So a few weeks back, we’ve discussed why we take photographs and the feedback I received showed me how many parents struggle to photograph what really matters and get those photographs printed. Here is the next step of your journey towards photographing your family with intent. After the “why”, the “what”! And next time, the “how”.
Photographing your children and your family shouldn’t be only about capturing the “perfection”. Sure, you can photograph your children in their best clothes, ask them to pose in front of you, look at the camera and smile, but to me, this should only be about 5% of the photographs you take of them (if even!).
Since I embraced family documentary photography, I actually cringe every time my husband ask our daughter to “give him a smile”. My philosophy is that I want her to smile because she feels like it and capture her true smile. If I want her to smile, I have to earn it = wait, engage in an activity she finds funny, ask her a question that always makes her smile.
I will always remember my sister’s fake smile whenever she was posing for a photograph (remember the school photos?). I used to make fun of it as it looked like everything but her. Today, she is a very hard person to photograph, always hiding from the camera and never liking herself in them. Therefore, my job is to be patient and wait for the perfect moment to capture her natural smile and personality.
Happiness and love are two things I love to photograph. This is one of my “why”: taking photographs to remember a special moment in time. However, we don’t spend 24h a day smiling & happy and I believe in documenting the “rest”. For me, for her, for my family living in France.
The quiet, the crazy, the ordinary, the extraordinary, the connections and everything in between…
This list is not exhaustive but should give you some ideas of the next photographs you are going to take of your family.
1. The things that make us happy
Think of the moments when you wish you could stop time.
2. The things that make us smile or laugh
Video is great to capture funny things too.
3. The things they love doing
Whether it is on their own, with their parents, siblings and other family members.)
4. Things that show how much we love them
That means getting in front of the camera: get creative!
5. Things that show how much other people love them
Grandparents, aunts and cousins… and it doesn’t have to be hugs and kisses only, even if they are very telling. Baking or reading books with someone is a beautiful way to show love.
6. Things that show how much we love each other
When we become parents, the couple is sometimes forgotten in pictures. Let’s make a point to photograph our relationship from time to time (why not ask your grown-up children?).
7. Their environment
Whether you will live in this house forever or move in a few years, it’s great to photograph its rooms at different times of their childhood. Same goes for the grandparents’ house, the garden etc. Don’t be afraid to include messy rooms.
8. Their personalities
They are all different and they change so quickly. Try to get some photographs that truly show their developing personality. Again video is great for this.
9. Their ever-changing features
Think details: curls, eyes, teeth, freckles, little hands and chubby wrists. Pick a moment when they are concentrating on a quiet activity = still.
10. The milestones
Birthdays, christening, Christmas, first day at school, first lost tooth, first sleepover at grandma’s… Don’t forget to include the people and the environment, document the preparation and the building excitement.
11. The holidays & days out
Those are usually the most documented but always think about details, environment, people and candid reactions.
12. Things that show how hard we work :)
It’s not always easy being a parent. Let’s document the chores that we might miss when they leave the nest (who has a mum that enjoys doing the laundry for her adult children?)
A little exercise for you
In the coming days, keep an eye on what you are usually photographing and see if one of the points above is clearly missing. Little by little try to be aware of what makes you laugh, happy etc. and search for ways to capture them.
I hope this article was helpful and would love to hear what you thought of it and if you have any comments or questions.
Don’t forget to share if you liked it!
20 Photographs Your Children Will Thank You For Twenty years from now
Download this 10 page PDF with prompts and photo examples of what your children will find really meaningful someday.
Some you may have already thought about… and some you may not :)