Let the Kids Take Their Own Pictures: You’ll Be Surprised & Pleased with the Results

Why You Should Let Your Kids Take Their Own Photos

I am a glutton for punishment.

Holidays are stressful days unto themselves. But I always want a family picture on holidays. Family pictures bring their own kinds of stress, and so I just add more stress to an already stressful day. Apparently I hate sanity.

On Easter morning, the boys were ready quite quickly. Let’s face it, it’s not all that hard to put on a button up shirt, pants, socks and shoes. New haircuts made it so they didn’t even have to brush their hair. Teeth brushed and, voila! Done!

I still needed to finish my hair, which is par for the course in our house. I had a random and rare stroke of genius: Set up the tripod and let the boys get their sillies out before the family picture. I was expecting that their photography wouldn’t be of use to me.

And, truth be told, some of it looked like this:

Funny Outtakes
Both photos straight out of camera, just cropped.

Which, of course, both photos are twelve kinds of awesome in their own way. I smiled when I looked through my memory card that night, and again now when I sat down to write this post about letting your kids take their own photos. There’s something special and perfect and just right about those two photos. BigBrother is all Mr. Serious, Let’s Do This Right and LittleBrother is all Mr. Pfft, Go Your Own Way. Very spot on when it comes to their personalities.

Of course, I kind of love this one the most.

This Stinks
Photo edited only for color.

“Do you think this picture looks okay?” “I honestly couldn’t care less.”

But they’re not all duds. I promise. While I was busy finishing my hair, the boys took this gem.

Photo unedited


The photo is a decent photo. I could wish that my four-and-a-half-year-old already knew how to hide the remote in his hand, but I’ll be honest, it’s not my strong point either. But it’s a happy picture that I did not have to coax out of my kids. They smiled on their own. They looked at the camera, which is something that LittleBrother often refuses to do for me because I am his mom and that is his prerogative. It’s a solid picture.

All it needs is a crop and some color help, and it’s a great picture!

Great Picture
Image edits: crop and color play.

Or, if you’re feeling crazy, turn it grayscale and fiddle around with brightness and contrast!

Black and White
Image edits: grayscale, brightness and contrast.

I really do kind of love it.

I also loved having five minutes to finish my hair without children whining that they wanted to eat more Easter candy. I also loved that I didn’t have to take more time after my hair was done — when we were already running late for Easter morning service — to coax them to look at the camera and smile. It was already done! I also loved that when it came time for the family picture, their silly photos were already done and we nailed our family shot rather quickly. And yes, I do love the silly outtakes. What mom wouldn’t?

My happiness aside, the boys love being allowed to ham it up for the camera and take as many pictures with the remote as their little hearts desire. I did have to step outside once and remind them to take turns with the remote, but otherwise, they were happy, happy, happy.

If you want to let your kids take their own pictures, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1. A camera. Obviously.
  • 2. A tripod or a sturdy surface. I’ve balanced cameras on a stack of books or set it on a table before.
  • 3. A remote or a timer on your camera. For kid purposes, I suggest the remote. Here’s why: With the remote, they are already in focus because you set it up before you walked away to finish your hair. There’s no running back and forth by the kids so they stay in focus and they won’t risk knocking over your camera, causing damage and thus ruining the fun. Plus, what kid doesn’t want to be in charge of a remote? They really are rather inexpensive. Mine was $12!
  • 4. Some form of photo editing software. I use Photoshop, but there are free ones for you to use. Picnik is closing, but PicMonkey is showing that it could be a decent online editor. I say you need photo editing because you may want to crop out the remote or fix a few things that happened while you weren’t standing over the camera’s settings.

And that’s it! You’ll want to set up the camera so that it receives the remote as most have to be on a specific setting to do so. Set your kids in front of something (a tree, a wall, just something that acts as a point of reference where they should be standing). Set the focus. And turn them loose. I encourage you to actually walk away so you don’t say things like, “No, don’t make that face! Smile! COME ON!” You’ll get some much more natural and much funnier photos if you leave the room.

One last tip: Get a few of the photos printed. I already got a few of their photos printed from their Easter photo-rama. They were tickled to see their handy work hanging up in their rooms.

Kids Pics
Photos hanging on magnetic photo rope from Photojojo.

Happy photographing (while you’re fixing your hair or doing something else entirely)!


13 Replies to “Let the Kids Take Their Own Pictures: You’ll Be Surprised & Pleased with the Results”

  1. Okay but how do you get them to stay still/in the same place?! Because Jamison jumps and moves five feet to the left, then the right, etc. I’m going to have to try this though!!

    1. Well, I remember the first time we did it, explaining to the boys — mainly BB — that you have to stay in a certain area for the camera to really be able to find you. If you move TOO much, it won’t work and things like that. LB cares a bit less and there are a few frames where only his ear is in the photo, but BB is a stickler for rules. Ah, personalities.

    1. I do know *SOME* non-DSLRs have wireless remote capabilities. As an example, the iPhone does (link to Photojojo, which is obviously one of my fav camera-stuff stores). I would google your camera, down to the model number, and then “wireless remote.”

  2. BB has taken his own photos so he knows to stand on the “X”. I did not know about remotes and now I’ve got to have one. Is it universal? Can you send me a link?

    1. Remotes are not universal, sadly. You need to google your camera model and “wireless remote.” Not all point-and-shoots have them, but a large (and growing!) number do!

  3. Brilliant!!! (she said as she yelled at her husband from the other side of the house “honey, what did we do with the tripod after we did that thing that one time?”

    And the photos are perfect the way they are, I wouldn’t change a thing!

  4. What a great idea! Love it. I can just imagine what trouble my girls would come up with for this! I’m going to have to see if we can do this soon.

  5. I love it! I’m in the market for a new camera and one with a remote would be awesome. Though, I do wonder what I might get if I left the little hooligans alone with it?!

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