My photography journey (specifically my time as a Clickin Mom) has been challenging to the extent that my kids were a little older when I got serious about photography and I was constantly discouraged by two facts.
- It seemed everyone was posting carefree, fun and playful images of their babies and toddlers and my older kids just weren’t so playful or cute and easy to photograph.
- I was overwhelmed with the feeling I had already missed my chance to capture my children’s childhood in a beautiful way.
Once I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and instead embrace where we were as a family, I was able to notice the beauty in their “older kid” life. Not necessarily in the happy, playful moments (although we have those too), but also in the moody and quiet moments.
I recognized that it was never too late to start documenting their childhood so I made it my goal to capitalize on every moment and find a way to capture them in all of their preteen/teenage glory. As a mother of six, I’ve had a lot of practice with learning to meet them on their terms and I’ve discovered a few things that have helped me not only get them to let me photograph them, but dare I say actually enjoy it…well sometimes anyway. I have come to truly appreciate these “in-between” years and I love being able to capture what has now become my favorite stage to photograph. I’m excited to share a few of the things I’ve learned with you and while they could surely be applied in any area of photography, I have found them to be especially helpful with my older kids.
There is beauty even in the routines of life – notice it.
I wanted so badly to get “the” shot and I found myself trying to create moments or pressuring my kids into interesting or ideal scenarios. It wasn’t until I slowed down that I was able to notice that those beautiful moments were already happening right in front of me, just waiting to be photographed if I would only be more patient. I learned that by being more observant during the down times of the day, I would be rewarded with someone sitting in the perfect light to do homework or soaking up the sun in a spot with beautiful framing. Sure, my kids weren’t making bubble murals in the bathtub for me to photograph, but they did have an amazing ability to sit still.
Bring your camera with you everywhere.
Last year I completed a 365 project and it was probably the single best thing I’ve done for my photography. It forced me to carry my camera with me everywhere. Motivated by the desire to change things up, I began to pull my camera out wherever we went and this opened a world of opportunities for me to photograph. I’m not saying you have to commit to a 365, but if you try to have your camera out and easily accessible often, your odds for capturing THE moment increase exponentially. Also, not only will you be more likely to grab your camera and use it, but almost more importantly, your kids will get so used to it being there they will stop caring or even noticing that you are photographing them.
Capitalize on their interests and what motivates them.
When my kids are doing what they love they are less concerned with what I’m doing with my camera. In fact, I’ve found that since they’re older they can even recognize the value in recording these moments they will want to remember. You can use their maturity to your advantage and talk to them about recording their history or share a scrapbooking project together (or let them do their own). When I place value on something they love by photographing it, it honors them in a way that helps them understand how much I value them and they are always more willing to let me photograph them.
As an added bonus, by knowing what motivates them you can often make a bargain – “I will take that picture you want to use for Instagram if you will stand over there and let me play with light for 2 minutes”. In these brief moments of compromise, I have been able to explore and create images just for me.
Narrow your perspective to isolated areas.
By narrowing what you choose to include in the frame, you can give them more space and be less intrusive. On days when my kids aren’t necessarily feeling like having their picture taken they are often willing to let me photograph them without including their face etc. These kinds of photographs can often tell a more powerful story by isolating only a part of them and I cherish the tangible memories they invoke. An added benefit is getting to experiment with using creative and more expressive perspectives.
Photograph them together.
I LOVE watching as my kid’s interact with each other! There is nothing that makes my heart sing quite like capturing the special moments they share. These sibling relationships are some of the few relationships they will carry throughout their life and there is great value in documenting them. Like the previous points, when you photograph them together they are less concerned about you and your camera. In fact, they almost never mind when I pull my camera out if they are busily engaged in something together.
One final note: I am so thankful for the learning process. As I have worked on becoming a better photographer, by default I have accumulated countless images that I probably would not have taken otherwise. Because I wanted to take better pictures, I forced myself to try and try and try again. Looking back, these images have become priceless treasures to me. As I was taking them I was often more concerned about the lighting or where my focus landed etc. and many times I was underwhelmed with the results. But, time has a way of softening the imperfections and highlighting the moments past and I’m thankful to have captured the memories. Like many of you, I am always seeking to improve my photography and critical where I fall short, but I would encourage you to be generous with yourself and keep taking those pictures – even (maybe especially) when your subjects become more difficult to photograph.