The Blog by Ellen Wags

a lifestyle blog for real mamas. featuring family-friendly home decor, casual mama style, and stuff to keep your kids entertained. 

Getting in Front of the Camera

mother and daughters in matching swimsuits sitting in front of a pool

Quick, when was the last time you took photos with your kids? Does getting in front of the camera intimidate you? I used to be disappointed as I looked through family photos and didn’t see myself in them. I decided to take things into my own hands and do self-portraits with my girls. It is actually fairly easy once you get used to it, and I’m sharing today how I get it done! 

You know that TikTok trend that’s going around right now where people are taking videos of themselves because no one ever takes those cute montage videos of them? That’s kind of how I feel about moms in photos with their kids. I used to be terrible (TERRIBLE) about remembering to hop in photos with my kids. For a good while, all the photos of me with my girls were selfies. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good selfie, but I think in 30 years when you’re looking at photos of your family, you’re going to wish that you had something other than a selfie!

Let chat about how to get in front of the camera with your kids (we will talk about training your partner to be an Instagram-husband in another post 😂).

Tools to use

For your sanity, please PLEASE invest in a good tripod. I am obsessed with this handy one from Manfrotto. I have had less expensive tripods, and I promise this is a place you will not regret investing a bit of money. This one can handle a DSLR and has a phone attachment. I also would recommend a remote for you camera or phone. I typically use the Canon Connect app on my iPhone, however, I have used a Canon remote trigger in the past and it gets the job done. These are specific to your camera model, so be sure to check the stats! Oh, and if you’re using your iPhone as your camera, did you know you can use your Apple Watch as a remote camera trigger? YES! (PS you can visit this blog post for what’s in my camera bag and recommended gear!)

Where to set up

I find it is easiest and most natural to set my tripod up in the doorway of a room we normally are in and hit the trigger as we are doing our usual activities. If you are feeling adventurous, you definitely can set up outdoors or in a public space, but I always find it harder to wrangle the kids and overcome the awkwardness of tripod photos in public 🤪 Use the same location tips that you apply on photos of your children by themselves – plenty of natural lighting, low clutter in the area, and a place that you and your children naturally gravitate to.

How to do it

I approach self-portraits with the girls a bit differently than the usual photos I take of them. I stage the shot more – directing them to jump in the bed, tickle me, read with me, etc. You can try to hide your phone (or camera remote) in your hand, behind one of the kids if they are close enough, or just out of frame. Lately, I haven’t even been making an effort to hide it. It is just part of the moment and I don’t really mind seeing it in the frame, especially if the photos are just for personal use.

Here are some of my favorite self-portrait images with the girls.

interracial family of four posing on king sized bed in matching fourth of july pajamas

Smiling to the camera is a great direction for family photos! Especially ones you want to send to extended family.


mother and two girls playing

Tripod set in up our typical play area and the girls and I were playing peekaboo!

photo taken with tripod of mother in twin bed with five year old daughter, tickling her

One of my absolute favorites. I even love that it is blurry.

Things to not stress about

These photos are for your kids. Don’t think twice about whether you’re making an awkward facial expression, the angle isn’t flattering, or you’re laughing so hard that you can see your tonsils. When your kids want to see photos from their childhood, they won’t be thinking about any of those things, so don’t you even dare think about it now!

I try to get things generally in focus, but unless it is for a project, I embrace the blurry photos. I prefer not to have everyone looking at the camera because it (usually!) feels forced and unnatural. Just have fun with it and enjoy the time with your kids!

Have you tried self-portraits with your kids before? Was it crazy or did you have fun doing it? 

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