and one that they will be comfortable in, too.

PLAY with color and use your surroundings to reflect your choices. I love tone on tone. If you are shooting against a pink wall pick shades of rose and red. If the clothing is loaded with pattern and color, make sure what’s behind them is simple.


Like most everything, natural is always better and the same goes for lighting photographs. Besides for the fact that no one likes the constant flash blinding their eyes, your kids will also give you a better shot when they don't realize their photograph is being taken. Turning the flash off can avoid those forced smiles, and can allow you to capture those in-the-moment smiles instead.

EXAMINE the room that you are in for the best sunlight.

USE a doll as a prop to find where the light hits best. Trying to work this out with your kids is sure to use up all of their attention and cause them to switch off when it's time to get snap-happy. Work out the best light before you bring them into the scene. The shorter you work with them, the better the result!

LOOK for even light, as shadows can be tricky if you are just starting. The perfect light for me is the type you would see on an overcast day.


I recently shot a line of children's clothing using models aged 8 and under. We propped a birthday party with balloons and party games. Fun was had by all! Their laughter and smiles were real and made for the perfect shot. If your child loves their play kitchen, has a favorite toy, or gets really excited when eating ice cream, let them! When all else fails...potty talk. Guaranteed laughter!


There are so many great tools for editing photos. I love photoshop for its filters. It’s also nice to have the option of changing something to black and white, it can make all the difference. 

If you're taking photos on your iPhone, there are tons of great editing apps that allow you to adjust contrast, tone and more.
Some good apps available for download at the App Store: Adobe Photoshop Touch, Camera Bag, Cross Process, Snap Seed, and Photogene.

I am a huge fan of Pinhole Press, Artifact Uprising and Printstagram for making books, prints and other treasures from my photos. Priceless.

Tips To Try

Photographs don't always have to be as simple as you imagine. It is so easy to play around with composition, with color, and with objects in addition to the subject.

Pairing photos: People and objects

I love pairing people and objects. It makes for an interesting composition, and is a great way to tell a story about the subject. You can really pair anything if there is a common thread of color, or a special relationship with the person and the object. For example... a child in a pink dress paired along side her favorite cupcake iced to perfection!

The power of Black & White

Black and white photos are timeless. When color is desaturated, facial features and expressions just pop, leaving an emotion that color can't capture. Digital photography allows us to play with this after taking the photo- even simple editing programs will allow you do to this. 

Using Props

Props add an element of personalization. Chances are the doll or toy truck the child might be holding will be long gone five years from now. This is my way of "storing" favorite toys or artwork. It's also a subtle way of distracting your subject. Some of my favorite shots are taken when children are looking away, or down at an object.

Posted in: Discover & Learn   

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Recent Comments

nadya said…

Love this and love Rachel McGinn! I just mentioned her the other day.

Kerry said…

great article. thanks

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