How to Capture your kids' TRUE spirit in Photos

Do you ever post an album on Facebook, and as you are scrolling through you realize that they kinda all look the same?  Maybe the "pose" is a bit different, and the backgrounds change, but there isn't something that just POPS? you just click, click, click through the pictures but nothing really grabs you? It could be because the focus is more on getting kiddos to look at the camera and smile INSTEAD of capturing the ESSENCE of them IN THE MOMENT! 

Whether it be at the playground, drawing pictures, or even getting ready for PROM (those with teenagers)...these tips still apply...

it's about focusing in on that 'piece of your heart' that walks around on 2 legs...noticing who they REALLY are and making time stand still...

Here are some tips on how to get those shots that stop you (and others) in their tracks!

1. TALK to them while Shooting: I don't mean TELLING them to stand and smile, I actually mean TALKING to them!  I have all sorts of conversations with my little clients, sometimes I end up getting so enthralled in their story that I even FORGET to take the picture...but, you know what, THAT is what making a memory is all about anyway...the PERSON is the most important thing! So, with my daughters, or with my client families, I spend time TALKING with them...engaging them in our activity.  I talk with the camera up to my face, and sometimes I put my camera down and look them right in the eye...to let them know that I'm interested in THEM in this moment...and then at the last second, I may say, "That is so awesome, I want to remember that story, let me take a quick shot to remember it!!"

 2. Say YES to the MESS! Sometimes, in order to get the essence of our kids, we need to be willing to make a mess. My oldest daughter will only be under our roof for another 3 years or so and then she's off to college...this hits me at the oddest times of the day.  The truth of the matter is that toddler years ARE exhausting, and though I now have more laundry rather than toys all over the bedroom floors, those OLD messes aren't even in my brain any longer. I'm glad that I let my girls "cook" with me and spread their toys everywhere to express themselves...I do not regret leaving the house and coming outside to play and capture them in their chalk drawings or swinging or make believe play or getting wet in the sprinkler when it really wasn't "sprinkler weather" just yet!

3. Get the Details: We can think of this tip in 2 ways...One is to zoom in close and get their hands or other specific details of what interests them.  The Other option is to FILL THE FRAME WITH THEIR FACE! If you are engaged in a story with them, they will automatically be looking at you at some point...especially when you ask them questions about the conversation.  When that moment happens, be ready to capture those catchlights! 



 4. Carve out TIME for FUN:  This isn't overly difficult, if you value relationship over activity. When I say to carve out time for fun, I don't necessarily mean that you need to GO some place...although going to the park or the zoo or some place special is always a FUN treat, and you can even learn some pointers HERE about taking pictures at playgrounds and such.  However, I'm more interested in focusing on allowing them to get engaged in something with me tagging along.  It might mean climbing a tree out back, or burying them in a pile of leaves...or perhaps taking a walk or riding their bike (depending on how fast YOUR legs can move in order to capture the shot too!)




5. EDIT and SHARE!!!  So often we take these pictures of our kids and we never do anything with them.  I have a large iron-rod picture nook in my house.  I print off 4 x 6 pictures all the time of my kids, so that they can remember and SEE the HAPPY of their childhood.  We make albums on Shutterfly and Chatbooks.  I post pictures on social media and tag my older girls so that they know how much I love to see the REAL them, in the everyday! When you capture pictures that just scream their personality, take some time to enhance those images and PRINT them...sign up for chatbooks and get a book sent to you every month...You won't be sorry to have those hard copies in your hands to share for years to come!

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