Recently I’ve begun the massive project of putting several years of family photos into albums. With over 30,000 photos between my husband and me, you’d think I’d have plenty of beautiful ones to choose from. But my shortlist of useable shots is actually very short, and I deeply regret not taking better photos. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned about how to take better photos of children:
- Make sure there’s enough light and things are in focus. This was the number one problem with so many of my photos. Sure the kids look cute, but many photos are too dark and fuzzy.
- Make sure the photographer gets photographed. If you are the designated photographer in your family, you’ll always be behind the camera, so make sure you get someone to take your photo once in a while, even if you don’t like having your picture taken. In future years, you’ll be glad you did.
- Take some semi-formal portraits from time to time. The informal pictures you take on your phone are great for capturing everyday moments, but it’s nice to take some more formal pictures too. All you need to do is put your kids in front of a blank background, outside or near a window. Kids get better at standing still when you get them to do it regularly.
- Edit and delete as you go. I know this is really difficult in the busyness of family life, but it makes putting an album together so much easier. At the very least, it’s a good idea to tag your best photos when you upload them to your computer. In iPhoto, you can do this either by flagging, by adding a keyword, or by giving a star rating. Then you can find them again later.
- Take pictures of your kids actually doing something, not just posing. Record them sleeping, playing, and making things. This will give more of an insight into their personalities, and provide a good record of what life was like for them.
- Keep the house tidy, and put the kids in plain clothes. Looking back through my photo library, so many shots are visually cluttered. And labels on kids clothes do tend make photos look dated. Now I’m trying to keep things plain and simple.
I have so many pictures of my kids, but very few of the details of their early lives. So now I’m trying to take pictures that tell each child’s story: the toys they played with, their favourite park, their bedrooms, their artwork. In an album, these photos also add interest to each page by breaking up all the portrait-style shots.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s much easier to put the photos into albums as you go, than to catch up on years and years worth of memories. That’s why my weekly photo diary has been working so well for me. I also like the idea of Project Life, but I don’t think I the have time for it. It’s much better to do a small thing consistently, than to start a huge project and then fail at it a few weeks later. So I’ve decided to use these mini Snap albums by Simple Stories, and do some photo collages on PicMonkey. I’ve made these journaling cards as a free download, and to show the kinds of things you can make with PicMonkey. You could use them as is, or put them into a collage that you can have printed. Enjoy!