The other day the weather was nice so I thought I’d take my kids outside to get some nice photos before I started getting swamped with photo sessions for other families. We went to a place nearby with lots of space to run. But do you know what happens when you take kids outside? They run EVERYWHERE. There were very little opportunities to take photos while they were still so I had to take photos while they were active.

how to photograph active kids

This is often the case with young children though isn’t it? Kids like to move and the truth is, you’ll like your photos more if you allow some of this movement. You also likely have sports or other activities you like to photograph so learning how to photograph active kids will help you capture your kids’ childhood.

When I first got started with photography I had to focus so much on how to get the settings on my camera right, that thinking about anything else was too hard. You may be in this place right now and if you are that’s okay. It all takes practice. Read through the tips for photographing active kids and apply what you can. I also encourage you to take a minute to read these posts that may help you in the stage you’re in right now.

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How to photograph active kids: my 6 favorite tips

1. Keep your shutter speed fast

If you haven’t mastered your settings yet, that’s okay. Just know that in order to freeze motion, you have to have a fast shutter speed. When photographing active kids I suggest keeping it at 1/500 or faster. Going any lower than this could cause less clarity in your final image.

2. Get moving

If you’re going to get good photographs while your kids play then you have to move quick. Kids are fast and go from one thing to the next pretty darn quick. You’ve got to keep up and be ready for a shot when the moment strikes. It’s not the same as having several seconds to get one shot right, you’ve got to be on your game.

how to photograph active kids

3. Use a zoom lens with a wide aperture

This is a little pricier lens so you may have to put it on your wishlist for now, but having a more advanced lens will help you greatly when photographing active kids. You may find yourself needing to zoom in while your child is playing a sport or just playing at the park. You can’t always be super close. The wider aperture setting will allow you to have that fast shutter speed and still let enough light into your photo without having to up the ISO too much. ISO can cause noise in your photograph which effects the clarity just like motion. My favorite lens is the 24-70mm f2.8. This is a very versatile lens so if you’re looking to upgrade, this would be. Good lens to save for.

4. Get down on their level

You will get a whole new perspective of the fun if you view it from your child’s level. Photographing an active child in this way allows you to get the facial expressions that go along with the play. This will also capture the emotion of the moment better than if it appears you took the photo as a bystander. Get down where you can see it all unfold.

how to photograph active kids

5. Use the light

Assess where the light is and how it’s falling on your child. Move yourself until you get the look you want. If the sun is directly in your child’s face, it will appear washed out. If it’s coming directly from one side or the other you may get harsh shadows. Getting the light to fall behind your child gives the most even appearance on the skin. Play with it a bit until you’re able to get the look you want.

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6. Master focus

Make sure you have your camera set to continuous focus mode so your camera will track and keep up with your focus point. When it comes to focus it’s all about practicing with where to place your focus point. If you’re in continuous focus mode you’ll be set up for success, but you still have to practice. There are many factors that go into achieving the perfect focus. Take a moment to read this article for more on focus.

If you have kids or spend anytime at all photographing kids then you know how quickly they move. Learning how to photograph active kids will be essential to getting your favorite memories captured on camera. Keep practicing with your settings and get good at focus and you’ll be amazed with the images you get.

Need more help with your settings? Sign up for my free class, Manual Mode Made Simple, where I walk you through each setting and how to put them together.

photograph active kids

If you’re not part of our photography community yet, head over to the Facebook group and join us. I’d love to see your photos and help you along your journey!

Happy Clicking!