by Heidi Hicks
I started my photography journey when my niece and nephew were babies. I vowed to learn how to use a camera so that when I had children of my own, they wouldn’t go months (or years in some cases) without nice pictures like my own niece and nephew.
Fast-forward seven years; my own son is two and a half (and super awesome). And while I have thousands of client images on my computer, there’s only a small folder of pictures of him. Guilt of being behind on work and not wanting to work on something personal ahead of clients was the main culprit. Not wanting to ‘work’ when I didn’t need to be was another. It wasn’t until I was finishing up a session in my home studio and Beckett asked, ‘take my picture too, mommy?” that I remembered the reason I wanted to do photography in the first place.
At two, he’s not super into sitting for pictures so we grabbed one of his favorite things (his new airplane) and headed out the front door and across the street for a nine-minute session. This little grassy area sits right in between housing developments, not making it an ideal location for a session – but using what we had, where we were, I captured these quick pictures of my sweet boy who will never be this little again.
Here are some tips to take pictures of your own little ones where they are right now:
- Don’t force it. When Beckett was little, we did the weekly/monthly shots in the chair with his current age on the wall behind him (you know the ones). He wasn’t always in the mood for a photo shoot and I didn’t want him to hate being in the studio so I never forced it. Some of those (crabby boy, outtake) shots have ended up being some of my faves. As he’s gotten older, I’ve waited for him to be in the mood for pictures. It’s often a long (not so patient) wait on this end but it’s worth it to get genuine smiles once he’s ready.
- Plan ahead of time. Have a plan of attack and everything (clothes/props/etc.) ready to go so that when they are in a great mood you can execute the ‘session’ in record time. Suckers and/or jellybeans as a special treat at the end were in my bag. (As a former child development teacher, I’m not saying you should bribe your little one for pictures but in an effort to keep things real, I’m not saying I didn’t…)
- Make it fun. Choose a location they love or a new one they’ll love to explore. Incorporate a favorite toy or activity if you can. Take time between shots to chase, tickle and laugh together.
- Bring an assistant if you can. Daddy held the reflector, told jokes and helped with jellybean distribution. He was priceless.
- Print and display the pictures for your little one to enjoy. Beckett LOVES seeing pictures of himself hanging in our home. Once in awhile when he’s looking at them is when he asks me to take his picture again.
- Limit your time behind the camera. Don’t spend their entire childhood behind the lens. Take the time to set the camera down and really soak up the stage they are in right now.
The cliché is true about them growing up fast. Play with them, take it all in, and take the time to capture them where they are today.
Heidi Hicks, Iowa
website | facebook
Child development teacher by trade, working from home mom by grace, Heidi has been capturing pictures of other people’s families for seven years (not counting the short stint in fifth grade when she set up a DIY ‘glamour shots studio’ in the living room of her childhood home). She and her husband, Rusty, have a two-and-a-half year old, Beckett, who loves going on park adventures with his mom (they’re trying to get to 100 this year) and once in awhile lets her take his picture.