If you do anything for your photography, I hope it’s figuring out how to capture joy and emotion in your photos. Without emotion, your photos will lack life and won’t provide you with the memories you are trying to protect. 


Let me start with a little story. Before I really learned much about photography I would just photograph things I thought I was supposed to. When my first son was born, I made sure to take pictures of him at the hospital, him eating his first solid food, and other little milestone moments. Although these are fun memories, these are not photos I look back at very often. As I challenged my photography and started thinking of it more as a way to tell a story of our life, my photos starting evoking emotion in me when I looked back at them. I could feel the moment. What changed? My photos now had the emotion in them. I wasn’t just photographing for the sake of taking a picture, I was capturing the moment, feelings and all.


In this post you will learn how to capture joy and emotion to create photographs you LOVE to look at, hang on your walls, and share with family and friends.


7 Actionable Tips to Capture Joy and Emotion in Your Photos


1. Expression over perfection

The whole goal in capturing great photos should be getting the expression over getting perfection. I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up my camera because the lighting was perfect and took a few photos of my kids. But these photos were lifeless. Just because the lighting was great and my composition was good, doesn’t mean my photos will be anything special. The thing that will make your photo memorable to you is the expressions you capture and the memory it creates. Your photo can look perfect from a photographic standpoint, but without expression and emotion it will have no meaning to you.

capture joy and emotion in your photos

2. Connect

Engage with your children when you are taking photos. Laugh with them, ask them questions, and connect with them. This relationship will show in the photographs and the joy of the moment will come through.


3. Have fun

Photography has to be fun for both you and your kids in order to get real emotion from them. It is best to take photos when you are having fun. This might mean being silly while you’re taking photos or getting down on the ground and playing with them and taking a few shots in between. It might just be going to a park or running around outside. It doesn’t take much to make it fun, but kids don’t like to stand and pose so make it more exciting than that. My biggest advice is, don’t make it about taking pictures. Just take pictures while you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing. If it isn’t fun your kids will start to hate your camera!

capture joy and emotion in your photos

4. Put your camera down

This one sounds a little silly right? But if you have your camera out at every moment you will lose the joy of being with your kids and your kids will lose the connection in the moment. This completely ruins good photos. Have your camera next to you, but don’t forget to stop and just enjoy the moment too! You can miss a lot by being behind your lens the entire time. Look for those moments where you just have to take a photo and take it, but don’t keep your camera clicking the whole time in hopes of getting one great shot.

capture joy and emotion in your photos

5. Think through the moment-what’s the story

Before you start taking photos, think about the story you want to tell. Is you child loving puzzles right now? Get out a puzzle and take pictures that show this enjoyment. Capture the size of his little hands trying to fit the pieces together. Take photos of his “thinking face” as he tries to get them all to fit together. Tell the whole story of the moment. Try not to think of photography as just taking photos, but rather documenting your life. If you change your mindset to this, you will start to take photos of everyday moments rather than just special events. Instead of posing your kids for photos you will look for opportunities to catch them doing something they love, like reading a book or playing with legos.


6. Photograph all emotions

It’s not just the smiles of childhood that make great photos. It’s okay to take photos when your kids are upset, mad, confused, tired, etc. Get all the good stuff. Having these emotions in photographs will bring you right back to the moment and can make for some precious images. I never take pictures of my kids if they don’t want me too, so if your child is feeling upset and gets mad when you want a photo, you should put your camera down and snuggle with your little one. However, if you have a moment, like when my child lost it because he didn’t know he’d have to wait for the cookies to bake before he could eat them, these are great moments to capture!

capture joy and emotion in your photos

7. Get close

Find a way to get all the beautiful details of your child’s face. Get up close and take photos. The sparkle in the eye or the lines beside the eyes, these are both evidence of a genuine smile. Find the right moment to get close ups of your child as a way of preserving their expressions.


If you have read any of my other posts about photography, you know that I am passionate about using photography to document YOUR story so you have incredible images to pass down to your kids and grandkids. Capturing emotion is essential to telling your story. The feelings of a photograph are what will make that moment come alive for you when you sit down to recount these moments in the future. A long time ago, families used to pass down stories from generation to generation. We now have the ability to do this in photographs. Getting the whole story includes capturing the emotion behind the moment.


What to do now:

Get out there and start taking photos of the everyday moment and have fun doing it! You can pin this article for later by clicking the Pinterest icon on the side. My goal for you is that you have fun with photography and make it a part of your every day.  Tag me on Instagram (@athomewithkidsblog) and show me your favorite photos.


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