I have always loved photography, but after the birth of my first child, I became completely passionate about documenting his life. I wanted to remember everything about him. Not just the big firsts and milestones, but also the beauty in our mundane everyday moments. Even though I wish I was, I am just not a journaler. My photographs are my journal. Several years, 3 kids and thousands of photographs later, I have started my own business with the focus on family and the connections they share. As much as I love having a business and working with clients, I realized after going through my personal images from last year that I had begun to neglect that very reason that developed my love for family photography in the first place, documenting my own family. I had taken lots of photos of my kids but hadn’t really documented our story very well. When I looked through my images when putting together our family year books, I felt like so much of "us" was missing. So, at the start of this year, I decided to do a project 365, where I take at least one photo every day. After the first few weeks I noticed a theme emerging from my images. I started seeing beauty in our everyday moments. They weren’t beautifully posed portraits but rather things that were just happening in our lives. And I realized, these were the things I really wanted to remember. Don’t get me wrong, I think styled and posed portraits have their place. I AM a photographer after all. ;) You’ll even see some of those in my 365, but for the most part, I’m documenting our every day and in the past 3 months, I have taken some of my most treasured images of my family.
I’ve had such an amazing response to this from friends and clients alike and so many questions from moms that I wanted to share some tips with you on how to document your own family. The best part about these tips is that there is no fancy camera required. I am doing my 365 with my big camera but all of these tips can be applied to a DSLR, point and shoot or a phone camera. So, here are my tips for you on how to beautifully document the story of your family...
1. Keep your camera handy
This might seem like a no brainer but I feel like it is really essential to catching those really sweet moments. Most of us have our phone on or near us a lot so that's always a great option. But if you shoot with a point and shoot or a dslr keep it in a central place in your home so that you can grab it quickly. I keep mine on a high shelf in our living room. Safely out of the reach of little ones but I can grab it and be anywhere in our house in a few seconds. So when you see something like this happening you don't have to say "wait a minute! Mommy needs to get her camera!" Although I do say that a lot too. ;) This picture was taken as my husband was leaving for work. She had gotten up and dressed herself just like this and they were giving kisses goodbye. It was so incredibly adorable when I saw it happen, I just quickly grabbed my camera and asked her to give Daddy one more goodbye kiss.
2. Shoot wide and also go in for a closer look
What I mean by this is to take a step back and take in the whole scene. Usually doing this tells more of the story. When I do this I also like to get in close because it sort of gives you an up close and personal look at what they were doing.
Here are some examples of where I like to shoot wide. I love how it shows how little they are.
And here are some examples of how I like to get in really close to focus on the details of what they are doing or their little features, which we all know, change way too fast!
3. Get on their level.
Changing your perspective can really change the feel of an image and I love to get down on my children's level when photographing them. It kind of gives a more intimate feel and helps you see things from their perspective. Here are some examples of that...
4. Get High- Shoot from your perspective
Again, this is another perspective that really adds a different feel to your images. Of course here we can see more from our perspectives and how we view them. Here are some examples of this...
5. Don't ask them to look at you
We all know this look, am I right? You know, when you ask your child to look at the camera and smile. This is what they give you.
So, just don’t tell them to look at the camera. In fact, tell them not to look at you. Just let them keep on doing whatever activity they’re involved in. Let them be lost in play. Some of my favorite pictures of my kids are ones that they aren’t looking at the camera. It's just so much more special than those fake smiles or crazy faces they make because these photographs are so much more real and genuine.
6. Document the mundane
These things we do everyday as parents are what this life is really made of. And when we look back at our images in the years to come, these photos will be the ones you treasure so much because they are your memories preserved. Home haircuts, an afternoon bath after a blow out poopy diaper (ha!), checking the mail, riding on scooters in the driveway, jumping off the couch in this swimsuits in the dead of winter, nursing your baby, your sad attempt at braiding your daughters hair. This is life, and it's beautiful!
7. Make it fun
I can't tell you how many of my clients leave their sessions and text me later that night and say how much fun they had. That is always my goal and the best way to get real authentic expressions and smiles so why wouldn't I want that same thing with my own children. This is a win-win because when they are having fun, they don't mind you taking pictures. Let them jump in the leaves, dance in circles, do flips, run around, whatever they enjoy doing and you want to remember how cute they were when they did it.
8. Get in the frame
This is something I have become much more passionate about this year. Every year, I put together family photo albums and I began to realize I was missing. Like completely. Obviously, I am the one taking all the photos so I'm just always behind the camera. But, I really want my kids to have some photos of us together. Don't you cherish old photos of you with your parents? Your kids will too. So, I've tried to make it a goal to get in the frame with my kids at least once a month. You can set your camera up on a piece of furniture and set the timer or get a tripod with a remote. If you're using your phone, I use the gorilla cam app that has a self timer on it so I can even set up my phone to take pictures and not just holding it out for selfies. I always try to spend lots of time at my sessions focusing on mothers, especially because I know they are usually the one's taking the pictures and are rarely in them with their little ones but you should also make a point to get in pictures with your kids every once in a while whether that be while you’re cooking dinner or snuggling in bed. You’ll always love these in the years to come.
I hope you've enjoyed reading these tips and find them useful in documenting your everyday with your little ones. I wanted to be sure these tips would work for you no matter what kind of camera you use. And just to demonstrate that I wanted to include some iPhone snaps of mine below that demonstrate most of these tips. And finally, if you are interested in scheduling a session with me I specialize in custom photography including in home lifestyle sessions to document these beautiful days for you. You can contact me here if you're interested. Have a great weekend everyone!
iPhone Snaps of our everyday...