How to take better photos of your kids using your phone!

How to take better photos of your kids using your phone!

Ever wondered if you can take really good photos of your kids using your mobile phone? Do you think you take pretty good photos but need some tips to get them even better? Here are some tips by award-winning photographer John Rowell.

This is a guest post by John Rowell – scientist, photographer, father, and explorer who you can find over at www.john-rowell.com

I’ve been a photographer for 8 years; the last 4 of which being almost exclusively documenting Indian wildlife. This was challenging enough, chasing tigers, finding critically endangered tree frogs at night and photographing them, and even tracking down a black panther. But it was not until 27th June 2015, that I faced my biggest photo challenge; the day our son was born!

Now despite all my camera and studio set-up, most pics of our son were taken with a smartphone (iPhone). Why? Well, that’s simple. Kids are unpredictable, so having everything at hand at the right moment is not always easy. As much as I would like to have my camera all the time, I don’t! We do, however, almost always have our smartphone at hand, and the best camera is the camera you have.

Composition is key

Composition turns an image into a story, and is the fundamental basis behind a fantastic photograph. This is why ‘phoneography’ is so successful, as composition has nothing to do with the quality of the camera, but how you use it. So, here are some key tips that will improve your composition and thus improve your images! 🙂

Avoid having your subject in the center!

There are many mathematical reasons why having your subject off-centre is best, but I won’t go into that. The bottom line is having your little one to one side or another almost always looks better. There are, however, always exceptions!

john rowell tips for taking photos of kids with a smart phone

Open spaces

Following on from not having your kid in the centre, is which side (left or right) to place them. If your little one is running right to left, take a picture with plenty of room on the left hand side of your image. This trick effectively makes it looks like your little one is running towards something. john rowell tips for taking photos of kids with a smart phone

Leading lines

Our eyes naturally follow lines in an image, so use this in your image to draw the viewer’s attention to whatever you want.
john rowell tips for taking photos of kids with a smart phone

Get to eye level

This is a general trick I use for wildlife, but I find it works for our little animals too. Use your camera at their level; it will give you a more engaging angle and you will see the world as they would too.
john rowell tips for taking photos of kids with a smart phone

Get the action

Getting your little one to pose is not always easy, and often they are not still. So here are some tips for getting those “action shots” with your cameraphone.

Freeze the action

If you want to freeze the action you will need to be in bright light. The more light, the faster the shutter speed, and the sharper the action will be frozen. So if you want to catch your little one mid jump… you will need a lot of light!
john rowell tips for taking photos of kids with a smart phone

Blur the action

Most of the time we don’t have good light, so just go with it, and be happy with the blur. Use the blur to show the motion. This can be done by keeping your camera still relative to your kid’s face. Because of the low light, your phone’s shutter will be slow making anything moving all blurry. So, if your kid is throwing sand at you because you have been annoying him with iPhone pics all day, you catch the blur of the hand, while the face stays nice and sharp(ish). The same technique can be used if your little one is running, move your phone along with the little athlete, and the background will blur while your little one is nice and sharp.
john rowell tips for taking photos of kids with a smart phone

Burst mode

It is tough to get the apex of the jump, or the precise moment you want, so use burst mode on your phone if you have it, Sure you might take 20 pics, but you will probably get at least 1 at the right time! You can delete the others later if you need to make space.

Think ahead

Even with the best DSLR, if you are not in the right place at the right time, your images will not be the best. So you need to think ahead. Get in a position that will have the composition and background you want, where you predict the action to take place and start shooting before the critical moment!

Getting the most out of the images you take

Taking a good image is the main part of the story, but processing it is the other. As much as I hate to admit it, but adding a Instagram filter to an average image can make it more interesting, sigh! But just don’t go crazy. Maybe stick with one type of filter to give your images some homogeneity. I use the App Snapseed to process my images in-phone. If you are interested in a small “how-to” post on this, e-mail me, and if I have enough interest, I’ll write something! (john@john-rowell.com)

The bottom line

Don’t worry about getting perfect images, focus on capturing the moment. The smile, the glee, the confusion… this type of photography, to me as a father, is about preserving the memory of that time, so make sure you have fun!

Good luck and please share your smart phone action pics! 🙂

Follow John!
Instagram : john.rowell
Twitter : @RowellJP
Facebook : John Peter Rowell
See more of John’s photography on his webpage : www.john-rowell.com (he takes AMAZING photos – don’t miss his site!)

This post contains an affiliate link, which if you follow it and purchase, provides me with a penny or two, and won’t change your experience or cost you any extra at all.



  1. Samantha
    November 8, 2016 / 3:31 pm

    These are great tips, and I’ll definitely start using them. I’ve been taking fewer pictures of my kids lately because the twins are two and they just don’t hold still anymore. But I’ll be happy to try these tips. 🙂 Thank you!

  2. moderatemum
    November 8, 2016 / 8:17 pm

    Oooh love the blur tip, I’m ready for tomorrow 🙂

  3. November 9, 2016 / 9:37 pm

    Great tips for sure! I love the light=action shot tip. I have to remember that. I love using the burst mode as well.

  4. November 10, 2016 / 9:34 am

    Thanks for the comments, I’m glad you found it useful! 🙂

  5. November 10, 2016 / 4:31 pm

    Great advice for any photos actually, but children’s photos are a pleasure to share! Pinning.

  6. December 14, 2016 / 8:37 pm


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