Capturing the Details of Childhood


Capturing the Details of Childhood

5 Ways to Capture Children’s Relationships With Loved Ones Through Photos

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Children start developing strong relationships with the special people in their lives early on.  It starts with the deep bond between a baby and his parents and eventually the child’s world expands and he grows close to siblings, grandparents, cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and eventually friends and neighbors.

Some of these relationships may change over time, as the way a child relates to his brother matures from playing peek-a-boo to playing with trains to homework help and eventually dating advice.  Much-loved Grandparents may pass on.  Friends may change with each grade in school.  If you do not capture these special relationships now you may not get the chance to later.

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Portraits with the special people in a child’s life are nice but they do not fully capture the meaning of a relationship or the bond between two people.  In order to really capture a relationship through images there are some things to look for that can help document what two (or more) people mean to each other.

Mirroring:  Mirroring behavior, or parallel activity, shows people performing the same or very similar actions at the same time.  This type of image shows how closely people are in sync with one another.  A little sister may mirror her big brother’s habit of putting his finger under his mouth when he concentrates.  A son may mirror his father’s use of a screwdriver with a toy as his Dad fixes something around the house.  Look for ways children show their love and admiration for those with whom they are close by imitating what they see.

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Touching:  Physical closeness shows very clearly how close people are physically as well as emotionally.  When reading a book to his daughter a father may lean over and kiss her head.  A Grandmother may place her hand on top of her granddaughter’s hand when showing her how to write.  A boy giving a high-five to a friend or a girl painting her best friend’s nails shows how close children are to a classmate or neighbor.  Physical closeness in an image is especially poignant when two people are touching even though they don’t have to be, such as a brother and sister sitting so close that they are touching even though there is plenty of room to spread out or a mother and child cuddling on a full sized bed during story time.

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Interaction:  Showing interaction in an image is a great way to show closeness.  A father and baby smiling at one another shows how much the two enjoy each other.  Even an image of a child with tears in her eyes looking at her Grandmother shows closeness because it portrays how much the child trusts her Grandmother and how she chooses her to go to for comfort when she is upset.   In fact, nearly any image of two people looking at each other can show a close relationship, even a gaze from across a crowded room, such as a child looking at her mother from the stage during a school play.

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Activity:  Showing two people enjoying the same activity portrays the relationship between them well.  Two friends sitting together and reading, building with Legos, or  playing a game is also a nice way to capture not just who your children’s friends are at this stage in their lives but also how they liked to play with their friends.  A father and daughter throwing a ball to each other or a mother baking a cake with her children shows a close relationship, as well as activities children enjoy.

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Details:  It may not be necessary to have all people whose relationship you are portraying in the frame – sometimes you may not even need anyone at all.  A child making a special card for a friend or parent or even reading a card from someone special can show closeness between two people because it shows the effort someone is willing to go to in order to make someone else happy.  A mother hanging up decorations to surprise her son the morning of his birthday or even just an image of a note left on a table for a loved one can show the strong relationship and love between a child and someone special in his life.

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Jamie Davis Smith

Jamie is a mother of four based in Washington, DC.  She loves capturing everyday moments with her children.  She can be reached at jdavissmith03@gmail.com, on Facebook and @jamiedavissmith on Twitter. 

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