There are a lot of things I love about my job. One of the things that I’ve grown to appreciate over the years is the value of having special moments documented with photos and videos. I definitely have too many photos of myself, honestly, it can be a little disturbing. BUT, I am so, so grateful for all the beautiful photos I have with my family… and especially with Jack.

I know it’s pretty common for moms to be the ones capturing the memories and, therefore, they’re not in as many photos. (And how many memes have you seen online of women sharing the cute candids they capture of their partners/children and their partners with their children versus the totally unflattering candids the partners capture of them 🥴 They’re doozies…) Even if you’re not going to take your own photos with a self-timer like this post, let me me say… mamas, get in photos!!!! Don’t duck out of frame or hide from cameras at holidays and parties. Don’t worry about what you’re wearing. Don’t worry about your body. Don’t worry about your weight, makeup, hair, etc. You will not care about this years down the road, and most importantly, your children won’t.

When I posted about this on my Instagram story a couple of months ago, I was flooded with DMs from adult children who said they were so sad that they didn’t have many photos of them as children with their moms because they had been self-conscious and camera shy.

I promised I would share my tips for taking your own photos without an Instagram Husband. You can set up with a tripod and a camera, but you can also just do this with your phone propped up somewhere! (My favorite photos of Jack and me have been ones I’ve captured with a tripod. It’s more intimate and I find it easier without any kind of pressure.)

1. Here is a post with all of my photography tips. I will be the FIRST person to say, I am not a professional photographer. The pandemic forced me to get a little better with photography, but trust me, I’m no Annie Leibovitz. If I can do this, you can do this. That post goes into all of my personal “tricks” for better photography, but the TLDR is: focus on NATURAL LIGHT.

2. When in doubt, add a black and white filter. Love the moment, but the photo didn’t exactly come out well? Add a black and white filter. 🤷🏻‍♀️ It works and instantly turns a bad quality photo into a high quality, timeless memory.

3. Think “everyday.” So this might be a hot take, but try to focus your energy on capturing everyday moments. I know so many families (ahem, moms) get stressed trying to perfectly coordinate outfits, securing expensive photographers, and working with finicky weather/schedules to get “picture perfect” photos. Instead, think about your routines and things you and your children love to do. Of course, I have my phone with me a lot, but I also keep my big camera in the nursery a lot so it’s within reach and accessible quickly. When I go through our family photo albums from when we were kids, I love the candid photos of us playing, putting on dance shows for my parents, and cuddling with my parents. The holiday card photos are nice, but they’re so staged and coordinated and don’t match with how I remember my childhood like the candid photos do!

4. Prop your phone and use the back camera. It’s easier to see what you’re capturing if you prop up your phone and use the front (selfie) camera. BUT, the quality (even when it’s set to the highest setting) isn’t as good. Take a test video to check what the framing looks like. (Taking a video is a quicker way than trying to take a bunch of self-timer photos!) And then once you have your phone propped up in the right space, set the timer and go for it! Especially with kids and moving babies, it might take a few tries to get the right shot, but stay patient and tweak things as you go. I usually get a sense of the timing during the first few takes and then know when to make a noise or give Jack a tickle to bring out a smile!

5. Bring out a tripod. I’ve been using a tripod plus my camera’s app on my phone as a “remote” plus the self-timer on my camera. It’s a little more effort, so I wouldn’t start off this set up if you’re just getting going. Here’s what I use right now: tripod, camera, lens. Here’s a helpful video that shows how the app works a little bit more clearly than anything I could type out! The best feature about this particular camera is that it has eye-tracking technology and it is so good. It will wait to get your eyes in focus before it snaps the photo, cutting down on the number of photos that miss.

6. Take an 4k video on your phone. Your iPhone can take high quality videos… and you can use those videos to capture candid photos very easily. This is a trick a lot of Instagrammers use, actually, to capture those carefree candid photos with motion. Under Settings, scroll to Camera, and select 4K video. (I use 4k at 60fps.) Take a short video of whatever it is you want to capture and then send it to your computer (I use Airdrop). I open the video in QuickTime Player and scroll through frame by frame until I find one I want to screenshot! Will you be able to turn the screenshot into a billboard? Probably not. Will you get a cute 4×6 photo you can print for your house or put into a baby book or post on IG??? YES. (The photo above is a screenshot of a video!)

I was thinking of doing like weekly/monthly prompts/challenges for photo ideas to try with your kids… Would this be something you’re interested in? Nothing crazy, you don’t even have to opt in. I’d probably just share the prompt casually on Instagram and see what you guys come up with!

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My newest trick with my kids is using my apple watch to be able to see the back camera view and snap the photo. Something about the self timer counting down with flashes also gets my kids to look at the camera which is just magic! I used to be very anti smart-watch and now cant imagine not having one for this feature alone!


I was going to suggest the same thing, Christy!! I LOVE this feature on the Apple Watch. I don’t have kids but use the feature to capture pictures of me and my dog, or pictures of a group when we’re out on a hike. I usually prop my phone up against a tree — nature’s tripod!


wait, this is amazing. How do I use this? I have an apple watch but had no idea. I only use it to find my phone 34 times a day.


Love the prompt idea! And thank you for this post – I’m bookmarking it as a soon-to-be mom of 2. Gonna need it!


First of all… I LOVE the idea of a challenge!

Secondly, thank you for sharing these tips and tricks. I had our first at thanksgiving and I have the cutest photos of my husband and our son, but look like a troll in pretty much every photo since I got pregnant! My biggest regret from my pregnancy is not taking more photos of my growing bump, so I’ve been making more of an effort. This post is what I needed to up my game! We used a tripod at Easter, but it wasn’t as hard as I anticipated! With these tips and tricks, I will be able to capture so much more!

Long time follower and appreciator of Carly!

Love to you and your sweet family. 💙


Love these tips- thanks! All of my favorite photos are from my iPhone or camera, I end up getting too stressed for professional photos so these come out way better!


Yes please to the photo challenge! I just wanted to comment and thank you for the 4k video tip – I always wondered why your Instagram stories had a certain “look” to them and how you achieved that, and it blew my mind when I just took a test video with the new settings applied. That top photo of you and Jack is particularly adorable – he looks like such a happy little boy!


Carly I’ve been a professional photographer for 10 years and still found this SO HELPFUL!! I have a newborn and getting photos of her (let alone her and I together) is a whole new world! Thank you for sharing!! And i love the monthly photo prompt idea!! I would totally use it!!