My favorite photographs from when my girls were small include ripped and stained princess gowns, snotty noses, mismatched socks and lots of accessories (Sierra never left the house without several strands of pearls). The days were very long, the house was always a disaster and I rarely found time to shower, but life was simple and sweet, and a time I’ll never get back. While I still cherish the few family photos we have looking at the camera, looking clean and well rested … the images that are more true are the not-so-perfect ones.
The other day I came across a picture of the girls in Sierra’s bedroom. In the background, there were books and clothes everywhere. Sierra sat in only a diaper in the middle of all of it and Cassidy was just inside the frame looking guilty with an empty bag of gold fish by her feet. I got as close as I could to study the photo I recognized the cover of our favorite book..Sunggle Puppy!!! There was the sleeper that Cassidy wore so often that it wasn’t even fit for hand-me-down. That awful tri-toned, stenciled paint job I tried in the nursery. So much information was contained in this one, slightly out of focus, photo I took with my first digital SLR. Had I taken time to clean up the mess and dress the kids and remove the garbage, that picture would not feel as it does to me now; like home.
So, Campers, my challenge to you this week is to document what makes your story uniquely YOURS. Here are some tips for creating photos of your family that feel like “home” when you discover them down the road.
1. Keep your camera nearby and ready. Don’t miss the shot because your battery is dead or the card is full. You never know when your kid may appear with your high heels and a swim cap on. Be ready for it!
2. Think about your lighting. If you have soft, indirect light in your bedroom, open your shades and tell your kiddos to go tickle dad in bed. Document the joy from all angles (close, far, high, low) to tell the story from every perspective.
3. Be patient. I often sit and wait to get the shot. After a bit the kids don’t notice the camera and they quit giving you a cheesy smile. Try to wait quietly and see where the moment takes you.
4. Look for details. Little, chubby fingers, a toe sticking out of holed sock and yes… even the mess! Don’t clean up the mess, photograph it, then pick it up! You’ll want to remember that pile of shoes some day.
5. Use your depth of field. When there is a lot going on in the frame, a shallow depth of field will help guide your viewer to what you want them to notice most. This means the mess in the foreground will become blurry and not draw so much attention.
Have some fun with this. Not only is it an opportunity to take real photos of your family, but it’s also a great time to just feel the love.