Capture Natural Sibling Moments in Photos

two kids coloring outside in the grass

10 tips that work every time

A common complaint that I hear from parents all the time is how hard it is to take decent sibling photos. With two active young boys myself, I know! It is hard enough to corral them into any kind of functional coexistence, let alone get them into photos!

So at the beginning of the year I challenged myself to take and share one sibling DSLR photo per week for the entire year. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have more sibling DSLR photos from the previous year. In my life as a busy working mom, it’s easy to default to mostly taking individual photos unless I give myself some incentive to do otherwise.

Three quarters of the way in, this “52 project” has been amazing! I am taking many more sibling photos than I would otherwise which in turn has naturally resulted in me paying more attention to observing, cultivating and enjoying their relationship. I love the resulting documentation and the story it tells about their life together.

If this sounds like something you would enjoy, you don’t have to wait until the new calendar year. Start now!

Here are my top 10 tips for better sibling photos.

1) Get down low

I offer this advice a lot! But most people take photos from a standing or sitting position. You’ll get a whole different perspective by getting down low, one that is more immediate and intimate, and it’s a great way to capture those magical moments when your kids are in their own happy little world together.

2) Capture quintessential everyday moments

Many of my clients find themselves primarily photographing special events, activities and trips. Those are important, but so are the everyday moments that one day will be just a memory. Jack won’t be in his crib much longer but I love this moment of the two of them hanging out in it!

two boys playing in their crib

3) Wait until they are engrossed in a favorite activity

You could ask your kids to sit nicely and pose for the camera… but that approach has rarely worked for me! Instead wait until they are engrossed in a favorite activity and you will be able to snap away unnoticed, capturing far more meaningful natural interactions. Ok so moments earlier my kids were fighting and crying but it made this hard won moment all the sweeter!

4) Spy on your kids

Ok, so obviously I don’t mean that literally, but you know how sometimes you peek in on your kids without letting them know, and maybe pinch yourself a couple of times because they are getting along? Photographing your kids through windows, doors, gates or other openings can capture that feeling and emphasize the authenticity of the moment.

5) Place your children strategically

While I try to avoid posing my kids, I do place them strategically. When we’re out in the park in natural light and I want the sun behind them to avoid harsh shadows, I often will place them into position for better photos.

6) Capture ALL emotions

If you aim to only capture your kids together when they are smiling and happy, not only will that be challenging but you will miss out on the capturing a more rounded view of their personalities. Yes, it’s ok to capture a little crankiness! This photo captures my kids just as much as the smiling ones do.

7) Your kids don’t have to be front and center in every photo

If you’re having trouble getting your kids in the frame together, expand your idea of how much of them need to be in the frame! This photo captures this backyard sibling moment perfectly even though neither are fully in the photo.

boy holding his drawing up

8) Give them space

If you’re all on top of your kids, interrupting their flow by taking photos, you’re going to get cheesy poses or… dissent. Instead, give them some space, shoot from a distance and crop in later if you have to.

9) Capture the environment

Usually I try not to get people in the background but… this is NYC, people are part of the backdrop! What is in your kid’s environment that you want to capture as part of their story?

10) Put them in repetitive motion

If your kids are really active like mine, photographing them together can be extra challenging. The swings are great for letting them stay in motion. Repetitive motion gives you a better chance of getting your kids in the frame together.

Bonus tip: Look for unusual angles. Front on is the most obvious angle for swing photos but I love shooting from the side.

Follow along with my “52 project” challenge and share your sibling photos with us on Facebook!