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Capturing Candid Photos of Your Child: 7 Easy Tips & Examples

Candid photo of a baby playing with a toy

Candid photos have a magic of their own. Whenever I photograph my son Nikita, those unscripted moments shine brightest. They’re worlds apart from posed shots.

In this article, not only will I share 7 easy and actionable tips on how to capture beautiful candid photos of your child, but I’ll also recommend gear to help you capture your child’s genuine moments with brilliance.

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How to Take Beautiful Candid Photos of Your Child

#1. Opt for Natural Light

Natural light adds a genuine warmth to photos that artificial lighting often can’t replicate. Whenever possible, photograph your child near windows or outdoors, especially during the golden hour (an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset).

Here’s a good example of a photo I took of my son, Nikita, the other day. As you can see in the photo, the right side of Nikita’s face is shaded because there was a roof above him that blocked the natural light. On the other hand, the left side of his face is illuminated by the natural light coming from outside. This gives the photo a three-dimensional look. You can achieve the same result by taking photos indoors next to a window.

Candid portrait photo of my son Nikita
Shot with Sony 7C & Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master II lens. Settings: ISO 320, f/2.8, 1/125sec.

Technical Suggestion: Use a wider aperture (like f/2.8) to let more light in. This also blurs the background, making your child the focal point in the photo. This is especially handy if you are taking photos of your child in crowded places, such as a playground. By setting a low aperture, you will be able to create a beautiful bokeh effect and isolate your child from distracting backgrounds.

#2. Be Ready and Patient

The essence of candid photography lies in its spontaneity. This often means waiting for the right moment and being ready to capture it when it arrives. Ensure your camera is always within arm’s reach, and don’t get disheartened if the perfect shot doesn’t happen immediately. Just like fishing, sometimes you’ll wait for hours for that one prized catch.

In one of the recent photos I took of my son Nikita, he was engrossed in the park, playing with his plane toy. Observing him, I noticed the potential of capturing a layered, deep shot. After a bit of waiting and several launches, I seized a magical moment: the plane, unfocused, in the foreground, with Nikita, the central figure, standing behind, adding depth and a focal point to the frame.

Photo of a child playing with a toy plane
Shot with Sony 7C & Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master II lens. Settings: ISO 320, f/2.8, 1/125sec.

Technical Tips: Such unexpected moments demand quick reflexes. Setting your camera to burst mode helps ensure you don’t miss the fleeting perfect shot. It allows you to take several photos in quick succession, giving you a better chance of capturing the ideal moment. Also, a higher shutter speed, perhaps 1/250 or faster, ensures your subject remains sharp and avoids potential blur, especially when motion is involved.

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#3. Play with Perspective

One of the fundamental mistakes new photographers often make is taking photos of their children from a standard standing position. While this might be convenient, it rarely leads to compelling photos. Instead, aim to be on the same eye level as your child. This might mean sitting down, crouching, or even lying on the ground. By aligning with their perspective, you create a more intimate and relatable frame, transforming an ordinary shot into a heartfelt capture.

Photo of my son Nikita playing with a toy car
Shot with Sony A7III & Tamron 28-75mm f 2.8. Settings: ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/200sec.

I’d also encourage you to experiment with unconventional angles: shoot from below, from above, or any angle that feels out of the ordinary. On a visit to Jurmala by the Baltic Sea, Nikita was amusing himself on a bench. Instead of the usual approach, I climbed onto the bench and captured him from above. The elevated perspective, though simple, added an unexpected twist to the scene.

photo of nikita playing
Shot with Fujifilm X100V. Settings: ISO 320, f/5.6, 1/2000sec.

Sidenote: Note that in the photo above, I set my shutter speed to 1/2000 sec. I decided to set it this high because it was a very sunny day. As a result, I had to adjust both my shutter speed and aperture to higher values to ensure the image was properly exposed and not overexposed.

