5 Tips for Capturing WHO Your Kids Are

Updated: October 3, 2014 Mpix Support Guest Post, Photos

5 Tips for Capturing WHO Your Children Are

Wildly passionate about her family, Ashley Ann Campbell captures the beautiful details of her life through a collection of powerful photos and words called Under the Sycamore. If you’re looking to take incredible photos like the ones you see below, register for SnapShop, a beginners phone photography course taught by Ashley, beginning on October 5th.

I pick up my camera every day for a whole host of reasons. It is my tool for artistic expression. It is a creative outlet. It captures the things my family does. Most importantly, it captures the WHO of those that I love. Part of the joy of photography is the ability to capture something beyond just the way someone looks. Below are five things I keep in mind when trying to capture more than just what my kids look like; they are ways to help me capture the WHO of my kids.

#1 – Everyday life is ‘photo-worthy’

Life can feel busy, messy and chaotic at times – not very ‘photo worthy’. As you begin looking at daily life through the lens of your camera you might be surprised by the beauty that comes with the ordinary. With kids, temptation lurks to keep your camera tucked away when toys are on the floor or laundry is piled up, but remember that is life – and there is beauty in it. It is also in this everyday beauty that kids really shine.

A while back we were in a season where my oldest daughter couldn’t bear to be away from her baby sister. One day, while the littlest was napping, I found my oldest daughter sitting beside her. She had made a little bag of snacks and was just watching her sister nap. Despite being in the midst of a chaotic, messy season there was beauty to be seen in the moment and in WHO my daughter was – a big sister smitten with her baby sister.


#2 – Let your camera be an observer, not an intruder

Capturing WHO kids are often involves being prepared to photograph a moment without interrupting the moment. Let your camera observe and record moments without interfering with whatever is happening in that moment.

After a hike, I challenged my oldest boys to jump from one bench to the other. Before my oldest would consider jumping, he started measuring out the distance on the ground and making calculations regarding the likelihood of a successful jump. As I was snapping a shot of him doing his measuring, his younger brother just went for it – throwing caution to the wind. By observing, I was able to create an image that reflects WHO my boys are in a beautifully accurate way.


#3 – Recognize their uniqueness and celebrate them

Every child (and adult) is gloriously different. Pay attention to those things that set your child apart and be mindful of capturing it with your camera.

My daughter LOVES to sing and dance.  I don’t need to ask her to sing or dance, it is what she naturally does all day long. Both shots below were taken quickly with my iPhone. You don’t need a fancy camera to capture WHO your kids are.


#4 – Pay attention to their details

So much of life happens in the details. The big picture (the graduate holding her diploma or the four year old blowing out his birthday candles) most of us do a pretty good job capturing. However, the details often get overlooked. To be honest, some of life’s greatest details are seen as annoyances at the time. To accurately tell the story of your kids – you need to start capturing their details.

A detail shot of my daughter, who believes there is no such things as too much pink, and the tiny hand of a girl that insisted on having her nails painted different colors, are little details I don’t want to forget. Both images were shot with my iPhone and these details tell so much about the WHO of my daughters.


#5 – Capture them in context of relationships

Various aspects of a child’s personality come out in the context of different relationships. Be mindful to capture your children within the contexts of the relationships most dear to them – family and friends.


Whether you are shooting with a phone or a more intricate camera, you have the ability to capture WHO your kids are in a way that not even the best professional photographer can. You know their little details, their stories and the things that bring that special twinkle to their eyes. You are the photographer most qualified to capture WHO they are because you know WHO they are!

For photography tips from Ashley, check out Improving Phone Photography and Phone Photography Tips for Kids

19 Responses to “5 Tips for Capturing WHO Your Kids Are”

  1. October 3, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    Cell phone cameras are okay but I see many parents using it as their primary camera. In 10, 15, 20 years their kids are going to ask why they have such crappy pictures. I use the iPhone as a “2nd shooter” only. Also, the importance of printing pictures should be emphasized. Either prints or a book. But in 20 years, who knows where digital files will be or what format we will be using. Thanks for a good read and tips.

    • October 5, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      I see your point in regards to phone pictures. What about some of the more advanced ones, though? Some of them have a higher mp capability than many DSLRs. Just curious about your opinion. 🙂

      • October 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

        It’s all about optics and the camera’s sensor size. The cell phone camera with 36 mega pix has a sensor that is very small. Even a DSLR with 12 megapixels and a 100 dollar-50mm lens will be better. The sensor size is just better for details. Don’t get me wrong though, there has been big advances in the cell phone camera but I wouldn’t trust anything but outdoor photos with them, where the lighting is good.

        • October 14, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

          D, I get what you’re saying about relying on your phone’s camera to pull off physically what it can’t. But I think a good picture has much more to do with the intrinsic quality of the image, and not necessarily the size of my sensor. I’ve seen plenty of crappy photos taken with a full-frame DSLR, MFT, and even Hassleblad’s. I think this is part of Ashley’s point, right? What makes a good photo is partially subjective – but anyone can learn how to properly light and expose a subject, it’s capturing something in the moment that can’t be replicated. If a handy device like an iPhone can steal these moments more successfully in a given situation, then I’m leaving my L series glass in the bag.

          • October 14, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

            I agree with you. Best camera is the one in your hands. I am just saying that I don’t think parents should rely solely on their phone camera. They do capture some things well, but also fail miserably at others (indoors mainly).

          • November 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

            Very true. A good many family albums are filled with pictures taken on a 110. It’s not a Leica by any means, but what makes it special are the subjects and the context.

  2. October 3, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    We’ll said!! We have 5 kids and the chaos seems overwhelming most days so I rarely pull out my camera. This article just changed all that. THANK YOU!!

  3. October 3, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    Ashley!! I knew you when you just started to pick up your camera and show your unbelievable talent and gifting you have in telling a story with the results. I am so proud of you and your family and the things you are doing to invest in others behind and in front of the lens.. well done:)

  4. October 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Can you recommend a good starter camera that is easy to use for a beginner? I have a digital (automatic everything) camera….but I love cameras that blur out the background and really focus on the person. Is this something you can get in a say, $200-300 camera with lens settings?

    • October 4, 2014 at 2:18 am #

      Canon, Nikon both make entry level dslr’s which are good (under 500). Also, Sony, Samsung, Olympus make smaller mirrorless camera systems that have interchangeable lenses. When you talk about blurring backgrounds (bokeh), you can most easily achieve the affect with a fixed lens, also called a prime lens (meaning no zoom). If you google “bokeh” you find some tutorials and the essentials. Lately it seems Pinterest has excellent sources to get you going in the right direction. Welcome to the world of photography, it’s addicting.

      • October 4, 2014 at 2:22 am #

        I’m a canon guy…I would recommend the canon sl1 (comes with a kit lens) and a 50mm f1.8 lens. But like I said above, Nikon and everyone else make an equivalent. Good luck.

    • Daryl Peguese October 4, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      Check out craigslist or camera shops for used DSLR’s. I picked up a Nikon D3100 for $250 that was in excellent condition. Be sure to do some research though before you buy and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the condition. Good luck to you.

  5. Susan Bolling October 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Perfect advice. Simply perfect. Thank you!

  6. October 4, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    I am feeling regret because my kids are 13 and 15 and I feel like I have missed a lot. But your article has inspired me to not miss another second. One setback of being the photographer is that in 15 years or so people will ask your children, where was your mother all those years? Don’t forget to get in the shot sometimes.

  7. photography basics February 27, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about beginners. Regards


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