i got a big headstart
on taking great photos of my own family.
Thanks to a pre-30th-birthday mini-crisis leading me to run off to photography school, I was already a child + family photographer long before my son was born in 2011. What a gift that was! To me, to our extended familes, and to my son.
For me: I had already conquered the fear of the “grown up camera” and didn’t lose any time to learning how to use the thing – my hands already knew the ins and outs by heart. My creative mind already knew what choices to make, to capture the wonderful moments of daily life that suddenly overwhelmed me with their humor, beauty and power to move me. For my husband and our extended families, here was daily documentation of the kiddo who was taking over and lighting up our lives. Milestones, rituals, and every sweet or funny or awful moment in between was captured and shared. And for my son, once he was big enough to take notice: a visual record of HIS story – the story of his life as it unfolds, our history as a family, his face as it changes through the months and years. He loves these photographs.
I admit it: sometimes I cry happy/nostaglic tears when I look back at these old photos – how fast it all changes, how precious it was and how much more precious it becomes as I get farther in time from those days, to OWN those moments in photos I can return to again and again. Oh boy… here come the waterworks right now! How am I supposed to write and cry at the same time?
*sniff* pull yourself together woman!
In the spirit of helping every parent have and hold these visual memories, I’ve created this list to inspire you – and give your kids reason to THANK YOU later on, for protecting these memories for them by saving them in photographs.
This list isn’t the end-all for your documentarian endeavors — it’s a start, and I hope, an inspiration to help you *think* more like a photographer. One of my favorite photographers, Dorothea Lange, wrote: “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”
(Read more about learning to think like a photographer in my next blog post!) I hope the more you USE your camera, the more you SEE how much there is for you to shoot.
Eight Must-Have Photos
Your Kids Will Thank You For Later
- Newborn photos with YOU – whether at the hospital or as soon as you get home, capture the earliest days of their life, and be sure you’re in the picture – they’ll be captivated later to see you holding them and loving them before they even remember being.
- Siblings together as little kids. Don’t worry about perfect posing – this is for posterity, not the portrait gallery. Preferably playing. And if your kiddo is an only, capture them with their closest little friend or cousins – someone they’re as close to as a sibling.
- With their lovey or blanket. The days when they hold fast to those little things are fleeting.
- Favorite family pet. The pet that your kids grow up with probably won’t be alive when they’re older. Make sure you document that special relationship a kid has with the four-legged companions in your life.
- First lost tooth. That gap-toothed grin, the rite of passage from little kid to big kid, won’t last long. Follow up with a shot of those first too-big front teeth when they finally come in. Later you’ll straighten those teeth and you’ll find you miss those last traces of the baby your child was.
- Religious milestones – baptism, confirmation, bar or bat mitzvah – take time in those moments to make a good, beautiful portrait to mark the occasion.
- Vacations. You probably already take great vacation photos – remember to get the unscripted moments as well as the poses in front of landmarks.
- Graduations — kindergarten, middle school, high school. Every cap and gown through the last one.
Want more inspiration? I’ve made this into a download with ten more must-have photos for your list and a helpful BONUS “How Not to Lose Your Photos in the Digital Void” (that would never happen, right?!). Click here to request the download and get started documenting your most important moments.