There’s nothing like the colors and textures on a playground to get great photographs, but it is often accompanied with overhead light and harsh shadows. I bet most of your trips to the playground end up being midday when the sun is at its worst for photography. Hopefully these photography tips will help you make the most of your visit to the park and capture a few joyful smiles from your kids.

Let them play

Honestly, the best way to get genuine photos of your kids is to let them play. Don’t let your camera dictate the day. Enjoy the park (or any other outing) just like you would without your camera. Take photos as your kids play and engage with them just as you usually would. Don’t continually ask them to look at you or smile or anything else, just snap candid photos as they play.


Look for motion

There is no doubt that your kids are running around, jumping, spinning, and otherwise moving about the park very quickly. Take this opportunity to capture the motion in your photographs. You can play with your shutter Speed to get a little blur or to freeze the motion completely. Either way, show the motion from the da in your photographs.


Play with light

Most likely the light will be right over head and a bit harsh when you are at the park. If this is the case you will have to get a bit creative with the use of light. Harsh sunlight can produce drastic shadows on your child’s face so play with backlights and shade. Backlighting is when you position the light source (in this case the sun) directly behind your subject so their face is shaded. Look for natural reflectors such as concrete or sand to help light the face while the main light source is directly behind. Try this from different angles. Move yourself up and down to help block the sunlight with your child. You can also block the sun with playground equipment or photograph your child in shady areas of the playground. Play with the light as you move around the playground.

Get on their level

We so often forget just how much bigger we are than our kids. Get down on their level and experience the park as they experience it. This will give you a look into the world they see and help you capture them in their environment.


Find a new perspective

There are so many options at a playground to get a new perspective. You can photograph your child on the swing from below to show height. You can get up on the equipment and photograph your child from above. You can shoot from any angle you choose. Take your time looking around the playground for opportunities for a new perspective. Get creative and try for at least one shot you wouldn’t normally take.


Get messy

It’s okay to let your kids get messy at the park. Let them play in the leaves, roll in the grass, or hop in the puddles. A big part of childhood is being free and wild and adventurous. Capture these sweet moments and don’t be afraid to get a little messy with them.

Use the color

One of the best features of every playground is how colorful it is. Use this color in your photographs. Find bold lines, shapes, and colors to add interest to your photos. Make these the focus of your images or use them to highlight your child. Use a piece of equipment to frame your child in a color that brings out your child’s eyes or outfit. Use the colors to produce contrast in your photo or to reflect light towards your subject. Your photos will be fun and full of interest if you really use the colors all around you.


Next time you’re at the park, even if the sun isn’t ideal, use the playground photography tips above to get the shot you want. Kids generally have natural smiles and an abundance of energy that can be photographed at the park. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit and harness that energy in your photos.


What to do now:

Make a point of going to the park today or over the next couple days. Choose at least one to of the tips above to focus on and apply to your photographs. Tag me on Instagram (@athomewithkidsblog) and show me your favorite photos.


If you haven’t already, sign up to get this series sent straight to your inbox. The series consists of 31 photography lessons that will challenge and inspire your photography so you can preserve your most treasured moments.