with Courtney Slazinik
Candid Child Photography and Embracing Play
Candid Child Photography and Embracing Play

Not many years ago, as in like 2 or 3, I was just your typical “say cheese” Mom. I finally knew how to work my camera after years of trying to teach myself. I understood the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I even had a basic understanding of light. I had become pretty good at the technical part of picture taking, if I do say so myself. And I loved photography, but my family didn’t share that love.

A must read for any photographer with kids! Read - "Candid Child Photography and Embracing Play"

Read more: 8 Ways to Avoid Photographer’s Child Syndrome

If I saw my boys doing something cute I would grab my camera, run over get everyone to smile for the camera and completely destroy the moment. It was the only way I knew how to capture the memory. They were so cute and I wanted to soak up every last part of their childhood, but photography started to be a negative thing for my kids. It meant they had to stop playing, stop having fun, slow down and then do boring things…like stand still and smile.

It got to be such a fight that I even put photography on the back burner for a while. I had to find a happy medium where my artist soul could be happy but still find a way not to torture my children.

Eventually with the help of Pinterest, educational websites (like Click it up a Notch!) and a whole lot of practice shooting in different kinds of light, I adopted a different style. Instead of “say cheese” my new motto became “let them play”.

My boys’ disdain for all things photography, among many other reasons, is one of the eight reasons why I’ve chosen to focus on the candid details.

  • No.
    The Revolt

    This is probably the biggest reason why I changed my approach from posed to more candid. Both my boys and even my husband would huff and puff when they saw my camera. My jumping in and stopping the action led to temper tantrums, tears and frustration for everyone.

    I even found myself getting upset with my boys for not cooperating for a picture, and I never wanted to be that person when I started on this journey.

    As my style evolved my children’s natural laughter became my absolute favorite thing to shoot because that is the way I’ll want to remember the golden days of their childhood.

  • No.
    Documenting Personalities

    My kids have gotten good at ignoring my camera and know they don’t have to smile (if they don’t want to) and they get to keep playing as if my camera wasn’t there. When I first started getting more natural shots I would guide them or just talk to them to distract from the fact my camera is in their face.

    If I miss the action I’ll tell them “That so was funny! Do it again!” or maybe “Wow! That was so cool, I bet you can’t do that again!”

    For older kids, it works great to show them the pictures you take so they understand what they’re helping create. After all, when you allow your children to just be themselves their authentic personalities will show. And isn’t that better than their “cheese” face?

  • No.
    Creative Outlet

    When you’re looking for natural moments or details you will have endless possibilities! You can creatively crop in camera or in post processing, you can use the light or shadows, different focus points, even editing to tell the story. Photography can be your creative outlet if you give it wings.

  • No.
    More Active

    Photography has encouraged both me and my tablet-loving children to get outside, go on an adventure, check out a new park, hiking trail or lake. I try to do at least one new fun thing each week. Now I’m more conscious these days of making memories with my boys– babies grow so fast!

  • No.

    I love having pictures of my family on the walls. It’s meaningful art and a visual reminder of good times that we’ve had together, but I for one think that you can only have so many posed “smiling at the camera” pictures on the wall.

    Nowadays there are so many options in how you can display your work and if your kids are like mine, they love to see themselves and talk about how fun that vacation was or reminisce about that fish they caught with their Dad.

  • No.
    Out of My Comfort Zone

    I consider myself more of an introvert and photography has helped me come out of my shell. I take my camera almost anywhere now and taking picture in public can be a bit scary! What if people stare at you and think you’re crazy? What if you drop your camera?

    Over time my desire to get the image I wanted became greater than the fear of what others thought of me. Now I wear my “crazy lady with the big camera” badge proudly. After all, my children will never be this young again.

  • No.
    Slow Down

    Photography has encouraged me to slow down and see the beauty of the light that is everywhere. Even when I’m not holding my camera I’m more likely now to notice a pretty sunset or the way the light streams in the window. Everyone can benefit from slowing down and seeing the beauty right in front of them!

  • No.
    Embracing Imperfections

    A lot of the time in photography (and life) things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes if I just let if flow the image actually turns out better than I pictured in my head.

    When initially started transitioning into more natural shots I would give some guidance to my kids and most importantly never told them to ‘act natural.’ (Nothing kills the mood more than someone telling you to pretend the camera is not there.)

    Mostly, I just talked to them, made jokes, asked questions about what they were doing and also was gentle on myself when I missed the shot. There will always be a next time, especially now that my boys find photography as a positive thing!


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