Nikon Learn & Explore

Taking Better Photos of Your Kids at Play

photo of young boy on playground toy

© Diane Berkenfeld

Take a variety of photos of your kids at the playground, especially if they like giving all the toys a try. Afterwards you'll have plenty of images to share, print, frame, scrapbook or make into a photo book.

Playgrounds are an integral part of any childhood. They're a place to run and jump, make new friends, and try new things. That is why a playground is a fantastic place to make great pictures. But before you grab your little ones and head to the nearest park, here are a few tips you’ll want to know.

Though it is natural for us to take pictures while standing, when photographing kids, you may want to try getting closer to the ground. Shooting on a child’s level will prevent the distortion of bigger heads and little feet you sometimes get when shooting down on little ones from a standing position. Plus, you will see more of your child’s face and less of the top of her head. It can also give your photographs a better feel for how they see the world.

A zoom lens is a perfect lens to use when capturing images of your kids at play. Pros use the expression “fill the frame.” It means move in and compose the photo by including only what is important to your shot. For example, if you are photographing your child blowing bubbles, instead of photographing a full-length image with the playground in the background, zoom into her face as she blows the bubbles, or crop tightly on her hand waving the bubble wand in the air.

At the playground (or anywhere, for that matter) it’s going to be pretty hard to have your kids stand still for a photo. The solution is to capture them in action. Just be sure you set your camera to a fast shutter speed and if the camera you're using has scene modes, use the sports scene mode. This will ensure that you freeze the action, instead of ending up with a blur running through the image.

Take photos of your kids on the swings, coming down the slide, climbing on the monkey bars, and any other playground apparatus. Be sure to experiment with different angles. You might be happily surprised with the results. Look for the geometric shapes and bright colors that fill the playground and include them in your compositions for more interesting photographs.

If your kids do slow down enough to let you pose a few photos, try capturing an impromptu portrait. Zoom in close to capture the joyous expressions.

And, remember that playgrounds will often incorporate picnic tables, ball courts, winding paths and more—all possible subjects for great photographs of your kids at play.   

A playground is a great place for kids to have fun and can be a great place for a photographer to have fun, too!

photo of child on playground bridge

© Diane Berkenfeld

Candid shots can be just as great as photos where your kids are looking at the camera. Be careful to snap the photo when faces are visible, not hidden from view.