Tips & Tricks: Learn How to Take Great Family Pictures!

It’s that time of year when many of us reach for our cameras, summer vacations and lot’s of time with the kids. A famous quote says, “Never work with children or animals”, but we have three talented women who wouldn’t have it any other way. We asked our three favourite childrens photographers to give us some insight and tips to improve our family photos.

Picture by Rebecca Zeller.

We would love to get your top three advice when taking pictures of kids/family?

Rebecca Zeller: 1. Get the more formal portraits first. Don't wait until the end of an event. Cooperation levels devolve really quickly and when it's too late, it's way too late. 2. Give kids something to do with their hands - even something as simple as putting their hands in their pockets, grabbing their skirt, holding a flower. It's amazing how it channels some of that energy that would otherwise send them running in the opposite direction. 3. Act out what you want them to do instead of just telling them. Kids are generally much better imitators than listeners.

Helena Krekling: 1. Be on the same level as the kids, they can often be a little shy but as long as they are occupied with something, it get's much easier. 2. Have the camera available all the time, it’s the everyday moments that often turns out to be the greatest pictures. 3. Communication is key, talk with the kids as much as possible while taking pictures; in that way you will take away the focus of the camera.

Emily Ulmer: When shooting kids, the one thing to never do is tell them, "smile at the camera". Because then you get a child with a forced and silly looking smile. You want them to feel comfortable and almost forget that you're taking pictures. That's when you get the most natural and interesting images. Do engage kids and families in casual conversation to relax them so that the photographs look unforced.

Picture by Emily Ulmer (this one and the one above).

What kind of equipment do you need?

Emily Ulmer: I always say that it doesn't matter if you use your iPhone or a fancy professional digital SLR. It's not about the equipment, it's about capturing the moment. And that can capture a moment with any type of camera. So really, any kind of camera works!

Helena Krekling: I’m mostly using my camera, I'm a sucker for natural light and love to play around with that. I really like the freedom I have when I'm only using my camera and don’t have to think about any other equipment, in that way I can focus on the composition and communication with the one I'm photographing.

Rebecca Zeller: You need whatever camera you have with you. Don't NOT take the shot because you would have rather gotten it on a different camera. The best camera is always the one you have on you at that moment.

Picture by Helena Krekling.

Picture by Helena Krekling.

Picture by Emily Ulmer.

Can you say something about composition and light?

Helena Krekling: When it comes to composition one of my main things is to be on the same level as the kids. I’m all into natural light, even though the lightning might be bad I’m always able to find a way to make it look great. It took some time to learn how to use the light in the right way. The morning- and evening light is the most beautiful, especially in the summer when the sun is up most of the time. 


Rebecca Zeller: An awareness of the light is key to making the best possible photos. Light changes everything in photos. Experiment and find out how to make the most out of different lighting situations. It's a game changer once you figure that out.

Emily Ulmer: Good light and composition is very important. Light is generally best in the morning or the late afternoon. If you're shooting indoors, try and find the room with the most natural light, which is generally by a window. For outdoor shots, try and avoid direct sunlight as it's usually too harsh. As for composition, it's nice to experiment a bit and try different set-ups. Have your family gathered around each other, maybe playing a game together. That can make for unique and natural looking photographs.

Picture by Rebecca Zeller.

Picture by Rebecca Zeller.

Ok, so you have a bunch of great pictures, now what? What is the easiest way for me to make them even better?


Helena Krekling: I always try to make sure that the lightning is as close to perfect as possible, if not, I will just adjust them a little bit in Photoshop, mainly brightness, contrast and highlights, and sometimes even the colour temperature. Except from that I don’t do much, I like it when the pictures looks natural and not to much edited.

Rebecca Zeller: PRINT THEM!!! Don't let them die on your computer. See them printed. Make albums. It's too easy not to. Seeing them printed will also help you see them in a more critical light. It will make you a better photographer.

Emily Ulmer: If you're shooting digital, adjusting the colours in something like Photoshop is a nice thing to do.

Picture by Helena Krekling.

Picture by Emily Ulmer.

Picture by Rebecca Zeller.

Why do you love taking pictures of kids?


Rebecca Zeller: I love taking photos of kids because they are not self-conscious the way adults are. They don't feel fat. They don't think they have a bad side. They don't assume they have a double chin. They don't wish they'd gotten highlights. They just are. and it is so refreshing and wonderful and inspiring.

Emily Ulmer: There is something so special and magical about photographing kids. You have to connect with them in order to make interesting and honest images. I love showing up to my shoots, not knowing what I will get from them. Evert shoot is an adventure! Never did I think I would have made kids my focus when I became a photographer many moons ago. But it is the most challenging and rewarding work I have ever done.

Helena Krekling: I’ve always loved to take pictures of kids, they are so natural and I love how they just doesn’t really care about the camera and do their own thing, in that way you can easily catch their personality.

Picture by Rebecca Zeller.

How do you get kids into taking photos?

Rebecca Zeller: Give them their own camera. Download their photos to the computer and print them. It is as easy as that. They need the tangible results to make it real for them.

Picture by Helena Krekling.

These talented woman can all be booked for portrait sessions, check out their work here:

Rebecca Zeller: Klick here

Emily Ulmer: Klick here

Helena Krekling: Klick here