It’s still Monday, right?
Awesome. For a minute there I thought I’d missed my deadline and let you all down. I certainly wouldn’t want to do that! And I definitely wouldn’t ever want to do anything like waiting an entire week between blog posts.
But as I was saying, today is Monday and I’d never let you down, right?
If you’re just joining us then you’ve stumbled across my ongoing series of posts geared toward helping moms (and dads!) capture everyday moments with their kiddos. You may want to brush up on the first two entries here and here where we talked about “Filling the Frame” and “Showing the Scene.”
Today I’d like to introduce you to a little something I like to call, “Be Different.”
Here’s what “be different” entails:
You know all those old photographs you have from when you were a kid? The ones that you could just cut your face out of and paste someone else’s into and they’d swear it was their childhood photograph? Like, you + siblings in front of the tree on Christmas morning. You + lunchbox at your front door on the first day of school. You + your first bowl of spaghetti. You + frilly smocked dress + Easter basket. I like to call those shots “first instinct moments.” They’re the pictures that make you grab your camera because they demand to be documented. I mean, really, would your mother every forgive you if you didn’t photograph your child in their Easter finery? I didn’t think so.
So take those first instinct shots. But then think beyond them. As I’ve asked you to do for the last two weeks, stop and consider the story you want to tell. Is the story you want to tell on Easter Sunday that you got up, dressed up, and headed out the door? Or is the real story that your daughter came out of her room that morning wearing the very 80’s hairbow that definitely did not match her carefully planned outfit and tried to slip out the door without anyone noticing? Be Different. Take the unexpected shot. Tell the story behind the first instinct moments.
Sometimes that means grabbing your camera at unconventional times. Like say, right before you head to the emergency room. (yes, we’ve covered this “B”fore.)
And sometimes it just means changing your angle so that the normal American family scene that’s being played out before your eyes is reinvigorated with a fresh perspective. (Christmas morning tea, anyone?)
Another benefit of changing your angle and photographing your subject from above is that you’ll often find that you capture a small peek into your child’s world in the form of little details. Like the matchstick carrots my daughter was munching on as she practiced writing her name and studied up on the American presidents. A little strange? Perhaps. Memorable and worth photographing? Most definitely.
One way to fully embrace being different and taking the unexpected shot is by assessing the way everyone else is photographing the moment at hand and then doing the opposite. When every person at the birthday party has his/her camera trained on the birthday girl from across the table, concede that angle to them. Then quietly make your way to the seat right next to the birthday girl and get the inside scoop on the action. (And maybe a priceless look in the process.)
(By the way, this is my hands-down favorite way to photograph the big candle-blowing moment, so I have lots of these…)
And when everyone else is on the outside of the bouncehouse, trying to negotiate a clear shot of the kids being shaken and stirred inside politely say your excuse me’s and jump right in! Be Different.
Sometimes being different will mean foregoing the actual “moment” entirely. When my daughter played Mary in the Christmas pageant last year I thought I wanted a few shots of her on stage. Until I took this one five minutes before the play began…
…and then I knew I could sit back, relax and enjoy the show (literally). The story behind two four year olds cast as Mary and Joseph had already been told.
And occasionally there will be times (like a baptism or wedding) when taking photographs during the event is just not an option. But no worries, you know how to be different! So you’re all set! You can capture the feel of the day just fine, even without a clear shot at the baptismal font.
After a while I hope you’ll find that being different and shooting that way takes loads of pressure off. When you can be confident that you’ve meaningfully documented the story that’s most important to you (remember this is about YOU and YOUR KIDDOS. period.) then you can relax and enjoy the big moments that much more. When my daughter turned four last year I grabbed these two shots in her room and out in the yard before her party began. They documented the dress we had painstakingly sewed together for her to wear to her party. Once I knew I had these, the rest of the shots were gravy. I knew my mama’s heart and memory was full.
So give it a try! Dare to be different and take the unexpected shot. And leave us a link in the comments if you’ve been inspired and would like to share. I’d love to see what you guys are coming up with!