Like many of us who start out in photography, my biggest motivation has always been to capture the fleeting moments of my own children.

I strive to create memories that not only capture their ever-changing faces, but tell the story of their personalities. With this in mind, my biggest fear has always been them running away from my camera.

I never wanted something that I love so much to become a stress in my relationship with my kiddos. I made a very conscious decision early on to do my best to avoid this.

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Four years into this venture, I can honestly say my girls have never asked me to put the camera away. While I am sure this day will come, I’ve learned a few things along the way that have ensured their continued enthusiasm and participation.

1. Avoid the bribe

I’ve never bribed my kids for photos and I’m pretty sure I never will. I want photography to remain something that’s a natural part of our family, and not something that my kids “do for me.” Additionally, I really focus on capturing genuine moments.

In the rare instance when I’ve taken an image when my girls were not on board, it doesn’t mean as much to me. As much as I enjoy the photos I take, I associate them with the moment they were taken. I want the memory of the moment to be a positive one.

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2. Let them be themselves

I definitely went through the phase of trying to force my girls to wear more photography friendly outfits, and it never went well. As much as their crazy colors and combos bother the photographer in me sometimes, I’ve had to let that go. My mission is to capture who they are, and they are rarely in coordinated outfits with perfect hair.

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3. Print your work

Printing my work regularly has been huge in terms of gaining my kids continued enthusiasm. For young children, a camera is a bit elusive — they know you’re taking pictures, but where are they?

I order prints on a monthly basis and the mirrors in my girls’ bedrooms are lined with their current favorites. They often ask me when I take an image they like “Can I have that one for my bedroom?”

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4. Shoot regularly, not constantly

My camera is out most days, but usually not for more than 10 minutes. My girls have learned to expect that big black box in front of my face, but it’s not the norm. Nobody wants to see that all day long!

Above all, embrace the chaos, document what makes them who they are, and show them your work. Ask for their ideas, humor their silly faces, and wait for the moment that makes your heart sing.

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