Guest post by mama & photographer, Huoy Chen. Huoy & Meredith are co-leading the Om Mama Collaboration How To Rock Your DSLR Photography 101 workshop on Sunday, June 23rd at 9:15am at General Porpoise in Pioneer Square. Om Mama Members get 50% off ticket price, register here!
Only Little Once
As a mom, I know that my daughters are only this little once. They change from day to day and there is so much that I want to document and remember forever about this stage in their lives. One of my favorite pastimes I love doing when I visit my parent’s house is looking at the old photo albums from my childhood and sharing them with my daughters.
I’m so thankful for what photography has enabled me to capture of our daughters’ childhood, so that I can remember these moments forever. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about photographing your own children that I’m excited to share with you! They are a mix of technical and practical tips so that you can document those special milestones and memories.
Find the Good Light
Wherever you are, you should find some where the light is that will best highlight your kids and not distract from them. This tip might seem a bit trivial, but it really does make a huge difference and is the reason why photographers prioritize lighting so much when they shoot. Inside your house, find a big south-facing window. This window will generally get the best light! If there’s too much direct light (where you can see direct sun rays hitting your child’s skin), I suggest adding a gauzy curtain that will help soften the light. Also, if you are shooting on a bed, keep the linens white or neutral. Beware of any colored linens or pillows which will reflect that same color back onto their skin.
Outside, it’s always a safe bet to place your kids in open shade. Look for shade that is uncovered (nothing overhead) and place your kids there. Trees are great sources of shade! Just make sure that you aren’t directly under the tree limbs, but on the side where it’s shadow is casting. Buildings have awesome shade as well, and you can generally find shade along a building at most points in the day.
If you don’t have access to open shade, my tip is to face your children’s face toward their own shadow. This means that their faces are in their own shade. Similar to the tip about the color linens, make sure to place them on a neutral surface, as any colored surface (like bright sun-lit grass) will reflect that color back onto their skin.
Treat Milestones as Traditions
Think about different milestones that you want to capture and make those into a tradition. Birthday photos and back-to-school photos are great examples. Not only are these important moments for you, but making them into a tradition will make it special for your children. You can share with them the last photo that they took and let them know that they are taking a new one! Just like you, they will enjoy seeing how they have grown from year to year.
During the baby stage, taking those monthly photos are fun (but also can be difficult). For these, choose one simple set-up and do the same thing each month. Keep in mind that once your child get mobile, these will get more and more difficult, so make sure to have your partner on hand to help replace the crawling baby! Also, it’s okay if the monthly photos don’t happen exactly on that specific day. We are busy parents and life doesn’t always happen on schedule. Give yourself some grace to do it around their monthly birthday and don’t stress out too much if it’s not exact.
Let them have fun
All parents know what true joy and happiness looks like on their child’s face. I love letting my daughters be just themselves. They love holding hands as they walk. They love being tossed in the air. Snuggles and kisses always bring out the smiles. These activities will instantly give that amazingly joyful spirit that I know I will want to remember always. Think about the activities that your children love to do. You’ll be able to get those smiles because they are just being themselves.
Similarly, children love moving around. Whenever my daughters may not be in the mood for photos, I think about ways to get them moving. Give them some cues that allows them to move, like jumping up and down, hugging each other, or even running. These activities will actually make them forget that they are taking photos and that they are instead having fun.
Beware of your shutter speed. You will need a faster shutter speed to capture your children in motion or it will result in a blurry photo. I suggest a minimum shutter speed of 1/200 to eliminate motion blur.
Print Your Photos
In this world of digital photography, it’s so easy to keep a ton of photos on your phone or computer. You should routinely print photos. I suggest doing a gallery wall where your photo frames create a collage. This also makes it easy to swap photos in and out of the frames. The other way to print your photos is to make a photo book. Many companies offer easy-to-use templates to design the layouts.
Use the Mom Rule
There are always exceptions to the rules. There are times when something important is really happening – their first step, their first smile – it’s not possible to put them in the best light or have them in that picture-perfect outfit since we can’t predict these things. Use the Mom rule. Just take the photo! Capturing that “first” is what matters.