Top 10 Tips for Taking Better Playground Photos

How to Capture Playful Moments Outdoors

Spring is officially here… and for those of us in colder climates, that means we can finally get out of the house with our kids so not only is everyone not going stir crazy but our opportunities for photos in natural light and a wide variety of locations opens up wide. Yay!

To celebrate, I’ll be giving you tips throughout the month for taking better photos.

Wherever you live, there are bound to be spectacular photo locations but a great photo session with your kids doesn’t require anything fancy.

A simple local playground can be chock full of good photo opportunities, especially if it’s early on a cloudy morning where you don’t have to worry about harsh shadows, and it’s before the playground gets more crowded.

Here are some photos from last spring when my husband took my older son fishing one Saturday so I took Jack, then 18 months, to the playground by himself. He had a great time… and so did I.

Here are my top 10 tips for great playground photos:

1) Shoot at your child’s level, or even from slightly below.

2) Wait for natural eye contact.
Your child will periodically make eye contact even from across the playground.
Child Making Eye Contact From Across Playground

3) Capture your child in action!
It may take several shots but keep persisting.

4) Keep an eye on background clutter.
Try to avoid getting cars, strollers, trash cans or other people in the background if you can, or use a shallow depth of field so they are blurry enough not to be distracting.

5) Look for off center compositions that will make your photo more interesting.Photo of Child Off-Center Composition

6) Look for interesting views.
Take photos through parts of the playground structure and use its different levels to your advantage.

7) Look for soft diffuse light rather than bright direct sunlight.  This is why cloudy days are so great for photos.

8) Capture your child’s emotions, such as the moment of hesitation and anticipation before going down the slide.

9) Use your camera to bring you more into the moment.
This allows you to enjoy your time with your child, cement your memories of this time, and create images that you can share with them years later.


10) If the playground is within walking distance, photograph the walk there and back as well.

It’s all about the journey and not just the destination. On the way home, Jack suddenly stopped and started clapping and singing and laughing. This photo is one of my favorite recent photos of him, even though the background is just the sidewalk!