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I love candid photos! There’s a time and place for posed portraits, but the candid, “real” photos are my favorite. Want some tips on eliminating the cheese factor and getting some authentic, candid photos? Read on for some tips on how to take candid photos of your kids.

Tips For Candid Pictures - Snap Happy Mom for Yellow Bliss RoadHow to take candid photos

Stop asking your child to say cheese!

Asking your children to say “cheese” is not a tradition you have to embrace! Most moms quickly recognize this is the fastest way to bring out the fake smiles andawkward poses, and outright refusals to cooperate.

I think that candid photos should embrace the unique personality of your child. That might mean you get some silly faces or tongues sticking out, but those are just fine if they are true to your child’s unique personality!

If you’re hoping for some natural smiles, try crazy sound effects, making them laugh, or play peekaboo with young children. If there are several children in the shot, you can ask them to tell each other a joke or whisper a secret to each other. You won’t get a natural smile by asking them for it- you have to encourage it out of them!


Photograph everyday situations.

There are tons of “regular” things that happen in our everyday lives: school pickup, grocery shopping, walking to the park, soccer practice, bedtime routines, and more. These moments may seem ordinary, but these are the candid moments that ought to be documented! Your chances for authentic, candid photos are much higher when it’s not an official photo shoot.

Make it a point to pull out your camera and take pictures of the type of things you do everyday. Think about the documenting the details and recording routines. You don’t have to be dressed perfectly or have a perfectly clean house- just take those pictures that show real life!

Use the camera you have when you’re out.

Although it would be great if we could carry around a super nice camera everywhere you go, I do encourage people to use their camera phones for pictures on the go. Sometimes it’s just not feasible as a mom to manage a camera bag with a diaper bag, multiple children, and a stroller!

So if you have a good camera on your smart phone, use it! The nice thing is you probably always have it in your pocket, everywhere you go. If you’re feeling brave, or have help with the children, then absolutely bring your big camera… but feel free to resort to your smartphone on other days.


  • Keep your big camera handy at home.

Home is the best place to take candid pictures – everyone is comfortable and relaxed. It’s a great opportunity to take candid pictures that are more creative than just a snapshot with your phone.

The trick is that when that beautiful moment happens, you have to be ready to shoot right then. If your big-girl camera is stashed away in a closet, and needs a new memory card and its battery charged… Well, you’re never going to use it for candid photos then, are you?

Your camera should be kept somewhere at home that it easily available. Make sure it’s safe, but that you can get to it quickly. Yes, your camera phone can work in a pinch, but if you want to learn to use your big camera, you’re going to have to push yourself and make it available!


  • Stop making a big deal out of taking pictures.

The bigger deal you make out of taking pictures, the less natural they will be. You don’t have to make your kids to smile, or even ask them to look at you. Some of the most candid and authentic pictures are taken when your kids don’t even know you are there.

Instead of announcing “photo time!” and getting immediate moans and groans, just pull it out for a quick shot. It’s fine if your kids look up and see you, but you don’t have to ask them to smile. Just document what they are doing, with whatever expressions they have.

  • Know your camera enough to get the shot.

Lastly, the key to good candid photos is being able to capture that amazing moment when it happens. You need to be able to shoot fast and shoot well! Learn about your camera so you’re not fiddling with it instead of shooting. You won’t get a chance to fix exposure, so you need to know enough about your camera so that the picture is clear and well-exposed. Shoot without flash so you don’t distract your subject. Put your camera in continuous mode or burst mode to make sure you get that perfect expression before it’s gone. These little things will make your photos much better, without requiring you to learn everything about your camera.

You can do it! Hopefully these tips have helped you learn how to take candid photos. The candid photos that show your everyday life will be pictures you cherish. You have the opportunity to record what your life really looks like, without cheesy poses or forced smiles. And you can do it!



Meg is passionate about teaching moms how to use their own cameras! She believes families should have professional photos taken each year, but wants mothers to have the skills and confidence to photograph the candid moments that happen all year long! Meg's blog, Snap Happy Mom, offers tips and tutorials for all the things moms want to know about photography, including how to get your children to smile naturally, and how to choose a camera and learn how to use it. Meg has three adorable children at home, and works as a photographer in Arizona.

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  1. Meg I love the tips! I agree that the “cheese” is the main problem when taking candid photos. On a side note I believe that if you have patience, you can get plenty of candid shots, what do you think?