Have you ever wondered how to capture authentic moments of your kids without them running toward you with a handful of dirt, or holding still for two seconds? Do you feel guilty for taking too many photos because in the back of your mind are all the dang Facebook news feed posts about ‘living in the moment’ with your kids?
Us moms, we get criticized for everything we do. It’s insanity. I saw a post the other day, something about ‘It’s OKAY if you don’t have a clean home.’ You know what else? It’s also OKAY if you do! It’s OKAY for us to do what’s best for us, own it, accept it, and support one another. Motherhood is hard enough. So, I’m here to tell you, it’s also okay if you take way too many photos of your kids (or if you don’t!)
‘But, LIVE IN THE MOMENT,’ they say. ‘Put your phone down!’ ‘Get out from behind the lens!‘ I’ve heard it all, and honestly, I don’t ever feel like I’m missing a single second of my kids’ childhood. I love documenting their lives and have never once felt I was distracted by taking pictures, even though I run a part-time photography business. How do I make this possible? Read on mama friends, read on!
| Take a Journalistic Approach |
In the world of photography, we call this ‘lifestyle,’ because that’s really what it is! When taking pictures of your kids in the moment, let it be exactly that! Don’t move things around, waste time calling their name and whistling to get a smile or perfect pose, just capture them as they are. Don’t interfere with their play by asking your child to look at your or do something. This is how you will capture authentic memories, for both them and for you. I can look at every one of the images I’m sharing in this post today and recall vivid details about how this moment felt. And to me, that’s what photography is all about. It isn’t about creating a perfect image. It’s about emotion. I remember my son calling, “Mama! Look how high up I can climb!” and me smiling because of how much of a boy he’s turning into. I can feel the sun on my face as I noticed my little family sitting on the beach, the waves lapping near their feet, my son stripped to his underwear. I hear the giggles of cousins chasing a tiny bug through a field. All these beautiful pieces of our life. And I remember these things because I was part of the moment, not apart from it trying to get everyone to look at me or change the scene. Sure, sometimes I ask Ben to do something again because it was so sweet (hey buddy, can you pick another carrot for me so I can snap a photo of you?), and if he says no, I say that’s fine!
Click your iPhone camera in the sheer second you see them concentrating on building that tower of blocks, climbing over a huge dirt pile, running through the forest, discovering their baby toes for the first time. Take it as it is, and then tuck your phone back in your pocket.
| Just Wait |
I will often find myself hiking along a trail with my family and round a corner to be blown away by the beauty of the sun rays filtering through the forest. I move my body to frame the shot (maybe there is something in the background that would be distracting, or my angle is weird), tap to expose for the right light, and wait. I wait for my children to enter the frame and take the photo. I didn’t mess with the natural moment…I just waited for my subjects and then put my phone away. I should also note that it IS beneficial to rapid fire click (take around 5-10 images of movement through a frame), and then you can later browse through quickly to choose your favorite expression or body language! Kids move fast and change happens instantaneously!
| Have a Good Eye |
I won’t lie, it does help to have a small amount of knowledge about photography composition, even when using your phone. You can google and take a crash course on this, but get yourself acquainted with the ‘rule of thirds,’ perspective, movement, and lighting. Oh, the lighting! Light is everything, even with an iPhone. Always look for the natural light. Even the sweetest moment will be ruined by a dark and grainy bedroom with fluorescent lighting. Don’t forget to think about your position. Standing a few feet taller than our babies and kids offers up some pretty boring perspectives. Get on their level. Low, eye-to-eye. See what they see. And remember to move that camera horizontally, instead of keeping it vertical the way we have it when we text and talk on the phone. It offers up more room for editing, space, and sharing.
| Use What You Have |
It’s okay if you don’t have a fancy camera! Use the tools available to you. The iPhone camera (and other mobile devices) are a completely capable device. They might not be able to take high resolution images you can blow up as a huge canvas on your wall, but it gets the job done. A photo is better than no photo, most of the time. 🙂 And moms (especially moms) get IN the photo with your kids! It’s okay to take selfies! It’s also okay to use self-timer! Earlier this week I saw the clouds moving through the sky were gorgeous, and my little gal loves being tossed in the air. So I exposed for the sky, set up self-timer for 10 seconds, and we had the best time giggling and playing together, all while my iPhone captured a burst of photos of us.
| Do Stuff! |
Remember, this isn’t just ‘taking photos’, but it’s capturing memories. And to capture memories, you need to make them. Get out! Do stuff! Garden together, walk to the library, go on a hike, bake cookies, pick flowers, set up the plastic kiddie pool in the driveway! These are all the little things (that we know are actually the big things) kids will remember as the bulk of their childhood. Every day we get to deposit memories into their childhood bank! Think of things YOU want to remember about your babies. I love snuggling and reading books in bed with my kids in the morning, so on a weekend I’ll sometimes ask my husband to take a photo. I might not share it online, but I save it and upload it to our Chatbooks (more on that below!)
| Storing the Memories |
Like I mentioned earlier, I run a small family photography business, but I take 90% of the photos of my kids with my iPhone. It’s true! I leave my thousands of dollars worth of camera gear in the bag and go out with my phone tucked in the back pocket of my jeans. Sometimes I put on an iPhone wide angle lens that screws to the front if we are out hiking, but that’s as fancy as I get. I edit all my photos in-camera using an app called ‘Pic Tap Go’, keeping a consistent editing style with filters/contrast/light/shadows, and I upload them directly to my Chatbooks app, or straight to instagram. Taking photos is great, but it’s also important that we are doing something tangible with them. I love Chatbooks because it’s a running storyline of our lives that my kids will get to physically hold in their hands someday of all the moments of our everyday life together. When I first started using them, I back-ordered ALL of my instagram photos into books, and it was still a great value! Now, I get a book every time it fills with 60 photos, automatically. My son loves when it comes in the mail…we usually run home and sit on the porch swing and look through the past month or two’s worth of fun. This is also a great service because you can add photos you don’t want to share on social media (cute baby buns in the bathtub anyone? mom looking a haggard mess but wants her kids to know this is real life?), but I also add just random photos of stuff we do and add my own captions to them in the app for our memory book. It’s truly a fantastic way to memory keep with really really minimal involvement. I like to picture my kids when they are older looking through this books and laughing or smiling at the adventures we had together.
And guess what? Chatbooks is just a bunch of real people running a great business, and they want to give the readers of NW Healthy Mama discount code to get their first book FREE! How awesome is that? Coupon code is listed at the end of this post.
It takes very little away from my life to snap photos of my kids moving and interacting and living, and adds so much to documenting the history of our family. I encourage you to not overthink it. You don’t have to be super creative or artistic to document your family. I’ve never regretted having so many photos of my children!
Enter “HEALTHYMAMA” on the Chatbooks App available to you to download for free. Use this unique code for your first Chatbook to be FREE!
Next week I’ll be sharing more about photographing portraits of your kids, and I’ll ask you to forget *almost* everything we talked about here! Happy clicking and be sure to share your images and what you’re learning to #nwhealthymama. We’ll be featuring YOU!