Mama (with a camera) Monday: Part III | huntsville children’s photographer

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!

Amy Erin,

Your photos, tips, and ideas never cease to amaze me but what I love the most is the time you take out of your busy schedule to share all of these with your blog readers. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and generosity. You are truly awesome! Hopefully I will be back with something to share!

Lacey Thank you for starting this series… thank you for being willing to share your knowledge with us! You are so talented and it is absolutely refreshing to me that you are graciously willing to teach and share. I am taking Karen Russell’s photography workshop and found you through her, and am so glad I did. You inspire me!

(And thanks for getting this post up today… I was excitedly waiting!)

Shauna I found you through Karen Russell’s site. You are amazing! I love the natural look of your photos and how you capture the story them. I’m excited that you have this photography series and can’t wait to continue learning through it.

I did something “different” a couple months back. I have six kids and decided one night to go around and capture what their “hands” were doing. There are no faces in the shots, just hands but they sum up our afternoon’s afterschool. Here is my link to the post-

Thanks again for sharing!

Jacki I LOVE the dress in the windo picture and your perspective (both photographically and phillosphy). Thanks for sharing!

Karen I am just a SAHM, don’t even have a blog. In these posts, it feels like your speaking to me :) THANK YOU! I am learning lots! I hope you someday do a post on editing too, that would be awesome–I’m a little lost in that area :)

Cathy I really enjoyed this post especially because I always feel so disheartened when I don’t get that planned shot. Your post help me appreciate what I do manage to get. Thanks. Here is a link to my blog.

Michelle Hi Erin – I am so excited about these M(WAC)M posts! I am always looking for tips and things to consider while taking pictures of my cutie – as well as currently trying to get ideas for some newborn shots for our newest cutie coming in November! Thanks so much for doing this! I also noticed that Karen Russel does an online photography course, which is currently sold out. Any possibility of you doing something like that in the future – you know, in your free time? 😉

Natalie Erin,
I love your series. I do believe you cannot have too many pictures of your kids. I would rather have too much then not enough.

I want Ivan to have that same sense of completeness when he gets older and looking back on his pictures as I do with mine. I still love looking at pictures of me when I was little. It does bring back a lot of memories. And then it brings to mind, that really the only thing we have left after we’re gone is our pictures to tell our story.

Allison Erin-

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. I am always looking for new photography tips and after finding your blog, I feel like I have hit the “mother” load! Thank YOU!

TidyMom Thanks SOOO much for this series I’m really enjoying it!! I’ve really been trying to “think outside the box” with my photography lately….and this post really helped with more ideas!!
I sometimes struggle with Aperture……I tend to keep it too wide open for some shots…can you tell me what aperture you may have used in the shots with the birthday kids and cupcakes?

Thanks again for taking the time to write these posts and letting us into your head! lol Have a great week!

Nicole Thanks so much for the inspiring series! I have been chronicling my practice each week, and definitely have improved my pictures. Here is my most recent endeavor:

Lorena Mora Ooh I love this one, I’m always critized because I don’t get the shot everyone expects. I’m no photographer but I know that I like different shots, rather than the one, which is why I dislike photo places at malls and such. I am definitely going to practice some more, I love the side photo of B-Ro blowing out his candles you can see his cheeks and puckered lips, Love It! Thanks for these posts, I’m learning a lot.

blissmamaof3 You are truly amazing and so generous to share you talent and tips with the rest of us. Thank you and would you please consider teaching an online class? I know there would be a great deal of interest, you are such an inspiration!

Mama with a Camera | Cupcakes and Commentary […] was super excited to read the next post from Erin Cobb’s blog series that I have been following. This series was entitled “Be […]

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