Mom STOP and get IN the Picture
Be Sure to Follow Sixth Bloom
A couple years ago I read an amazing article about Mom’s being there, too- in regards to photographer mamas getting in the picture with their kiddos- and realized that I was avoiding getting in the picture with my family. A lot. I was great at documenting my kids, and my husband interacting with my kids, but since I was the photographer, I just didn’t prioritize being in the photo as well. It was a lightbulb moment for me, and it changed my process in how I document my own family, as well as my own clients families. I hope my story and how I’ve overcome obstacles and challenged myself will be an “a-ha” for you too!
After pondering why I was avoiding being in the photos too, I realized I was being pretty hard on myself about my appearance. You know the drill: the baby weight that wouldn’t come off, my hair that wasn’t quite as full as it used to be, and even my “mom clothes” that I found myself wearing day in and day out. And, then I became frustrated with myself- realizing that most of my appearance issues wouldn’t change quickly- but even more so, that my children were missing out on pictures of their mama with them during their sweet baby/toddler/and Preschool stages. All because I wasn’t confident enough to snap photos of myself for their sake. As a photographer, I do everything I can to capture that special bond between my clients and their sweet children. Motherhood is one of the most beautiful relationship connections to me. I love having the opportunity to highlight that relationship for other moms. But I wasn’t allowing myself to capture my own motherhood. I knew that had to change immediately. So I resolved to try to get into the frame with them more.
Here is where I hope I can help you- Mom who just had her “a-ha, I need to get in the photo more, too!” moment. Mom that is thinking- “there’s no way that I’m going to photograph myself, today or any day”. Mom who is just like me, wishing there was a way to be more “Pinterest-worthy”… and yet realizing that you are beautiful to your children & to your family- and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And your family- your beholders, if you will- are all that really matter, anyways.
Here’s how I managed to pull off getting in the picture with my children, my husband, my family on a more regular basis:
Tip #1 I learned to pass the camera off to my hubby, to my mom/sisters, to friends, even to strangers- and ask them to take a few pictures. All of whom willingly did so!
Tip #2 When handing your camera off- Set your camera’s shutter speed higher than you would if you were taking it (1/250 or 1/400, for example, instead of 1/125). Stop down a little more than you might normally shoot- I tend to shoot really wide open, but a smaller aperture will guarantee you & your kids/family are in focus (F3.5 or 4 for instance, instead of F2.5). This may mean you have to bump up your ISO depending on your lighting scenario, and of course, may introduce some grain. Grain is not a big deal to me, within reason of course. It’s a personal preference, so if it bothers you- find a spot to shoot that has great light so you don’t have to worry about the grain with a high ISO.
Tip #3 Set your focus mode to the most “auto” that it can be. This way the person snapping for you doesn’t have to learn how to toggle, or back-button-focus! Always explain the half-shutter press for focus, then click.
Tip #4 This is probably an obvious one, but I always put my camera strap around their neck when I hand my camera to someone- because I would NEVER want my camera dropped!
Tip #5 I learned to use my interval timer on my camera, set up the tripod, and have random snaps of me & my family.
Tip #6 I shoot Nikon, but other brands may not have the interval timer option.
Tip #7 Another way to achieve a similar process would be to use a wireless remote. I’ve used a remote in the past, but found for my own personal style- I would rather capture the candid, unposed shots vs. the posed.
Tip #8 Although we do sometimes look at the camera for a minute for the “picture perfect” shots, I then want everyone to get into whatever we’re doing after the first couple clicks of the timer. The interval timer is amazing for forgetting about the camera after a little while & getting documentary/lifestyle shots of your own family.
Tip #9 Set the interval timer to go off every 15-30 seconds, take 2/3 shots, and put in a large total amount of shots. This will ensure you get plenty of keepers as well as variety in your “mini-session”.
This is a particularly fun thing to do at birthday parties, Christmas morning, doing arts & crafts- where you just want to participate & not be behind the camera the entire time.
Tip #10 I do session swaps with local photographers, and hire other photographers as well. Sessions can range from pretty, posed photos- to documentary, lifestyle- to mini-sessions.
( Tammi Ambrose Photography – Lifestyle Family session)
Tip #11 This is such an easy one, if you’re part of a network of local photographers. If you’re not part of a network, or at least have a couple local photographers that you are friends with- I’d really encourage you to seek that out! The groups that I’ve been a part of locally have been so rewarding to participate in.
Tip #12 Another opportunity for session swaps & hiring other photographers would be to meetup with photographers you’ve met online- while you’re traveling, and do vacation photos with someone that you’ve become friends with- but don’t know yet in person.
Tip #13 Locally- put yourself out there and ask another photographer if they’d be interested in swapping a family session! At the very least, a lot of photographers would be willing to take a few shots of you with your kiddos at a meetup you’re attending together. Especially if you offer to do the same for the other photographer.
Tip #14 Setup a meetup specifically for “Mommy & Me” photos, and make sure to invite all the local photographers you know, or your local photography group, or just a few other photographer friends.
Tip #15 I’ve even done a few series of self-portraits that don’t have my kiddos in them at all. I haven’t gotten as good at this with my own artistic vision just yet, and I have a ways to go in learning how to create what I’m wanting to produce. So I’ll spare you pictures of my self-portraits for the time being. However, this is another way of documenting yourself, and pushing yourself out there. For you. For your kids. For therapy. Or artistic growth. Or whatever your reason- or for no reason. I’ve found Self-Portraiture is taking me more time to develop a style. It can be difficult because you are finding exactly the right angle, spot of focus, and then getting the correct pose is difficult when you’re photographing yourself. Have patience, and continue experimenting if it’s something you enjoy.
Mom, as we get close to Mother’s Day- give yourself the Gift of being in the photo with your child/children, and with your family. Figure out a way to make it happen this week, and then print something from what you capture as a Mother’s Day gift to yourself. Or create a mini-album to throw into your purse. Don’t be hyper critical of your appearance. Remember who you’re shooting for- you, and your family. If you really LOVE what you capture, or just want to push yourself a bit more- then share your photos for the rest of the world to see as well! Encourage the other moms in your life to do the same.
Be Sure to Follow Sixth Bloom