Tips for Photographing Your Child Candidly

Recently I have been transferring the pictures on my iPhone over to my computer in an effort to free up space on my cell and organize/pare down the images. My end goal is to finally make a picture book of Charlie's first and possibly second year of life. I have lots of photos of him that I love in which he is just being himself, snacking on something, jumping on the couch, playing quietly in his room, and so on. I thought it would be fun to share some of the pretty basic rules I follow that allow me to capture Charlie simply and candidly, even if it is most of the time with my phone. Here are some tips for photographing your little one without the common plea "say cheese!"

Open all of your curtains and blinds - let that light in! The very first thing I do in the morning is let in as much light as possible by opening any curtains or blinds. It's not easy to take a quick picture of your child if your home is cave-like. During the day I keep lights off (they can cast a strange color on your picture) and work with only the natural light pouring through the windows. 

Get them dressed in the morning. There have been times while browsing Instagram that I've thought to myself "does that child ever have clothes on?" Don't get me wrong, I love and have my fair share of toddler-in-diaper photos (there is one in this post!), but I find it helps to keep Charlie from looking too sloppy or unkempt when I get him dressed not too long after breakfast.  

Pull out your camera often and keep it nearby. The more you use your camera, the more familiar it will be to your child and therefore less of a distraction when you are trying to sneakily capture them doing something cute. A perfect example of this: Charlie doesn't even look up or notice when I am taking a picture of him with my phone because I do it so often (and shamefully have my phone on me at all times). However, when I take out my DSLR camera, he can get distracted with it pretty easily and it's harder to capture him in the moment. 

Let them do what they usually do. I try not to say “look at the camera” or “smile.” At the most I will frame my shot and quietly call Charlie’s name for a quick glance over at me. 

Semi-stage them in photogenic places. This is something I think I do more subconsciously than consciously, but I thought it worth mentioning. If you are going to set your kids up at a coloring station, place them by the window light, or in that cozy corner that always photographs well. 

What I Love About Jacksonville

To be perfectly open, I still have quite a few days when I look around and think, "why the heck are we living in Jacksonville?" Of course the answer is a really good one (Michael's job is here) but still, if I let myself, I can get pretty down about living here. I could give you a many number of reasons why I feel this way, however, the point of this post is not to dwell on those reasons, but instead to list all of the good things this city has to offer. Although I cringe using "love" and "Jacksonville" in the same sentence, there really are some pluses to living here. So, in my resolve to be more content this year, this is me dwelling on the positives! 

1. It has a pretty great food scene. Really delicious donuts at Sweet Theory, wonderful baked goods and eats at Community Loaves, some incredible restaurants such as Orsay. Oh, and several locally owned cool coffee shops. St. Pete kinda needs to step it up and give Kahwah a run for it's money.


2. There are seasons here! In springtime, there are beautiful blossoming trees everywhere that I'd never seen before living in Jacksonville. In the fall, leaves turn colors. And it gets cold here. Like, really cold. But the summers are just as hot as any.

3. Everything is really spread out, which may seem like a negative (and sometimes it is) but the bright side is that it has taught me that it really isn't a big deal to drive 30 minutes. Living in St. Pete, everyone talks of driving to Tampa as if you're driving to the ends of the earth, when in reality it is less than a half hour. Here, just about everything and everyone is 30 minutes away, so I've gotten used to it. 

4. There are a lot of parks and nature-y things to see here. Washington Oaks State Park isn't too far, Big Talbot is really neat to visit, and there are many more places nearby that I've heard of which are on my list to see. Also, the Jacksonville Zoo is very nice! Never thought I'd say that about a zoo.

5. Adding on to that, there seem to be so many places to choose from when selecting a location for a photo session. As a photographer, obviously that's a big plus for me!

6. Jacksonville is close to a lot of other places. For example, charming Savannah, Georgia is only 2 hours away. Charleston is a bit further at 4 hours, but still pretty close! St. Augustine is 45 minutes away, which we visit on the occasional date night. Also, being so close to Georgia, we can go blueberry picking in the summertime! Another great advantage of living here is that we live less than six hours from Michael's side of the family. If we were living in St. Petersburg still, I know we would see them a lot less, so I feel grateful for how easy a trip is between us and my in-laws.

Lastly, I feel I can't end a list of what I love about Jacksonville without mentioning that we have met some wonderful people here who have become dear friends. Any place seems dull and empty without people to love and share life with.

Charlie Lately no. 2

Charlie is growing up before our very eyes and we want to freeze him exactly how he is right now (minus the recent bought of sleepless nights and skipped naps). It has been a while since I've written down all that he is doing and it had also been a while since I unloaded pictures from my camera. So here are some cute little peaks of him playing in blankets and laying on pillows - his favorite thing!  

 

There is a lot I want to remember about him right now, so this is a rather extensive list. If you're not a grandparent reading, feel free to skip : )
 

Charlie, Age 22 months

  • He asks us to sing for nap time and bed time
     
  • Points out ovals and circles all around town (he knows all of his shapes! he'll see the moon and say "half-circle!")
     
  • Loves flowers and insists on smelling and holding one when he sees it
     
  • Calls carrots “honey” for some reason (my theory is that honey rhymes with bunny and bunnies eat carrots, as he sees in one of his books)
     
  • Opens the refrigerator and looks for things he wants to eat
     
  • Climbs up into his highchair on his own (has been doing this for several months)
     
  • Loves watching Curious George
     
  • His favorite book is “My ABC of God Loves Me” and he even asks us to read it to him in the middle of the night
     
  • Tries counting and often recites numbers in correct order; he counts objects, “one ball, two balls!”
     
  • Sings most of the ABC song correctly
     
  • Asks to go visit our next door neighbors Robert and Virginia (he says “Robert” and “Ginia”)
     
  • Loves playing in the courtyard, digging in the dirt, kicking a ball, but mostly just finding acorns and dropping them through the grate of the storm drain
     
  • He gets his shoes out of his room and asks to go outside
     
  • Sleeps really deeply during his naps which means I can finally let him fall asleep in the car and transfer him to his crib successfully
     
  • Is talking so much I can’t even keep up with a list of all he says
     
  • Is putting words together, such as “Mommy’s shoes," “Daddy’s coffee,” "Found it!," and "Where are you?"
     
  • Often asks for his Grammie and Pop Pop and his Nona and Papa. He’ll say their names and then ask to “see them?” Breaks my heart!
     
  • Holds out his hand for ours and says “hand” and then leads us wherever it is he is wanting to go
     
  • Enjoys eating tomatoes, eggs, yogurt, and pickles & enjoys drinking smoothies and coconut water