I think any parent can tell you about the many faces they see when they’re trying to take a simple picture of their kids. I think almost every kid goes thru several forced smiling stages. They save these awesome expressions for the moments their doing something adorable & then, when you say, would you give me a smile? It happens.
Huge eyeballs appear with a wide, toothy grin that could easily pass as a wince of pain instead of a smile.
Or, teeny tiny squinted eyes closed so tightly shut, no light can pass through, accompanied by a clinched jaw & exposed teeth.
Not quite the expressions you were hoping for.
Read more: 10 Tips to Capturing True Character
Maybe it’s because I’ve basically given up getting ‘perfect’ images anymore but somehow… I’ve managed to pull off actually getting better pictures that I ever got when I as trying. I love being able to watch my kids & let their true personalities shine through as opposed to the forced, crazed expressions I used to get. Now I capture them at their best & they are just busy being themselves.
No.01Ask How They Feel
The beauty of human emotions is that we aren’t always happy. I think it’s wonderful to be able to capture all the emotions our kids are feeling & not only focus on the times they’re at their best. Sometimes just asking your kids how they are feeling about a particular event or day can spark an emotion or a story for them to share with you. I loved this picture of my son who was quite content playing with his cousins but wasn’t necessarily as excited as I was about trying out my new lens. I ended up capturing what might be one of my very favorite pictures of his cheeky, little grin.
This is one of the most fascinating things about kids to me. You spend so much time with these little people & when you send them into the world you realize that they also develop relationships with other people. They have jokes, they have disagreements, they have shared interests. My daughter & her friend have known each other since they were 2 but they’ve lived apart since they were 5. We try & get them together once a year but they mainly communicate via us, their moms, & occasional letters. I love the opportunities when we can get them together & record their connection.
No.03Document Their Interests
If I thought getting a good picture was hard when my kids were toddlers, boy was I unprepared for now. Older kiddos have a different relationship with the camera. They may feel uncomfortable, self conscious or just awkward. Because I still want to capture images of my kids as they grow, but also be mindful of the things I share of them, I needed to get creative. I love just letting them do what they love most while I sit like a fly on the wall & snap some images. Think of the least obtrusive way to approach your kiddos. They’ll appreciate it & you’ll surprise yourself with some inspired images.
Now that all my big kids are gone to school, my youngest spends most of his day hanging out with Winnie, our rescue dog. At any point in the day, I can find him snuggled up to her, covering her with blankets or just wandering by to give her a squeeze around the neck. They are great companions for each other & would probably be a bit lost without the other around.
No.05Make them Laugh
Ok, so admittedly, this isn’t really my job. Plus, I’m not that funny to my kids. But I tell ya, when I need to get a really, really, really good picture of the whole group – I have to go for the laugh every time.
So my husband is the one who gets that job. Make em laugh. I’m not sure what he’s doing but it’s typically pretty hilarious. I’ve never been disappointed with this method. Pictures of everyone looking at the camera & smiling are overrated. Go with what’s happening in the moment.
Some of my favorite moments I’ve captured are of my kids simply doing what they do. Yes, it’s nice to see occasional face. Eyes are a bonus! But what my kids do every day, the normal things, are the things I’ll want to remember most. When they’re totally comfortable & enjoying just being themselves their true personalities can shine through.