It’s that time of year.
The dreaded school yearbook picture.
I get clammy palms just thinking about my school picture days. The stark, unimaginative background, the seemingly unnecessary bright flash of the camera, the rushed and awkward smile, only to be shooed away by the photographer who had hundreds of more portraits to take. I still remember the frantic mornings where no matter how hard she tried, my mom just couldn’t tame that lovely front cowlick in my long, often stringy, blonde hair.
We all had to endure this awkward day... our kids will have to endure this same awkward day…
But let’s face it, is this one portrait really an accurate representation of your fun, wild, mover-and-shaker of a child?
If you spend any time at all on Instagram (guilty), you’ve likely been wowed by the quality of photographs our phones can now capture – i.e., the perfect backup plan for when those school portraits may not have turned out as hoped. You know what I am talking about – the oddly forced smile, the distracted-by-their-friends look, the first attempt at rebellion with the must-not-smile look.
Don’t be intimidated by fancy camera equipment, this week we are going to share some tips about how to get great photos of your little ones with nothing but your phone. We know that when you’re finished snapping away, Grandma’s fridge door is going to be extra crowded with fun and quirky photographs this year.
Keep reading to tap into your inner Annie Leibovtiz.
#1 Hurray for play
Kids respond authentically to what is normal to them. Just let them do their thing and capture them while they are at their happiest: playing. Don’t over-think it, let their free little spirits do all the hard work!
We know they move fast though so in order to nail that candid shot, try adopting these tricks. If you are using an iPhone, hold down the shutter button, which will result in multiple photographs. Then you can go back and select the image(s) you like the best. Alternatively, use your camera to record and then choose your favorite stills from the video. Both are incredibly forgiving and allow for great candid shots. If all else fails, see tip #5.
#2 Change your perspective
Break away from that centered, portrait shot and experiment with creative angles, like up close or from above. With the busyness of the every day, it’s easy to forget how quickly they grow. Snap photographs of the details that you want to remember, like photographs of their little fingers and toes. Go on, you know you want to.
#3 Get down on their level
How quickly we forget what it is like to not be able to see over the countertop. Get down on the floor with them and capture them in their everyday world.
#4 Try to tell a story
One thing a school yearbook photograph doesn’t do? It doesn’t give much insight into your little one’s personality. Photographs taken at home can capture who they are at that particular moment in time. Maybe right now they love jumping off things, are obsessed with a knitted fox toy, enamored by crawly bugs, or perhaps they love playing with the neighborhood cat. Whatever it is, capture it – both of you will enjoy looking back on it when they are older.
#5 Embrace the blurriness
Children are almost always in motion meaning some photographs most certainly won’t be perfect. Instead of fretting and deleting, celebrate what the photograph represents. Motherhood can often feel like a blur – moms are imperfectly perfect. Remember that the best photographs are the ones that make us feel something, whatever that looks like to you.
One last thing…
Don’t stress over capturing the perfect image. Think back to your favorite photographs that were taken by your family when you were little. You might have been partly out of frame, or the lighting is a bit off, but you love them because of the memories and the people who took them.
When your children are grown, they aren’t going to notice the unkempt pile of laundry in the background or that you didn’t perfectly follow the rule of thirds. Children want to see the memories of the summers spent in the ocean, their first sleepover, the cake and candles at their birthday party.
When you take a photograph of your child now, you will see how their fun-loving personality shines through. When they see the same photograph years and years later, they’ll see how much your love shone through.