I’ve talked numerous times about the importance of being in photographs. For us (to travel back in time and FEEL what it was like) and for them (so that one day, when they look for photographs of us, they find more than just 2-3).
Today I’m not going to talk about all the reasons why I think it’s important for mums to be in their family photos, and I’m not going to talk about letting go of perfection.
Today I want to give you practical ways to make it happen (and give you a few links at the end of the article to explore further).
Mums & Moms, here are 8 practical ways for you to be present in your family photos for your children.
I don’t do many selfies as I’m often disappointed with the quality afterwards. Older phones “front” cameras are of much lesser quality than the back ones. However, my new phone has the same megapixels front and back so I might do a few more in the future.
Selfies are great for mum & baby cuddly photos
I found that selfies were THE only way to get in the frame when I was on my own with a newborn baby. While it would have been better to get that same photo with a proper camera, it was not only impractical but I wouldn’t have been able to do so without risking her life (holding a 2,5kg over/near her head).
I have some selfies that I treasure, because I remember exactly how I felt when they were taken. There are some selfies from my maternity leave that I love, from when it was only me and her, home alone. And it’s often the only way to get a) all three of us in and b) her to be interested in taking a photograph, cause she can see herself.
I’m a single parent and think selfies can be great. They can capture something you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I adore one of them in particular, first thing in the morning when my boy was so small… He is staring at me with such a such a look on his face… These are the pictures that show me he loves me.
Try to not look at the camera for all of them. Try some when you look at them and get them to look at you / give you a kiss. It might be fun to have a list of a few prompts to give your children (and other half) to make selfies more fun.
Try to include the environment so that it brings you back in the moment and will give context to the photo. (Read that article about mess and perfection.)
Use props to get everyone to relax and look/feel natural: food, books, toys, etc.
Selfie sticks seem to be everywhere! They help include more people and environment in the frame.
2. Mirror Selfies
Another way to get in the frame while taking the photographs is mirror selfies. I don’t think there is a need to write anything else as it kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
I like how it allows you to include some of the environment in it, and also use the bigger camera if you like. However, I always find it hard to not hide my whole face with the said camera (or the baby in the sling).
3. Ask your partner, other family members
I know a lot of mums struggle with the fact that their other half never remembers to capture photographs of them with the children. When they do, they often end up with an unflattering expression (and even the less self-conscious mum will have a hard time with those).
It’s still worth telling the people around us that we would love if they could “snap” photographs of us from time to time when we are unaware.
The key: tell them exactly what kind of moments to look out for
It makes it sound easy and quick to say: “You don’t have to pose us or make us smile, but if you see us reading a book, or having a cuddle, or walking hand in hand, could you capture 2-3 photos for me?” The more often it happens, the more chances of having some that you like and will cherish. Thank them, print the photos and tell them how much they mean to you.
This is where the “Printable Child Memory Book” will come handy.
4. Ask your children
I know I could have put the children in the above category, but it’s actually very different. Left with a camera or phone, most children will start taking photographs of everything. I love the idea of seeing ourselves through their eyes. What moments would they choose to capture, what do they see in us that we don’t?
A single mum from the Facebook group was asking for suggestions and I can’t wait to see photographs taken by her daughter.
5. Interval Timer
This is absolutely brilliant to capture real unposed moments of your family with you in them.
When preparing this blog post, all I could think was how great this feature on my camera was. But I felt bad talking about it if it was only available to a small percentage of people. It turns out that there are Phone Apps that do exactly the same!!
What is it?
Basically, you would use it the same way you would use a 10 secs timer or a remote control, but you will tell the camera to capture a photograph every 2 or 3 secondes until it captured 40 (or more)! Does it sound crazy?
I usually use it when it’s only me and my daughter and I want to capture mum & daughter moments such as baking, reading books, making jigsaws etc. I stop what we’re doing, set it up and then ignore the clicks of the camera (a little harder for toddlers obviously).
In the end, I keep maybe keep 2-3 of the 40 images (the best moments).
The set up is the hardest part (frame & focus), and that’s why I take so many each time, because it can be a little hit and miss, but it’s really handy.
Apps I found for iPhone (not tested) & Android (tested).
6. Include parts of your body
Not all of the photographs have to be with your whole face in it. Some of them can include just part of you. Enough to bring you back in the moment and show that you ARE there, with them. It’s easy and comfortable. Maybe too comfortable?
The photograph above will bring me straight back to that camping weekend, her sleeping beside me.
7. Infuse your photos with your personality (details)
This tip goes a little deeper, and again, I wouldn’t use it all the time, but it gives you a lot more control into what you are capturing and you can actually put a lot of yourself in each photograph without even being in it.
We are who we are because of what we look, sure. But we are so much more than that! The things we keep in our handbag tells a lot about us. Our favourite cup, our favourite drink, how we like to spend our time. Whether it’s yoga, baking, colouring… Think of what would your children say if they were asked “What does mummy like to do?” (Their answers might not exactly be what you’re expecting).
Try and photograph some of the details in your life that shows who you are, what you think, how you feel… without even stepping in front of the camera.
I would even dare to say that the WAY I photograph my daughter is going to tell her a lot about me.
8. Hiring a photographer
Finally, well, you knew I was going to say that, don’t you?
As a photographer, I thought I could do it all myself when our daughter was born. I regret it now. I just couldn’t be the mother of a newborn AND a photographer at the same time and get those photographs that I now create for other people.
It’s just not the same.
My photographer friend Typhanie Piton, created these photographs for me and I was quite emotional seeing them for the first time. It just encapsulates what motherhood feels to me: the beautiful, the funny and the frustrating. It’s actually hard to explain. I know they will only become more precious as time passes.
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 :)