Life takes place every single day...
We'd be foolish to think that tomorrow is always promised. If we've learned anything over the past two years, it's that life can change in an instant. Our children are growing up before our very eyes and their personalities are really starting to take shape. It's hard to see what we are taking for granted until it's gone.
Let's become more intentional about the little things in life, for one day, those will be the big things.
IDEAS FOR MOMENTS WORTH CAPTURING
When you think about your life right now, write down your daily routine, the moments that fill your soul. Now think about where these moments take place. Think about the moments you don't want to forget. Even those moments that drive you crazy or the habits that annoy you, those are worth capturing too! Seriously, one day you'll laugh about them. Here are a few ideas to help your mind start processing and looking at your day in a documentary way...
- Mornings at home
- Bedtime routines
- Working in the garage with dad
- Cooking or baking with mom or grandma
- Chopping wood as a family
- Basketball in the driveway
- Playing in the snow or swimming in the pool
- Photograph your child's favorite activity at home (think playdoh at the table, painting, playing with barbies, or even your teen in bed with his/her phone)
- Think about the traditions you have, photograph the hell out of those.
- Bath time
- Hunting + fishing
- Simple moments like playing in the living room or cuddling on the couch
- Moments with their favorite toy
- Their room or their special place. I can't tell you how much I love seeing images of my childhood room. You can see so much of the things I loved and my obsession with organization.
- Playing outside, going on walks
- Dinner time
- Sporting events - but not just the action - but moments in the dugout or hanging out as a team or their fans in this stands
- Building a fort
- Water balloon fight or playing in the sprinkler
I could truly list over a 100 moments in life worth capturing. The bottom line is for you to capture YOUR family story, whatever that may be. Ignore what others consider documentation or worthy of a photograph. I photograph the hell out of our travels and outdoor time together. I know that will be part of my children's childhood story, so I want pictures to go along with it. This brings me to the point of "your child's story". Listen to what they talk about, the moments they love and make sure you have pictures to go along with it. Document their personalities, the things they love doing, their room, the way they laugh and all of their quirks and likes. Don't forget "your story" too. We as moms view our day to day life as a constant blur soaked up into moments we don't want to pass us by yet eager for the bedtime routine to begin. Take a moment to slow it down, to look around you. What are you going to miss? What do you love about them? And dare I urge you to prop your camera up on something, set the timer and make sure YOU ARE IN PHOTOS TOO?!
TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHING THE MOMENT
#1 GET ON THEIR LEVEL
The kid are playing together in the living room (and getting along! Which is a moment in itself to document). Instead of sneaking in and standing, shooting down at them, kneel down, bend down, whatever you need to do to take it as if you are on the floor with them. This helps to make an image feel like you are in the scene, seeing it from their perspective. This creates more emotion and is a reminder of just how little they are compared to the items around them.
#2 DON'T INTERVENE
I can't stress this enough, don't change the moment, alter the things around them or ask someone to do something different or turn a different way. It is your job to find the shot, move your body and find the story within the scene. I'm telling you, if you speak up and change things, the storyline changes and in most cases, the kids stop doing what they were doing and now it becomes a staged photoshoot. You know when they say "don't wake a sleeping baby?" Great, now "don't disturb a beautiful moment."
#3 TURN OFF THE FLASH
This might be easier said than done. I NEVER use a flash, ever. The only way to effectively capture a shot, especially indoors with low light is to understand your camera and shoot in manual or have great natural light. If you are shooting with your phone, make sure to turn the flash off. Not only does it make for red eyes, it darkens the scene around your subjects, and the scene itself is part of the story. A flash also gives you away. If you're trying to be sneaky or trying not to disturb a moment, turn it off. *When it comes to indoor lighting, natural light is best. If window light allows, turn off all overhead lighting (it creates a yellow casting).
How did you get that photo? I get that question all the time. Playing sports all my life sure taught me to anticipate the next move. In documenting your family, constantly be thinking about what their next move might be or what disaster might be on the horizon. Then be patient. Part of this process is waiting, and then waiting some more. Catching the kids jumping off of things, running into the water or jumping over waves...that all comes with being patient and watching the story unfold. For example the photos below: I knew when she was playing at the sink that inevitably she'd grab it and get soaked (what I didn't anticipate was her wanting a drink with her little tongue sticking out). The second picture I saw her jump up to go help her sister, I waited knowing she would try to help her up. Baby Dylan in picture three, he sure loves to splash, so waiting for his excitement was quick and easy. The last picture I saw coming a mile away. When my daughter grabbed the leaf blower and took it on the trampoline, I knew it was only a matter of time before this scene unfolded.
Don't forget that the scene or the background of your image is just as important as the subjects themselves. The story includes the location, what it looked like, what it had in it and even who was around to witness the moment. Take a step back to photograph all of the surrounding elements that capture your moment, ignoring what you might think are distractions or even what you'd consider a mess (like dirty dishes or laundry). We are living after all, don't change the scene or the background, focus on photographing the moment using all of the story elements. Documenting your family through photographs is much like reading a book but without the words. It's our job to set the scene with our images, to create a feeling and to draw our viewers in. The goal is to create images that make you feel something now, and 30 years from now.
Don't forget the pets!
Pets play such a vital role in a childhood story. We must not forget to document the moments through life together with our pets and even the challenges they make for us.
Documenting real life for you, and for them.
At the end of the day, these images are as much for us as they are for our family. Each Christmas my family would go through boxes and boxes of old family photographs and each time, it seemed as though we found a picture we'd never seen before. We'd always discover photographs that prompted stories we'd never heard and before you knew it, we were sitting around the table laughing and crying and really in awe at the moments of life documented. Remember photographing your family isn't about just having some new pictures to hang on your walls today, it's about creating a legacy of images to provide your family long after you're gone. It's for you, and for them. So document the hell out of this beautiful life, for we only have one and it begs to be photographed.