Photography for Mommies | Candid Portraits 101


Hi! I’m Kimberly Bee (kb) from Kimberly Jarman Studios, a couture photography boutique specializing in portraits and weddings. I’m honored to be guest blogging on such a wonderful online resource for mamas just like myself! The Kimberly Jarman team will take turns popping in every once in awhile with tips to help you take better picture s of your children. Our goal is to inspire you to capture those chubby cheeks, pouty faces, pillow fights, and snuggly hugs… all the candid in-between moments and special milestones you’ll treasure forever.

Every mom wants to document the milestones and growth of their child with beautiful candid portraits. When I first started getting into photography, I would take my kids in for professional portraits a couple times per year, but the rest of the time I was on my own. Being a photography fanatic and not wanting to let even a new freckle go undocumented, a couple times per year was never enough. The problem I would have when attempting my own portraits at home was the (sometimes vast) discrepancy between what I would see in front of me and the actual outcome of the images. Here are some starter tips that will hopefully help minimize that discrepancy for you, if you happen to relate =)…

{1} Block out 15-20 minutes – and accept my daughter’s teacher’s words of wisdom: “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit”. I know you want the shot, and you want your child or children to cooperate, but if you’re going to make a habit of practicing and taking portraits of your kiddos on a regular basis, you’ll want to make each session brief and happy. Arm yourself with patience, a good sense of humor, well fed and rested children, and a no-rush attitude.

{2} Find an open shady spot in your yard or at the park with an uncluttered background. An open shady spot meaning the kind of light you would find under a covered patio… the light should be bright and even without any direct sunlight touching the area around where your child is sitting or standing. The best time of day to take pictures outside is in the afternoon as the sun is setting.

{3} Never say cheese. I rarely tell my kids to look and smile at the camera. Make up stories starring your child, tell jokes, sing songs, make tooting sounds, ask questions like “what does a cow say?”, but never say “cheeese”. Okay, I’ve been caught saying “cheesebooger”, but only as a last resort. I can’t ever remember any jokes for the life of me, so at one point I printed out my favorite knock-knock jokes and one-liners to have on hand in case I drew a blank. Speaking of cheesy, but it works! It’s hard to keep track of your camera settings, the lighting, background, a moving subject, etc. while you’re trying to be witty or belt out Old McDonald, but you’ll be so much happier with the genuine connection you’ll see staring back at you in the final print.

{4} Think “storyboard”. It goes without saying that not EVERY picture needs to show your child looking at the camera. In fact, sometimes it tells a better story when you capture their finger playing with the pebble near their feet as they’re listening to your made up fairytale and animal sound imitations. Back it up and capture the large tree they’re sitting beneath, and then come in close to capture their expression as you do “this little piggy”. I love to scrapbook or print a storyboard for each of my mini-sessions, and my favorites are always the combination of story-telling details.

In a nutshell:

{1} Find open shade with bright even lighting (no direct sunlight) and turn off your flash. Make sure the background is clean and uncluttered.
{2} Make it short and sweet.
{3} Never say cheese
{4}Think “storyboard”
…And don’t forget to capture the everyday in-between moments – regardless of the lighting or background (more on this coming soon!).

These are simple tips, but if it helps even one mommy out there we’re happy campers =). Until next time!

Love, kb

Kimberly Jarman Studios is a team of creative photographers and thinkers specializing in family portraits, weddings, and photography workshops. Visit the blog for recent work and updates.


  1. Kimberly (Bee): I am a big fan of yours. I check your website once in a while. Up until now, I didn’t know about Kimberly Jarman Studios. Those tips were great. Thank you.

    • Ooh, THANKS sweet May!!! Kimberly Jarman Studios is pretty much The Mothership in photography world (if you ask me!) and I’m ecstatic to be a new part of the team! I hope you’re having a fabulous day and taking lots of cute pictures =)). Love, Kimberly

  2. […] located in downtown Mesa. We are so excited to be back guest blogging for Scottsdale Mom’s Blog. Last time we blogged you met KB, our associate photographer. She’s amazing and really talked about some […]

Comments are closed.