Getting great pics of your kids: Part II

Happy Monday, friends! I always expect to get a lot done over the weekend, but then when the weekend arrives, all I want to do is play with my kids and enjoy time with my husband. Are you the same way? That’s exactly what happened to me over the weekend, and with the birthday parties we attended, there was no time for sewing or blogging.

That’s ok, though, ’cause LIFE is more important! Right?

But speaking of life and sewing and blogging… Today kicks off Kids Clothes Week for Spring! Are you joining in? If so, what will you be sewing? I’ve participated for the last two KCWs, but this year I plan on taking a more relaxed approach. I’ll sew a few patterns and blog about it when I can, but mostly I just look forward to see what everyone else is working on! I LOVE KCW!

In Friday’s post I promised to finish up my series on How to Get Great Pictures of Your Kids this week. I had planned to post about it today and tomorrow, but I’m just going to finish up today and leave the rest of the week for kids clothes sewing. Maybe some long-awaited tutorials will show up here? I better get to work!

So without further ado, here are Parts II and II of…

This is a casual mini-series discussing what I’ve learned in the last year of blogging and photographing my children. Photography is a new art to me! I’m still learning oh-so-much and I don’t want you to think I’m an expert on this stuff! These are suggestions resulting from what I have learned photographing my own children. They may not work on your kids…but then again, they might!

Don’t ask your kids to smile. I know this one is reeeeally counter-intuitive, but every time I ask my kids to smile I get a fake grin that makes them look constipated or something. You know what I’m talking about! How many fake grins have we all seen in family pictures? Indeed, I want my kids to smile in pictures (or at least not look tortured), but THE WORST thing I can do is force them to look happy. The key is this: your kids will look happy in a photograph if they are happy in the moment. Try the following:

  • Try to make them laugh by telling jokes. During this shoot we told the same joke over and over again. My son’s face went from glowering to glowing all at once. (See example below)
  • Don’t tell them to smile! This interrupts the moment. Keep up the banter of conversation.
  • If he is already doing something he enjoys, don’t interrupt the moment. Enter into the moment and capture the joy.

Left: grumpy face when mom keeps telling her what to do
Middle: she gives me a fake smile
Right: genuine smile while laughing at me be silly/tell a joke

Don’t make them stand still. This is tough for me since it’s almost impossible to get pictures of moving kids! However, when I ask my kids to stay still they freeze and stand there like awkward robots. This isn’t what I want either! A little bit of natural movement is good for photographing outfits, because kids clothes look best when you can see the model in action. Try doing the following to get a little action, but not too much, from your kids:
  • Point out something interesting on the ground.
  • Point out something interesting in the sky.
  • Ask your child to tell you about something he or she sees in the distance.
  • Get photos from behind by saying, “what do you see behind you?” 
  • Ask the child to hand you something.
  • Give the child something to play with.
Herringbone shorts in motion
    See the herringbone surf shorts above? They look so good with Hudson in motion! Belwo is a picture of him standing absolutely still so I can “get a good picture of the shorts.” They look ok in this picture, but have no life:

    Herringbone shorts absolutely still. They look ok here, but don’t communicate any “spark” or “life.”

    Abby and her Peplum Drummer Jacket in motion

    Take a moment to read back over my first post on Capturing them Comfortable. An uncomfortable kid takes an uncomfortable picture. It’s so true, isn’t it?

    Lastly, I firmly believe that even the most well-sewn outfit won’t look as good on an unhappy model. Outfits that shine are worn by children that shine!

      I hope this little mini series was helpful to those of you who love taking pictures of your kids! Please, share your tips in the comments below so we can all benefit, or email me if you have any questions. Thanks for reading, friends!

      As I mentioned in my last post, all the pictures above were taken by my brother, Kyle Cowgill, the talent behind this hilarious channel. He took these with a Canon T3i, and I corralled the kids into taking good pictures. It was a team effort!


      1. says

        Hey, great tips, Caila – your kids have natural spark and they make it look so easy to capture the joy! They will undoubtedly grow up entirely comfortable with cameras and film and focus.