My love for photography started 100% with my children. They are my muses and my inspiration. I love capturing them together and separately. I love documenting our life and the ins and outs of our everyday. Photographing your own children, though, can be quite a challenge. Most children of snap-happy mamas are likely used to a camera and may or may not be tired of being photographed. Here are my 5 tips for getting those genuine photos of your own children.
1. Be a fly on the wall
I try to photograph my children and our everyday from a distance. I've had my camera out enough for them to not even pay me one lick of attention anymore. They no longer look in my direction and give me the "cheese" face when I start snapping. Yes, I love a good portrait photo or a picture where everyone is smiling, but those in-between moments where everyone is just doing their own thing are my very favorites. So I try to be a fly on the wall in their world. I quietly walk in to a room where they are and attempt to capture them doing whatever it is they are doing. I try to capture them being kids and crazy and weird and all that stuff. If we are outside, I might gently guide them over to some pretty flowers in pretty light, or I might ask them if they see that "treasure" on the ground (i.e. rocks) over in that pretty light. And sometimes I may just ask them to move this way or that, but for the most part, I try to be as invisible as possible.
2. Don't stop snapping
If I see pretty light and really want a photo of my two together, I will ask them if I can take their photo and then tell them where I want them to be. I might ask them a question or have them tell me something, but for the most part I don't guide or direct them, but instead, I just let them be themselves while I photograph around them from various angels (up, down and all around). Those "golden" photos (which are my favorites) are always the ones that happen when the me from years ago would have put my camera down. If I ask them to tell me something or do something for me, I just keep snapping both before and after. The moment AFTER the moment you asked for are always the best. That's where those genuine smiles and real giggles come out. That's where their true personalities shine. So don't stop snapping after the moment. Keep snapping and then you will see the true magic of your children.
3. Be patient
Oh man. Patience is key with your own children. I am totally guilty of getting frustrated when I really envision a photo, but it's not happening like I had imagined. Being patient and letting my kiddos be themselves is the only way I'm going to even get a decent shot. As soon as I let my frustrations get the best of me, the show is done. They are done. And I am definitely done. So be patient and take a deep breath. Remember that photographing your own children should be fun and easy, which brings me to my next point....
4. Let them help you
When I let me kids help me with photos, they get a sparkle in their eye. Sometimes I let them decide what they want photographed and other times, I just hand my camera over and let them take a few photos. Some of the most fun I've had with my camera have been child-led. They wanted their photograph taken with such-and-such toy and then the magic happened.
5. Know when to put the camera down
This. This exactly. The biggest part of being your family photographer is knowing WHEN to put your camera down. It's knowing when to be a part of the action instead of a bystander capturing a moment. It's knowing when the photo just isn't going to happen and that's a-okay. It's knowing that even though the moment wasn't captured doesn't mean that it didn't happen. It's also a great way to recharge your batteries and seek out inspiration from other outlets instead.
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