A photo studio may be one of the best photography settings to capture special moments with kids- they can provide quirky props, a cute set design, weather-proof, and have a formal light set up by professional photographers- but the huge drawback is – it is also very controlled and limited. Besides, despite all these things a photo studio could offer, shouldn’t “capturing the moment” live to its name?

In photo studios, the theme, costumes, and props that are provided to the children might have already been used previously by other kids. The photographers may have already done the set-up too many times that the photoshoot seems routine so the resulting final photos have become quite ordinary too.

The good thing with children’s photography, there is so much that the world offers that could be put to use. The most important thing you have to do is scout the best photography settings for their active nature. Keep in mind that the point of having an outdoor photoshoot of children is to creatively capture how they look amidst natural yet beautiful backgrounds and document their memorable actions in clear still images.


To find the best photography settings, first, you will need to come up with a theme for the children’s photos you want. We can’t have children dressed in their Sunday’s best, standing in the middle of a wet marsh. You would want every detail to match the concept that you have in mind. Your theme sets the mood of the photos and will help you prepare the relevant props you could use for the photoshoot later.

You could never go wrong with outdoor photography since there’s a variety of locations you could choose from- a huge oak tree by the lake, a field of white Daisies near the forest, seashore with a colony of gulls, a small carnival with rides, urban streets, or even a simple backyard with a few touch-ups added would do.

It could be difficult to come up with fresh ideas when you’ve seen the places near you a hundred times. Take a moment therefore, to take a different route than usual to see places you may have not noticed in the past.

Take the time to know the children before starting the session. Befriend them so they will lose the “be afraid of the stranger” thing. Identify the things they like and the ones they don’t. What makes this specific toy special? Do they like playing with bubbles? Would they want to have their stuffed animal with them in the photo? Are they afraid of the swing in the park? What are their favorite colors? Knowing these things and incorporating them in the photoshoot makes the experience even more personal to them.



One of the most important things to look for in finding the best photography settings is a reliable natural light. In child photography, children tend to be more active, so you would need even light distribution if ever they move around a lot. Let the kids bask in the right amount of sunlight.

A shoot under the sun emphasizes the vibrant colors of the surroundings that make the photos pop but avoid having the shoot at noontime when the sun is harsh and is directly above their heads. You do not want them to be drenched in their sweat being under the sun for too long. Also know that overexposure is difficult to deal with, so adjustments will be necessary to capture the adequate amount of light.

In varied locations, a warm glow of natural light makes photos look a lot better, but you could also make use of shadows as a feature in the photos. Shadows give depth to a person or object, minimizing the subject from looking flat. You may use a reflector for backlight if you must.

Always remember to never, ever take a photo that is against the light (unless you are taking silhouette shots during sunsets). Some open shade areas will look awesome in pictures too, but the right positioning of the subject is needed to do the trick. As a general rule, minimize taking photos in heavily shaded areas that will make the pictures dark overall.

Besides the weather, timing is a factor that affects the lighting of photos. Make sure to know the right timing for the shoot. If you want warm, and realistic photos, taking them at the golden hour- after sunrise and before sunset is the best way to go.


Look at the color match of the children’s clothes and the background. The right amount of color contrast is essential to the overall outcome of the photos.

Green, leafy environments are good for the eyes- even better for children to play around and get comfortable in. Mountains, flower gardens, nature parks, open fields that are lined with trees, and other green places match well with earth tones- brown, red, white and yellow colored outfits. Make sure to find other colored details in the photo to avoid making it plain- a picnic basket, a bunch of colorful flowers, checkered mats, bubbles, or even colorful balloons.

Beaches and lakes under a calm blue sky exudes a peaceful location shot especially with a young girl in a long, flowy dress is seen playing barefoot on the shorelines. Let the children have fun playing with the sand on their toes or in their hands. The ocean has a wide range of colors from deep blue to turquoise, with the contrast of the color of the sand. Scarlet red, coral, yellow, white, orange and soft shades of green are perfect for these locations.

Clothing choices are especially important in a photoshoot during Autumn. The color range of the leaves during that season is superb. Dead leaves on the ground are brown, yellow and vivid red, while some bushes are a vibrant green. The falling leaves are picturesque on its own, particularly, if there’s a body of water or a mountain visible nearby.

Similar to the green locations, this scene compliments neutral earthy tones such as burgundy, yellow, forest green, pumpkin, teal, and white. Colored crates, barrels, blankets, bikes, smoke, and books are some of the most generic props that compliment a photography location in fall.

Crowd density

The number of people in the location could affect the result of the photo session. Especially with children as the subject, adults roaming the area could overpower the photo, instead of giving the spotlight to the children. Also, the anxiety of trying to strike a pose in front of many people is real. Little children could feel awkward with tall figures looming around them.

To capture more magical, candid moments, the children must be familiar with the place and it must be spacious enough for them to play enthusiastically. This releases the tension on their nerves making the shoot fun while making the photos stunningly natural.

Safety is also an issue if you have a photoshoot with children in crowded places. The more people there are, the more likely unplanned events could happen- small accidents, children running around then getting lost, and accidentally getting pushed over by the crowd. It is best to consider safety first before anything else.

A Place with value

Lastly, since the outdoors has a lot to offer, the best location would be at a place with a personal connection to the children. It is relatively easy to find a spot that looks good on camera, but a scene with special meaning makes photos come to life. The place mentioned by the teacher’s story-telling in class, the adventure park on their wish list, their favorite playground, the beach, lake, or prairies near their grandparents house. These and many other places that can arouse their interests are most likely to produce more intimate, meaningful photos.

Always remember, choosing the best photography settings are very important but they are secondary to how a photographer has mastered the skill of using the full potential of his camera, and of having a very rich imagination and a creative eye for details.