Valuable Tips to Capture the Perfect Portrait for your Family

You deserve to have great photos and video to look back on and cherish as your family grows up. I’m teaming up with Canon again to help you shoot for greatness and learn how to capture some awesome moments with your family. This month we’re talking about taking great portraits.

Every year something I like to do with my kids is plan a photo session with them highlighting some of the topics they’re interested in. Last year my daughter was into space and she got a telescope for her birthday so we did pictures outside showcasing that. We also do birthday video interviews and sometimes I’ll edit those pictures in.

The power of a child's imagination. Encouraging them to play outside and have fun.

This year I took thousands of photographs and there’s no way I could narrow down favorites because I love so many for entirely different reasons. But today I’m going to show you some of my favorite portrait photos I took this year, and share some tips for taking great portraits of your kids.

Use a large aperture (small f-stop number)

For portraits you usually want the focus to be on your subject and your background to be out of focus. You can achieve this a few different ways.

    1. 1. By using a long portrait lens such as the EF 135mm lens, or the EF 100mm lens.
    2. 2. By zooming in as far as you can go on a zoom lens such as the EF-S 18-135mm lens.
    3. 3. By using a fast lens with a wide aperture such as the EF 50mm 1.8, the EF 85mm 1.8.

Aren’t sure which lens would work best for you? Here’s a post on choosing the best camera lens. If you aren’t comfortable changing all of your settings you can set your camera to aperture priority mode (AV mode), then just change the f-stop to be the smallest it can be, and let your camera choose the rest of the settings for you. Here’s a tutorial I shared on learning different helpful camera settings.

Canon EOS Rebel t7i tutorial how to use AV mode

I tend to go the wide open aperture route for my portrait shots. I love using my 50mm lens for portraits indoors because it works well even if there isn’t a lot of light in the room. Outdoors I like using my longer lenses for portraits. Here are a couple of examples:

children's portrait tutorial

EF 50mm f/1.4 lens taken at f/1.6; ISO 4000; shutter speed 1/800

EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS; shot at f/2.8; ISO 2500; shutter speed 1/2000

Find the light

Another important aspect of taking portraits is lighting. There are so many tools and ways to get the lighting just right from reflectors and flashes, to just taking advantage of good window light.

When I’m taking portraits I’m always aware of where the light is coming from. I am usually going off natural light in my home. My kids are quick and usually on the move but we have a pretty good amount of light through most of our home. I try to position myself between the window and my subject to get a nice front light shining on them. If I position myself parallel to the window light and my kiddo I’ll get a nice side light to the photo.

Using front light you’ll get pretty shots their sparkling eyes and pretty catch lights (the white lights in their eyes reflecting the light). With sidelight you can get a fun dramatic look with a shadow across one side of their face. Here are a couple examples of the difference. Including one of the last times I saw my daughter play dress up *tear*.

Front light

Front light

Side light

Side light

Side light with lamp light

Posed vs candid?

When my kids were tiny and barely mobile I adored dressing my little ones up for some adorable posed photoshoots. Every now and then I have fun negotiating with them to take some posed shots together, but usually I go for the candids.

My husband likes to pick my kids up and get everyone to smile at the camera, where as I love taking pictures when they least expected it when they’re playing in the moment. I treasure both kinds of photos and both have a place in our family photo books. Here are examples of each I took this year with my husband and our kids.



Portraits are a great way to capture emotion in faces, and those sweet features on your children as they grow up. If you haven’t already consider planning a mini portrait session with your little one to mark how they look and act in 2017. Then continue the tradition next year and beyond. And for more tips on photographing your children check out my photography course: Child’s Play Simple Tips for Photographing Children on sale for just $29.99!

From birthdays to family vacations, to holidays and more, I’ve teamed up with Canon again this year to share how we capture the moments we cherish most. I’m also dishing out tips to help you better photograph your special moments with your family. Shout out to my favorite camera brand for sponsoring this series.


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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget


I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.

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