Get Ready For Your Close Up

Get Ready For Your Close Up

To be a parent is to have a camera roll of endless photos of your adorable tiny human(s). 

But how many of them are frame-worthy? If they’re actually looking at the camera, then it’s a goofy face or food crusted on a cheek or a lovely background featuring – wait for it – garbage cans! And when you opt for a professional family photo session, how do you ensure picture perfect results? 

We sat down with Emily Cummings, a talented photographer who’s been capturing beautiful shots of kids and families for twelve years. She happens to be a former teacher, so it’s no surprise she knows how to redirect major meltdowns into magical moments. (She more recently started doing commercial work and was our go-to for the Starfish Kids photo shoot.)  

Read on for her tips on how to capture better snaps in, well, a snap. 

When the Parent Doubles as the Photographer...

Get Low

When it’s just you and your iPhone, think outside the box. Get eye-level with your kids (it makes for a more impactful photo), then walk in a circle around where they’re playing/sitting to capture different details. You may get a curl of hair that makes your heart melt from a specific angle. 

Carry On

If they’re busy, don’t interrupt them – just capture the authentic moment! One of my favorite shots of my daughter, I was laying underneath where she was swinging into the sun’s rays. I never would have gotten that shot with a professional camera in hand. 

Mind Games

To capture good candids, use a little reverse psychology. If you tell your kiddos not to laugh, you can almost guarantee they’re going to crack up. Or ask who can laugh the loudest, and they’ll all make these awful noises that then dissolve into genuine giggles – candid gold. 

When You Call in a Professional...

Getting Camera Ready

  • Avoid putting everyone in the same colors or matching outfits. Choose a color palette that compliments one another and the setting of the shoot. 
  • Think about where in your house this photo will hang and choose colors that will look good there. 
  • If your style is casual, don’t go super glam, and if fancy is your thing, don’t go super casual. Be you!

Give ‘Em Some Sugar

I’m not above bribery to get the best shot! Pro tip: Use Smarties, which dissolve and won’t leave hands (read: outfits) messy. Whatever you do, don’t offer a full on snack break, as it will totally derail things. 

In Your Element

I love a shoot when a family is doing something that they love together, whether that’s making pancakes on a Saturday morning or taking a stroll through the neighborhood. Something where everyone’s having fun and the memory is something you’ll all love to look back on. 

Tricks Really Are For Kids

I had a shoot where the young little boy just wasn’t having it. No matter what we did, he did not want to be part of the photo session. So I started taking photos of just mom and dad and made it look like we were having so much fun. Worked like a charm – he wanted to join immediately. Sometimes they just have to think it was their own idea!

Emily is an award-winning visual storyteller and photojournalist based in the Greater Chicago area. Experience her work at or follow her on Instagram at: