I am super happy to offer this guest post here today by my sweet online friend Beryl Ayn Young. I asked her to write a post that would encourage us to get in the pictures with our children while also encouraging family memories. We need proof of these memories for ourselves — and for our kids.
By: Beryl Young
I had been saying for WEEKS that my daughter and I should make rice krispie treats together, but here we were 8 whole weeks into summer vacation, all the ingredients nicely tucked away in our pantry, and I still hadn’t done a thing with them.
The perfectionist in me was waiting for the perfect opportunity.
Where my husband would be there to assist and I could be behind the lens making beautiful memories of sticky fingers and sweet smiles.
I had built up a vision of how our perfect activity would unfold, and if the conditions weren’t living up to the ideal in my mind, I just didn’t even try.
But really, as a mom, when are the conditions ever ideal?
As she napped away on this particular August day, the guilt of putting off our fun together ate away at me.
So I decided to do something about it.
I got out a piece of paper and brainstormed exactly what we’d do together when her nap time was complete. Where we’d prep our ingredients, the types of pictures I envisioned snapping, and the way I wanted to FEEL as we made this memory together.
Then I got to work setting my intention and making this afternoon brainstorm a reality.
While she slept I collected my ingredients and set them all out on the table so they’d be ready when she woke up.
Rice Krispies. check.
Bowl, cups, spoons. check.
I charged my camera battery and got out the accessories that would make it easier for her and I to be in photos together.
I put aside my expectations and fears, deciding to say YES that afternoon. Yes to the idea that this might be messy, that the photos might not turn out, that the activity may be a big huge flop.
And you know what?
When I did that, everything unfolded just as it should have. Was the afternoon perfect? No!
Did we make a mess? Yes!
Was it fun? Absolutely!
And the images I have of her and I from this day are some of my favorites.
Shawn will teach you the power of saying YES to your kids, which is what I chose to do that day. But how about saying yes to YOU too. Yes to putting yourself in front of the camera lens. With your kids and for your kids.
You may feel like you have 10 (or more) pound to lose, that your yoga pants should never show up in a photo, or that your wrinkles and blemishes need a fresh coat of makeup before anyone snaps a picture of you.
But your fears and insecurities are not what your kids see. Those are never what your kids see. I promise.
When you ask them years from now what they remember when they see photos of you and them, they’ll tell about the fun you had, the love you shared, and the memories you made.
So instead of putting your energy into worry, fear, and guilt, today we’re going to channel our energies into saying YES as I give you strategies to get both you and your kiddos in photos together.
Let’s get cooking up some beautiful images with these 5 tips.
Practice taking self portraits
When I say self portrait, I’m not talking about what you may typically think of as the teenage selfies all over your Facebook newsfeed. This is about using the timer feature on your camera (tip #2), being brave, and getting a bit more creative. The more you simply put YOU in front of the lens the more comfortable you’ll become. You don’t ever have to show anyone these images if you don’t want, but by taking pictures of yourself will test the waters to find the right angles and setups you feel the most comfortable in behind the lens.
Find the timer feature on your camera
No matter what kind of camera you own there should be a way to delay the shutter from clicking for at least 10-20 seconds. Look for the icon on your camera that looks like a clock. When you push the shutter the camera will likely begin to beep. My camera beeps get fast right before the shot is about to take. This timer will give you a chance to set up your camera on a sturdy surface or tripod, push the shutter button, and then put yourself in the frame before the photo snaps.
Get yourself an assistant
The easiest way to do this is by asking your husband, a friend, or even a stranger to snap a photo for you. If that’s just not possible and the mad dash into the frame with a timer isn’t your thing, there are several accessories that can help make self-portraits of just you or you and your kids easier. A remote shutter release is a special tool that will allow you to push a button and activate the shutter when you are ready. A study tripod will allow you to set up a variety of compositions in any location. Want my recommendations for what you’ll need. Here they are!
Have an activity, game, or conversation starter at the ready
Instead of telling your kids that you’re about to take pictures of them (again!) get them excited about an activity or event surrounding the photo taking. Tell them you’re about to say yes to finally making those rice krispie treats together, having a snowball fight outside, or finger painting after naptime (bonus points if you paint each other’s faces in the process!). If an elaborate activity isn’t on the agenda, a good ol’ fashioned tickle fight in bed always works wonders to get some great smiles and natural expressions of you all together.
Commit yourself to practice
The more you can practice putting yourself in front of the lens and playing with your kiddos the easier it will become to get you in the photos with them. By practicing self portraits you’ll learn the ways you feel most beautiful and at ease in front of the camera, by practicing with timers, tripods, and remotes you’ll get quicker at setting up scenes and shots that will get everyone in on the action, and by practicing and planning family activities, events, and conversations you’ll automatically have photo worthy moments at your fingertips.
Need a way to jumpstart your efforts? Join me for a free photo lesson ‘One Ingredient Fix’ where we’ll be tackling the #1 ingredient I see moms misuse most frequently in their photography (hint: it’s something I’ve talked about here today). No prior photography knowledge or experience is necessary to be a part of this class – register HERE and get started now!
Beryl Ayn Young is mother, teacher, photographer, and creator of Momtographie Online class. She believes in helping moms all over the world with lessons and classes aimed at using a camera to love their photos and their life.