Document your story with more honesty and authenticity, but also with more beauty and emotion: 5 Tips for Capturing Magical Everyday Moments
When our oldest was just a toddler, she made a discovery that changed her whole world: She learned she could push a chair to almost wherever she wanted to reach.
Thanks to that little trick, I found her on top of the kitchen counters, hands in a bag of flour. I found her standing at the bathroom sink, splashing in running water and experimenting with toothpaste like it was a respected art medium.
I tried to teach her that chairs stayed at the kitchen table; she didn’t buy it. I even tried turning all the chairs on their sides in hopes that she wouldn’t have the strength to stand them back up. (She proved me wrong.)
It was exasperating, knowing I couldn’t turn my back on her for one second, and I had another baby to feed and care for.
One day, when I caught her and that chair in an especially “creative” location, I couldn’t help but pull out my camera before correcting her and cleaning up the mess. I discovered that when I viewed her antics through my lens, they suddenly seemed cuter and more innocent than I’d been letting myself see.
With a camera in my hands, I could sense how short-lived this stage would really be.
As a mom who shot professional photos for years, I would never underplay the importance of having high-quality photos of your family to look back on for years to come. But equally important—if not more so—are the unplanned, unexpected candids that we moms catch in the middle of our kitchens or our backyards, with whatever camera is handy.
My most treasured photos aren’t necessarily the staged photoshoots our family has done but the simple moments of everyday living. Imperfect as they are, these are the memories I want to hold on to.
If you’d like to document your everyday story with more honesty and authenticity—but also with more beauty and emotion—these 5 tips will help.
5 Tips for Capturing Magical Everyday Moments
1. Change your vantage point.
I remind my husband of this anytime I hand him the camera: The biggest differentiator between an ordinary image and a standout one is the photographer’s vantage point.
Instead of standing upright and angling the camera down toward your subjects (especially if they’re kids), bend your knees and get on their level. Experiment with shooting from below your subject or directly above. (What’s cuter than a couple of heads in deep concentration over a pile of legos or a lineup of ponies?) Vantage point can completely change the feel of your photo.
2. Don’t overlook the scenes you literally see every day.
Children brushing their teeth, your spouse adjusting the rearview mirror, the pile of shoes just inside the front door. I guarantee you’ll find more beauty in your life once you start photographing it.
A word to moms who have a hard time overlooking the laundry spread across the couch: Embrace the chaos. Let go of the idea of perfect photos. The perfectly imperfect moments are what you’ll want to remember.
3. Challenge yourself to create meaningful images even in less-than-ideal conditions.
So many women have told me that they don’t take as many photos as they’d like because their houses are too dark. I’m currently living in a rental with far too few windows, so I get that—completely. But your memories are far too important to fade away just because you didn’t have ideal lighting, the perfect lens, or the right camera settings. Take those photos anyway.
Here are a few suggestions for dealing with low light in your home:
- Try pulling your children right in front of a window. Maybe lay out their favorite toy set under the best window you have, and let them discover it in their own time. When they do, you’ll have your camera ready.
- Consider buying a light reflector or even using a large white poster board to reflect light onto the shadowed side of your subjects.
- Speaking of shadows, play with them! A shadowed image can convey a whole different kind of emotion. Try turning those shadowed photos into black & whites to amp up their beauty.
4. Make it a project, or join a photography challenge.
For motivation to continue capturing the everyday (and to improve your photography skills while you’re at it), I suggest turning this little side-passion of yours into a concrete project—something you can watch grow as time goes on or hold in your hands at the end of the year. Here are a few ideas:
- Make a goal to record one second of video footage per day for a year (or as close as possible to it!). 1 Second Everyday: Video Diary is an app that allows you to compile the footage into a touching video montage.
- Fill up your Instagram account with magical everyday moments and subscribe to have your profile printed by Chatbooks into simple, inexpensive photo books.
- Gain inspiration from like-minded women by joining a photography challenge. Use the hashtag #MomentsMatter2017 and join with us as we capture the moments that really matter this year.
5. Use the camera you have.
“The best camera is the one you have with you.” — Chase Jarvis
I couldn’t say it more simply than that, but just know that you don’t need an expensive camera to capture a beautiful, meaningful photo. Some of my most treasured images have been caught with nothing more than my phone. Check out my series on mastering mobile photography if you want to take your phone photos to the next level.
And no matter what camera you’re using, make sure it’s handy. Keep your phone in your back pocket or not far from reach so you can grab it at any point to capture the moments that are gone almost before we blink. I also keep my big SLR in a central place in the house so that I always know where it is and can access it easily. (And don’t forget to keep those batteries charged and memory cards clear!)
Just for fun, tell us about one meaningful moment you’ve caught on camera lately. It doesn’t have to be the best photo you’ve ever taken—just something you never want to forget.