My kids are 5 and 2 – the ages of bathtub silly faces, Lego creations, snow angels and puffy eyes just after an afternoon nap. These are the moments I want captured and locked in my memory forever. The easiest way to do that?
I own a DSLR camera and my job allows me access to really great Canon gear, but if I run to get the “big” camera every time my kids do something cute, funny or even naughty, I’ve lost the moment. The solution: my iPhone. I always have my iPhone in my front left pocket of my jeans. It’s always charged, it’s always available, and if I’m lucky, it has enough memory for a few more pictures. This camera is good quality, so using it instead of the Canon is not something I feel badly about. Capturing everyday moments with my iPhone means more to me than simply creating a memory in a photo or adding noise to my Instagram feed. These photos tells stories about my kids’ lives and their experiences.
Here are a few things I think about to help my photos tell a story:
We tend to shoot from the same angle all the time, but maybe we’re missing a better view. Try finding a new angle. Is your child reading a book on the floor? Lie down in front of them and capture those small fingers grasping the book. Get high, get low. Move across the room.
In this photo… I received a box of macarons as a gift, but my kids really wanted to try them. They waited (mostly) patiently for five seconds, thinking about which flavor to pick, which allowed me to get this mommy’s perspective shot. This photo shows their personalities. One eager. One willing to wait. And those squishy toes are pretty cute, too. Fortunately, when I said “go,” they went after the purple and orange, and left the chocolate for me!
Your child might have the most beautiful blue eyes, but sometimes catching him or her in action makes for a better picture than shouting “say cheese” over and over again. Maybe it’s the way they’re playing kitchen with their stuffed animals, the way they guard their forts made of cushions and blankets, or the simple way they color quietly at the kitchen table while you make dinner (I’m not familiar with this one).
In this photo… We were at my son’s soccer practice on a hot and humid Minnesota evening, and my daughter wanted nothing to do with sitting nicely on the sidelines with the other parents and kids. She preferred to be on the field running circles around the players. After a while, I just let her roam as long as she wasn’t in the way (mostly because I was too hot and tired to care anymore). I noticed she finally sat down to pick some grass, so I took this picture to remember that humid night at soccer with a 2-year old. She appears so calm and innocent, but I know. Moms always know.
If you want your kids to look at you, being silly works every time. Give them commands or ask questions like: See who can smile at mommy the longest! Who loves strawberry ice cream? This especially works well when you’re trying to get siblings to look at the camera at the same time. It’s friendly competition and if you talk about something they love (ice cream!), they’ll smile naturally.
In this photo… On Halloween, I wanted to get a good shot of my son in his costume. Rather than attempting a photo that night in the dark when his excitement level would be through the roof, I had him put it on early and I asked him to roar like the loudest dinosaur. What a scary T-Rex!
In your editing menu, mess around with brightness and contrast, highlights and shadows. I personally love the way black and white images affect mood and emotion in pictures. It somehow brings out the story. Sometimes taking the color out all together helps you focus on what’s actually happening in the scene.
In this photo… We were at a family brunch at my mom and dad’s house one Saturday morning. After everyone ate and cozied in to talk, I walked into the kitchen and found my daughter helping herself to leftovers at the table. I love this shot in black and white instead of color because it highlights the sun streaming in the windows, it gives texture to the floor and rug, and it draws my eye to the way she’s sitting on the stool focusing on a piece of fruit.
Help a Friend
As moms, we’re busy taking photos and aren’t always getting in them with our kids. I love getting in photos with my kids, but it doesn’t usually happen unless it’s a selfie where I’m tickling one of them with my free hand. Think about that the next time you’re hanging out with a friend and her kids. Snap a few of her helping her daughter wash her hands before snack time, rocking her newborn to sleep, cheering her son on at soccer practice or kneeling down to kiss her daughter’s owie in the middle of a torn-apart playroom. Once you’re home and your kids are down for naps, text it to her for a special surprise!
In this photo… My sister is a brand new mom, and when I was visiting them the other day, I couldn’t help but notice the way she was smiling at her son. I quietly took my phone out of my left front pocket, framed the shot off center for a unique perspective, changed it to black and white and texted it to her for a special surprise while she nursed him late at night.