I love a good posed family photo as much as the next person.
Most of the family photos we take for the me and mine project each month are the type where we cwtch up together and smile for the camera. I’m incredibly happy that I started taking those pictures every month and love having this photographic record of our children gradually changing.
These photos do also bring back memories of the time they were taken. I remember standing by the lake at Bluestone and taking a family photo back in 2017. Looking at the photos from Singleton park and Parc le Breos that we took last summer brings back the memories of those family walks.
What I really love though are the less posed photos. The ones where no one is really looking at the camera. The ones that include details in the background that we’ll love to discover in the years to come. These are the photos that, for me, hold the real memories of our family life.
If you’d like to capture more real memories in your family photos then these tips will help:
Capture the fun
Instead of getting your children to pose and smile for the camera, think about photographing them when they’re in the middle of an activity they love.
Whether it’s giggling on the swings at the park, baking cakes together, curled up reading books or engrossed in building a lego creation, find something they love doing at this stage in their lives and photograph them doing it.
In a few years time when your days at the playpark are long gone you’ll love looking back at photos of your children when they were small, whizzing down the slide and feeding the ducks.
The main thing to remember here is to keep it fun. Don’t direct your children. Just let them get stuck in and capture things as they happen.
Change your perspective
If you always take your photos from the same standing position then it’s time to mix things up a bit.
Lie down on the floor and take photos of your baby during tummy time. Or stand directly over them and take photos from a birds eye view of them on their play mat.
When your children are at the park stand under them when they’re at the top of the climbing frame to give an idea of how high up they felt up there.
Changing your perspective when you photograph your family doesn’t just make your pictures more interesting, it also helps you capture your children’s memories the way that they are experiencing them.
Capture the important places too
In the age of perfect instagram photos with clutter-free backgrounds in pristine white rooms it can be tempting to think that all our photos should be completely free of background distractions. And yes, sometimes photos benefit from a bit of cleaning up and moving stuff out of the way to make sure the focus is on the people not the clutter.
For our personal photo albums though there is a real and necessary place for photos that capture our real homes and all the stuff that is in it.
The photos that I love from my childhood are the ones where I can examine the background and see my favourite toys and books on the shelves. I sent an old photo to my sister recently from when we were teenagers and we both loved the fact that it featured all the posters she had up in her bedroom back then.
Think about where you and your family spend time together and make a point of taking some photos in those places.
Get pictures of you curled up in bed reading a bedtime story. If you always feed the baby in the same spot on the sofa then get your partner to take a few photos the next time you do it. Get as high up as you can and photograph your children playing on the floor while it’s covered in lego pieces.
Let the cluttered backgrounds exist in some of your photos. There are so many memories hiding on your bookshelves, in the paintings stuck to the fridge and the tiny clothes drying on the airer in the living room.
Pay attention to the details
Next time you pick your camera take some time to focus on the little details of your family life as well as the big picture.
Zoom in on your son’s small hand clinging on to his favourite teddy bear.
Photograph those little curls around his ears.
Capture tiny baby toes and long eyelashes.
Some of my favourite photos of my children are just of their feet. Little trainers just about to disappear out of sight as they climb up the ladder at the park. Feet stretched up on tiptoes to see something or grab something just out of reach. Am I the only one who has a strange attachment to their children’s shoes, as if they’re little markers of different stages in their young lives?!
Hopefully these tips have helped you to think a bit differently about how you approach photographing your family and inspired you to capture more real memories and moments for you and your children.
Just make sure you get in front of the camera and in some of these photos too!