4 Lessons That Changed The Way I Photograph My Family | Central Valley Photographer

When my children were younger, I wanted to take the happiest photos I could. I wanted big silly smiles and bright eyes looking right at the camera. Doesn't every mom? When I didn't get THAT photo, I was frustrated. I was snappy. And it wasn't pretty. They started avoiding the camera. The photos weren't genuine, and their smiles were fake. 

Lesson 1. Sometimes the "outakes" are more meaningful then the posed photos with forced smiles. Try taking a photo of them just being. Playing, eating, running, sleeping. They don't have to be smiling or looking at the camera. 

I learned to read my children's moods, and let them decide what kind of photo they wanted to create. Sometimes this meant quietly documenting them from across the room. Other times it meant using photography to connect with them, by asking them questions, or being silly, or daring them to try something new. Just being PRESENT, regardless of what photos we got. I made it a game.

Lesson 2. Don't make your family hate your camera. Have fun taking photos, connect with your kids, and know when to take a step back. That's when you'll get the best photos.

Backgrounds and dirty faces used to drive me crazy. I didn't want to be THAT mom. The one that always had a dirty house in photos. By the time I cleaned everyone up though, the moment was gone, and no one wanted to participate. It took me a long time to let go of that and embrace the moment for it's value. Not every photo needs to be a portrait, for it to be worth documenting. 

Lesson 3. If the moment is there, capture it. Don't worry about the toys. They are part of your story, and that's ok. Sometimes life is beautifully messy.

The more photos I took of my family, the more I was drawn to certain types of photos. I LOVED photos with beautiful light, or intense emotion. I wanted photos that made me FEEL something deep in my soul. But how could I get more of those?? I had to learn to slow down, and look for the light. I had to stop being in such a hurry, and wait for the emotion.

Lesson 4. Take your time. Don't try to rush. Look around and position yourself in a way, that light falls nicely on your subject. Look for the shadows too, because they can create amazing drama. Try different angles. Instead of directing your children, wait for the emotion to unfold in front of you. Magic might just happen, if you are patient. <3

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