Family photos are my true passion. As parents and carers it is our task to weave the stories of our children’s lives into the story of our families. We pass down stories which we ourselves were told by our elders, giving personal history to world events or simply providing a connection with our past. The emotional value of these stories and the pictures that go with them is immeasurable. The pictures we are taking now are the story of this generation of parents and children; it is the chapter you are writing in your family’s history.
From big events and celebrations to the hum drum we are there with our cameras, quietly capturing the unfolding relationships of our children with the world around them. From the funny pictures you’ll threaten to bring out in their teen years to the repeating themes which connect your own childhood memories with your children and the children they will one day have themselves. Each and every moment is one to celebrate.
My approach to family photos is a combination of sitting back and capturing as moments unfold and working with my children to record moments in time.
The beauty of everyday life is often overlooked as we still carry that film mentality – only getting the camera out for special occasions because photos were expensive. Thankfully digital allows to shoot without the worry of wasting film.
When capturing unscripted moments there are a few steps I follow to ensure I’m ready for the moment when it comes:
- Have the camera with you at all times. I know it’s easy to let your phone be the main camera but it isn’t always the best quality so do keep your main camera close at hand.
- Get yourself in position. Think about where the best light is and move so you are taking advantage of it.
- Test your settings. If you have your aperture and shutter adjusted before the moment happens you’ll be thanking yourself afterwards.
- Give them time to relax. Chances are as soon as the camera comes out they react to it. Bide your time and let them relax back into what they are doing.
While it may have all the hallmarks of a wildlife shoot being prepared is the best tool in your kit. I have a friend who’ll set up his camera in the corner of the room at parties and use a remote trigger to catch the action without drawing attention to the camera.
When it comes to getting their cooperation on a shot it can be hit and miss. Occasionally they will hide their faces and giggle wildly as they avoid the lens. Thankfully these camera-shy moments don’t last too long and they will willingly gather for a minute or so to grab a family photo.
Some of the things which are key in making the most of their cooperation are:
- As above, having your settings ready before they are in the shot. As my uncles never tire of telling me – standing around for my grandfather to set the camera was the most tiresome thing of their childhood.
- Use a tripod and remote. Especially with young children being able to make eye contact and interact makes for a far better image. You can also get in the photo with them.
- Have someone on hand to act the fool. In the image at the bottom of this post my children are laughing because my husband is stood behind me doing something terrible. They enjoy these moments of silliness and it brings out their joy.
However you approach family photos, collecting the moments of your children’s life is an investment in your memories.
Kat Molesworth is a Photographer and lifelong camera enthusiast. She works for a range of commercial and private clients and teaches photography workshops in the UK.
Kat is also Director of Blogtacular, the conference for creative bloggers. You can find her on Instagram as @thatkat and she writes her personal blog at Housewife Confidential.