How to take beautiful photos of your children — at home!

Is your photostream looking a little… bare?

After a year of pandemic life, you might find that the monotony of home life has you taking fewer photos than usual, or maybe safety considerations have meant you have held off on taking updated professional family photos. But even if all we’re doing is living the rhythms of daily life at home, you can still take beautiful photos of your littles — even without fancy camera equipment and photo editing software!

We reached out to Breanna Bartolucci, owner of Whimsee Photography in Thousand Oaks, California, to ask her to share her best tips for beautiful DIY home photos, plus what to consider when planning professional photos in the age of COVID. Check out her beautiful work on Instagram @whimseephotography!

When I take photos of my kids, it seems like I have a choice: They can be smiling or they can be standing still. Any tricks for helping both of these things happen at once?

Smiling and standing still honestly rarely happen with my own kids. You know, they say a child behaves the worst with their mother because you are their safe spot, you are their garbage disposal of unpleasant feelings and emotions (so don’t take it personally, it's a good thing!).  As for tricks, I am never one to bribe my children to do day-to-day chores and tasks, but for a special photo, bribery is a must. I recommend clear gummy bears. They don’t stain, they don’t leave a mess, they don’t melt in the kids’ hands, and there is no evidence of bribery left in their teeth to photoshop out. If you're not into bribing with food you can bribe with watching a movie during dinner or an extra book during bedtime stories. The options are endless and you know your kid best. Always use the “First this, then that,” method. For example: “First we will take pictures, then we will get ice cream.”


What are some built-in settings on an iPhone that can help parents snap better quality photos?

Here is my go-to for capturing a great shot:

  1. Open camera.
  2. Go to portrait mode.
  3. In the bottom left of the frame on screen, click the 2x until it shows 1x.
  4. Top right of the phone screen is this option to change the f-stop (aperture) — it looks like a cursive f with a decimal number near it. You can adjust accordingly by clicking it and sliding the dial at the bottom of the screen to your preference. As you adjust that slider, you will see that fake bokeh (blurred background/soft background) effect you see when you get professional photos done. Try going down to 1.4 or 2.2! 
  5. Click away! The portrait mode is a bit slower than normal photo mode, but if you can time it right you get a great shot!

Now, if you’re working with multiple kids, use burst mode! You do this by holding white button down and sliding to the left. You can pick the best shot after taking 50-70 photos by using this mode.

What mobile apps do you recommend for editing phone photos?

I don’t use any mobile apps to edit. I just use the basic editing the iPhone offers. There are so many things you can adjust to make the photo look like what you want. The main things I adjust on a photo in the iPhone editing are exposure, a little brilliance, shadows, brightness, black point, warmth, and sharpness.

We're staying home and avoiding contact with others. What are some good ideas for activities or settings for at-home photos if we want to do our own DIY shoot?

My absolute favorite thing to do is find the brightest bedroom in the house, put a white blanket on the bed, have kids sit on the bed, and shoot towards the window. It will give you that amazing studio lighting without having the studio! 

If we want professional photos, what kinds of COVID precautions and safety measures should we expect/look for?


The use of a mask worn properly and gloves if handling a client (newborn) are the most important. I personally will wear an N-95 mask when doing newborn photos, and upon arrival to the home I take my shoes off and go straight to the sink to wash my hands with hot water and soap up to my elbows, as if I were a surgeon getting ready for surgery! If I am outdoors with clients, I am wearing a mask and keeping a safe physical distance (not social!) from clients. I personally am taking all necessary precautions and following recommendations by the CDC to ensure I don’t not come in contact with anyone who is or might be ill. Even before COVID came along, it has always been important to me to be up to date on vaccines recommended before handling a newborn.

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