5 Tips for Better Cell Phone Images of Your Kids


I have people saying to me ALL the time “I wish I had a fancy camera, but all I have is my cell phone”. I always try and stress to them, you don’t NEED a fancy camera, the best camera you have is the one in your hands! Of course there are limitations to what a cell phone camera can do, and I don’t think they’ll ever replace a dSLR and a Photographer with a great eye! BUT I’ve put together a list of five of my best tips for putting that camera to work, and taking better photographs of your children, using what you’ve got.

I used my adorable, four year old niece Harper for this post. Thanks Harper!! For the first two pictures, she was really excited and posing for me. After that, I had to put in some work! Let’s dive right into the tips.

#1. Get Down on Their Level

The thing I see most commonly is most definitely images taken looking down on our children. It’s the most natural thing right? We are tall, they are short. BUT they are short. Getting down on their level, whether that be kneeling in front of them, or laying on the ground, really puts them more in perspective and shows off their little features. You can see in the image above, the before is on the left, and the after is on the right.

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#2. Don’t Forget the Details

Kids are FAST. They talk fast. They move fast. And they grow fast. Odds are you have hundreds of images in your camera roll of their smiling faces. But don’t forget the details! Their little fingers and toes, her ponytail, his snaggle-toothed smile. You will be so grateful you have these images to look back on.

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#3. Photograph Them in Their Element

After the first few shots, Harper was done. She was over it. So I put my phone down and asked if she wanted to swing. Most kids “element” is PLAY. You can force them to take pictures, but they aren’t going to love it and neither are you. Get them in their element and then get the shots that you love!

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#4. Portrait Mode

Most cell phones these days have a new awesome feature known as Portrait Mode (iPhone devices; Selective Focus on Android devices). In it, the phone compresses the background, adding either an in-camera or digital blur to minimize distractions and place the focus on your subject. With our fast-moving subjects, we don’t always get to choose the background (see the buildings and old truck behind Harper?). In the after image, the distractions are still there, but far less noticeable and our eyes go right to her sweet face.

#5. Stop Telling Them to “Say Cheese”!

We are all trained to throw on our best smile and say cheese from an early age, but it legitimately gives the FAKEST reaction from kids. Rather than “cheese”, YOU say a joke. I said “boogers” and Harper laughed, then actually smiled. She’s four, boogers always works. Another good tactic is to get them to tell you a joke. Kids find themselves hilarious, it never fails.



  1. Sometimes our images come out blurry, it’s just the nature of slow lensed cell phones and mega fast kids. I know we usually want to delete them asap. But sometimes these images can quickly become some of our favorites. I caught the above while trying to get a details shot of Harper climbing up the slide. It’s out of focus, and I don’t even care. In that image I FEEL how fast she was moving.

  2. ALL of the above images were taken on an Apple iPhone 7 Plus. They were edited in Adobe Lightroom Mobile CC. If you don’t have this app, I highly recommend it! It’s my absolute go-to for all cell editing. It’s available on both Apple in the App Store and Android in the Play Store for free.

I hope that these tips help you capture more of the look and feel you want for your images. I LOVE pictures of kids so if you put any of these to work and post them to FB, tag me! I’d love to see them. And if you have any tips or tricks of your own, post them in the comments!