As mothers we spend most of our days taking care of our kids, running errands, preparing meals, cleaning the house, doing dishes, washing laundry, working, and then when we stop and grab the camera we tend to focus on capturing our kids. Let’s face it, those little being are always cute even with bed head hair or food smeared on their faces, adults not so much. I can’t tell you how many days I don’t even shower until dinner time because we haven’t left the house in days and I am busy cleaning and playing with kids so the last thing I want to do is jump in front of the camera.
Well when I started to look back at photos of our family I realized that I was missing from our story. I would capture all these beautiful everyday moments and routine as well as major milestones of the kids but I was always behind the camera. As hard as it may be to be in the image (we all have our own reasons- don’t like the way we look that day, want to lose weight, too busy, etc.) we have to remember that we were there too. When our kids look back through photos of their childhood it’s so important for them to see mom and dad and to remember how we looked and that we were there at all those special moments too.
This past year I have really tried to get into the frame too. I am not talking about using my cell phone and stretching my arms out to take a selfie (those have their place) but to really be in the story. Those of you who follow my work know that I don’t tend to stop the moment to have my subjects face me and smile (though sometimes the moment calls for those I know) but I prefer to capture the moment as they happens. Think about how you remember moments of life, are the kids standing there posed looking at you or at the memories of playing and engaged in activities? Try to capture those moments just as you remember them.
I know you are thinking, well how can I take these if I am just one person at home with these little people? I personally do not tend to hand my camera over to someone else to take images of me very often because most of the time the photos they take are very different than the story I want to tell (even while looking at the same subject and in the same environment). While I have a fancy tripod and a remote for my camera I pretty much never use it. I dial in my exposure (you can always use auto too if that works best for you), set the camera to the timer mode (I have mine set to interval so it take one photo every 4 seconds for a series of 9 images in a row), and prop my camera up on whatever happens to be nearby. I will use a bench, the stroller, a dresser, a bucket, dashboard, etc. As long as it’s at the height I need and is sturdy enough for my camera to not get knocked over I will use it. I don’t plan these self portraits, they are moments that while happening I think would be nice to capture so I quickly grab my camera and snap a few images. I love using the timer mode because I can set it and then let the camera capture whatever moment happens.
For those of you who might feel awkward in front of the camera let me say I totally get it! My best tip is be sure you have something else to focus on instead of just you and the camera. You can see from my photos below I am not smiling looking at the camera but have a connection with someone in the photo, generally laughing. This not only helps the subjects feel more relaxed but tells a much better story since you are capturing connection and emotion.
I encourage you to be in the frame, not only for yourself but for your little ones. Whether you set the camera up with a timer, use your phone, have someone else take it for you the point is to be present and in the photo. Have fun, document your life, and remember we were there too!