Technical Tips: Perspective isn’t just about positioning; it’s also about lens choice for child and family photography. Wide-angle lenses, for example, have a tendency to distort images, especially when the subject is close. 

While distortion might sound negative, when used creatively, it can add an artistic touch to portraits. When photographing children up close with a wide-angle lens, you can amplify their expressions and surroundings, giving the image a whimsical feel.

#4. Candid Doesn’t Mean Unaware

A common misconception is that for a photo to be considered “candid,” the subject must be entirely unaware of the camera. In reality, candid photos often capture natural, unposed moments, even if the subject is aware they’re being photographed. The key is capturing genuine emotion, regardless of awareness.

One technique to get a natural look, even when your child knows you’re taking their picture, is to engage them in an activity. When they’re engrossed, simply call out their name. The resulting photo captures the immediate and genuine reaction.

For instance, on a day at the playground, I aimed to capture Nikita’s portrait. Setting myself at a distance, I zoomed in, ensuring I had the right exposure settings in place. Then, calling out to him, I quickly clicked the shutter. Using my camera’s burst mode ensured multiple shots were taken in quick succession, increasing the chances of landing that perfect, genuine reaction. The photo I got was one of authentic surprise and joy, a candid moment even with his knowledge of the camera.

Portrait phot of my son Nikita at a playground
Shot with Sony 7C & Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master II lens. Settings: ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/1600sec.

Technical Tip: Remember, when aiming for such shots, it’s essential to be prepared ahead of time. Ensure your exposure settings are right, and make use of burst mode. This allows for a series of rapid shots, maximizing the likelihood of capturing that brief, genuine emotion.

#5. Embrace Movement

When it comes to candid child photography, there’s a dynamism that’s beautifully captured in action shots. Some of my favorite candid photos of Nikita come from moments when he’s immersed in lively activities, be it running with friends, playing with his toys, or gliding on his scooter. These instances, brimming with energy and emotion, often yield the most authentic captures.

Photo of a child playing with the sand
Shot with Sony A7III & Tamron 28-75mm f 2.8. Settings: ISO 100, f/5.0, 1/400sec.

While my Fujifilm x100v is my go-to for daily snaps, for more active moments, I lean toward a camera equipped with a zoom lens (Sony 7C with Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master II lens). This allows me to be at a distance, ensuring Nikita remains uninhibited, and still get those close-up shots filled with detail and emotion.

A vivid memory that exemplifies this was during one of Nikita’s tennis practices. Stationed afar, he was unaware I was capturing his moves. This distance allowed me to snapshot his deep concentration and the raw emotions that come with the sport.

Nikita playing tennis
Shot with Sony 7C & Sony 24-70 2.8 G Master II lens. Settings: ISO 1250, f/2.8, 1/500sec.

However, the indoor training setup presented lighting challenges – flat, directional lights from above, casting unflattering shadows. To combat this, I opted for monochrome conversions for the images and enhanced the contrast in post-production, adding depth and drama to the shots.

Technical Tip: When photographing moving subjects, a faster shutter speed (like 1/500s or higher) can help freeze the action, ensuring sharp images. If there’s not enough light, set your aperture settings to the minimum possible value (like f/2.8 or lower if you have a fast camera lens).

#6. The Power of Backgrounds

Backgrounds can either elevate your photograph or diminish its impact. While sometimes a lively backdrop can be intentional and add to the story, more often than not, a cluttered background can detract from the main subject, reducing the photo’s emotional pull.

I vividly recall a photograph I took of Nikita amidst a flurry of ducks. Converted to black and white, it was intended to showcase the chaos and liveliness of the scene.

Portrait photo of a small kid with a lot of ducks at the back
Shot with Fujifilm X100V. Settings: ISO 125, f/2.0, 1/800sec.

While this particular photograph had its charm, it also made evident the power of backgrounds. The multitude of ducks, though intentional in this instance, could easily have been a distraction in any other frame. In most scenarios, I find simplicity in the backdrop brings out the essence of the moment, placing Nikita as the undoubted focal point in the frame.

For those instances when you’re in a bustling environment and simplifying the background isn’t an option, a technical workaround is to set your aperture to its widest (smallest f-number). This throws the background into a pleasant blur, known as ‘bokeh’, allowing your subject to stand out crisply against an indistinct backdrop.


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#7. Gear Matters, but Emotion Matters Most

Photography equipment undoubtedly plays a crucial role in capturing moments. Yet, it’s essential to remember that the most potent images are powered by emotion, not megapixels or lens optics. The gear you use should be a tool that aids in encapsulating those genuine feelings and not an obstacle.

I find comfort in the compactness and charm of my Fujifilm X100V, a mirrorless gem with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens. Its retro design, lightweight nature, and impeccable quality make it my daily partner for capturing the spontaneous emotions and portraits of my loved ones. It’s as if the camera is an extension of my vision.


However, every piece of equipment has its strengths and limitations. The fixed lens on my Fujifilm often means I’m shuffling around to frame my shots just right. This constant movement can sometimes be a barrier when trying to capture candid moments discreetly. 

For parents aiming to dive deeper into candid photography, considering a camera with interchangeable lenses might be a wise choice. 

A zoom lens, particularly in the range of 20-70mm or 28-75mm for full-frame cameras, offers remarkable versatility. Whether you’re capturing an up-close expression or a candid moment from afar, this range tends to have you covered.

My Fujifilm X100V and Sony 7C mirrorless cameras.
My Fujifilm X100V and Sony 7C mirrorless cameras.

Technical Tip: Investing in a prime lens, like a 50mm, can also be a boon for portraits, rendering beautifully blurred backgrounds and sharp subjects. Yet, always remember, gear is essential, but the emotion and story you’re aiming to tell with your photo hold paramount importance.

Photo Gear Recommendations for Capturing Beautiful Candid Photos of Your Child

Below are few cameras and lenses that I recommend for capturing beautiful children photos. Some of these cameras I’ve used personally, such as Sony A6600, and others I have selected based on a lot of positive feedbacks I have seen on the Amazon and YouTube.

Recommended Cameras for Candid Child Photography

Canon EOS M50 Mark II

Amazon rating: 4.7 out of 5, based on 1725 individual reviews

Sony Alpha A6600

Amazon rating: 4.7 out of 5, based on 534 individual reviews

Fujifilm XT30 II

Amazon rating: 4.5 out of 5, based on 104 individual reviews

Recommended Lenses for Candid Child Photography

Canon EF-M 18-150 mm f/3.5-6.3 is STM Lens

Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5, based on 295 individual reviews

Sony E 16–55mm F2.8 G APS-C Wide-angle Zoom G Lens

Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5, based on 110 individual reviews

Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

Amazon rating: 4.7 out of 5, based on 324 individual reviews

In Conclusion

Candid child photography is a dance between anticipation and spontaneity. While gear and techniques play their part, the true essence of a great candid photo lies in the genuine emotions it captures. 

As parents, we’re privy to a plethora of heartwarming, unscripted moments with our children. Whether it’s with the latest mirrorless camera or an iPhone, the key is to be present and ready to capture these fleeting memories. 

Remember, while my journey with Nikita offers specific instances and guidance, your photographic journey with your child will be unique. Embrace it, and let each click not just capture an image, but a beautiful memory. 

Happy shooting!


Child Photography for Parents: Capture Your Child’s Journey

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Aleksandrs Karevs

Aleksandrs Karevs

Hi, my name is Aleksandrs and I am a full-stack digital marketer passionate about digital photography. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V. Read full story here.

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Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author


Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

Aleksandrs Karevs OHMYCAMERA Founder & Author


Hi, my name is Aleksandr and I am a full-stack digital marketer from Riga, Latvia. In 2018 I became obsessed with photography and decided to create this blog to share my knowledge about both photography and marketing. In my free time, I enjoy taking photos with my everyday companion – FUJIFILM X100V.

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