For most parents & kids, this is the last week of school and it is officially the beginning of summer vacation! The first few weeks are amazing! You get to sleep in and there’s no schedules, but then as the summer weeks go by, your kids start to get a little antsy and the restlessness begins.

As a mom of 5, I can relate when my kids are driving me up the wall. They are full of energy and just need to run, jump, play and be crazy! And what better place to do that then at the neighbourhood park.

I have to admit, I am not always loving the idea of going to the park, but instead imagine a nice quiet summer afternoon with my tea and a good book. But, during the day, that’s nearly impossible, and considering they are only little once, I’ve found ways to make it more enjoyable for the kids and myself too!

When I picked up my first DSLR camera nine years ago, I wanted to learn everything about it and practice every chance I had!  At the time, my girls were young and we spent a LOT of time at the park in order for me to keep my sanity with 3 kids under the age 4.

And let me tell you- this is the best practice for taking better pictures and getting to know your camera and here’s why!

1.)  Kids are not still subjects- so you need to work quick if you want that shot!
Beginner- Practice Focus on a moving subject. Aim for the eyes to start! What is the purpose to your image?  Be aware of your foreground and background and use it to frame your subject. 


More Advanced– If you are feeling like you want to get a little fancy then move your focus point around (most DSLR cameras are capable of moving the focal point around- see your manual)

Instead of focusing in just the middle, try moving it to the right or left, up or down. By increasing or decreasing the aperture (F Stop) will determine how shallow your depth of field is.  You may have to change your settings to Manual Selection vs. AutoFocus Point Selection.  Check your manual to how to do this.

F Stop Setting for this image was F/4.5 (1/320 Shutter ISO 200)

via :

2.)  Kids are not always in the Best Light- So what do you do?

*Problem Solve
*Adapt to the Situation & Get Creative

These are the 3 Biggest keys to successful photos!

If it’s too dark, and you can’t see your subjects face- then do a silhouette or try a different angle.

3.) They don’t listen when you want them to look! 

I can attest to this! Have you ever been at a family gathering trying to round everyone up AND get them all to look at the camera for the group picture? It can be like herding cats! Sometimes it’s just better to get the shot then nothing at all. With kids this is especially true, so don’t stress about the perfect smile or perfect pose. Let them have fun and you’ll get some super cute ones of them just doing their thing!



4.) Children don’t know limits- neither should you when thinking about your pictures

Think outside the box! For example, if you don’t have enough light, then find some. The cement/gravel is great for reflecting light in to face. Light in the eyes can bring out emotion to the image as well as beautiful eye color. Also a white wall is fantastic! Place your subject the opposite to a white wall and you have one big reflector.

In the shot above, I just used the available light coming from the side.  This particular light worked well, because the sun was low enough in the sky.  On a bright day, mid-afternoon, there would be shadows beneath her eyes, so that would be a case where standing on cement is ideal as the light would reflect from the cement and fill in the shadows beneath the eyes. 


If color just isn’t cutting it, and you want to give the image a bit more impact- try it as a Black & White image instead!  Not all images will work as black and white, but some are just perfect and also gets rid of the bright park colors if you decide you want to have it on display in your home.


5.) Children are persistent- Don’t get this shot the first time, just keep at it!
Have you ever known kids to take no for an answer the first time? They are always finding ways around getting around it- negotiating and thinking about how to get what they want. Or sometimes resorting to crying or throwing themselves on the ground in a tantrum…now, I don’t suggest doing that, haha! But what I do suggest is to learn from our kids and be persistent and not taking no for an answer. Find a different perspective or angle to make that image great!  There’s always a way- get creative!

Composition Tips:
Work with the shapes in your shot and frame your subject, for example circles or squares.  Draw the eye in to wear you want to have the attention.

Get LOW! You will look a little crazy and yes you will get a few odd looks from people wondering, but in the end those people don’t matter, and pictures of my kids do. I will have some shots of my kids from their perspective. Kids are short and exploring the world from their angel opens up a lot more possibilities.


Jenn’s little boy David & Zac joined us for some park pictures-  Note to Self**Boys seem a lot more adventurous and have no fear** As a mom of 5 girls, I’m not sure how you moms of boys do it. I had mini heart attacks every time they jumped off the high equipment or were perched on the highest point!

Photo Credit to Jennifer Yanos

6.) Just like Kids- Break the Rules a little bit and Just have fun!
Sometimes, like me, you may overthink the shot (settings, lines, composition, etc.) and then the moment is over. So if its a cute expression or something you don’t want to miss, then just get it. It may not be perfect, but it will be something you want to remember. The more pictures you take and practice you get it in, the rest comes more naturally. Settings will start to just make sense, composition and lines will be on point and your lighting will just work.

So get out and take pictures this summer! Both you and your kids will enjoy the time together AND you’ll have some great memories to keep too!

Happy Summer Everyone!


And of course, all good things must come to an end….Leaving the park generally looks like this.  Any other moms relate?

Leave a Comment with some of YOUR park experiences or tips.  We would love to hear from you!

Photo Credit to Jennifer Yanos for the behind the scenes images 

Thanks Jenn!