Behind the Camera

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

Hello, beautiful mom—yes, you with the little kids; you with the middle school kids; you with the teenage kids; and you with the grown-up kids.

If you're like me, you probably have thousands of photos of them. They're so darn photogenic!

But, wait. Let's take inventory for a moment.

Mom, how many photos are YOU in?

Are you always behind the camera, forgetting? Or, maybe, do you avoid the way the camera documents those extra pounds; those tired eyes; those emerging crow's feet? Nothing highlights flaws like plastering your face next to a clear-skinned toddler.

Mom, those photos of your kids are for you. You'll flip through them with fondness years from now. But those other photos, the ones of you with your kids—they're for them. They love you. You're the most beautiful woman in their world. You notice those flaws, but they don't.

Someday when my boys are grown up, their memories will be fuzzy. Will they remember all the fun we used to have together? Will they believe me when I tell them how much I kissed their fluffy heads, stroked their cheeks and revelled in their laughter?

Another thing: We have six cameras in our house. Only one is an actual camera; the rest are located in iSomethings.

On Sunday, a friend and I were talking about how our technology is better than ever, but the majority of our photos are worse than ever. Have you noticed the same? It's so easy to grab my iPhone while the "real" camera gathers dust in a closet. So, occasionally (like this morning), I'll carry the camera around the house and and try to document as much of their babyhood as possible.

...remembering to stick my face on the other side now and then...

...not for me—for them.


TIPS for taking photos with small children:

Time it wisely. Pick a day when you have nothing else planned, everyone is in a good mood and there's good natural light outside. Don't try to plan this too much, or inevitably it will be overcast or someone will bash their forehead the night before.

Borrow a good camera if you don't have one. But don't try to learn all the camera settings beforehand—that will just stress you out. Just stick with the default and you'll be fine.

Dress them (and yourself) in nice play clothes. Or whatever.

Makeup. Even if you want to look natural, you might want to put on a little extra to even out your skin tone. (I went back to add some more colour after I saw how washed out I looked at first.) Just do whatever makes you feel pretty—this is mostly to help you feel confident!

Involve your kids. A 10-second delay timer and a flip-out preview screen are really helpful so your kids can get in the shot with you, see what it will look like and keep looking in the right direction.

Find good lighting. A window right beside you is perfect. DON'T use flash unless you have a separate one, in which case you're probably already a pro.

Stop while you're ahead. If you're met with resistance, just try again later. Trust me on this one.

Get down on the floor. Try different angles, but try to shoot from their point of view rather than yours.

Be funny. Don't ask them to say "cheese," which creates the worst photos ever. Tickle them. Tell them to say "POOP"! The best smiles come from giggles.

Have realistic expectations. Plan on taking dozens to get just one decent one! Besides, you can always try again another day.

Any more suggestions for taking photos with little ones?

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