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. 

Tips for Writing Thank-You Notes

Last week as I was writing thank-you notes to those who had given me birthday gifts, I thought it could be fun to share a few tricks I've learned on making it a bit easier to send out thank-you cards. It's something I have come to really enjoy; expressing thankfulness always feels good! Below are a few tips. 

Have the Right Supplies

I don't know about you, but I feel much more inclined to send someone a note of thanks if I have a pretty card to write in. Stationary is kind of a weakness of mine, so I often have a small stash of pretty cards to choose from. Target usually has some surprisingly nice boxed sets of cards available, as do TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Once a year, I like to splurge a bit and buy some cute cards from Rifle Paper Co. (they have a great sale after Thanksgiving). Also, having a nice writing pen and stamps is a good idea too!

Think About How You Feel

Doesn't everyone agree that receiving mail is one of the best feelings? (bills and advertisements not included!) Think about how happy you are when you get a sweet note from someone, then picture the person you are writing to feeling the same way when they receive mail from you. It makes writing notes that much more fun and less of a chore if you have a bunch to send. 

Keep Track of Who Gave You What

Nothing keeps me from putting off the task of writing thank-you cards more than not knowing who to thank for what. So if you are having a wedding or baby shower, have a friend write down the gift giver's name as you are opening presents. As gifts and cards come in the mail to your house, keep a running-list handy to take note of who has sent you something, as well as saving their address. 

Don't Overthink It

They are called "thank-you notes" for a reason, so there is no reason to feel like you are being cliché to simply say "thanks so much for such and such, how thoughtful and generous that was..."
Writing to express gratitude is not the time to get writer's block. Keep it sweet, simple, and to the point. 

Little by Little

After our wedding, I was overwhelmed but determined to respectfully thank everyone who had so generously gifted us with time, money, or things for our home. I set out to write five notes a day, which was really quite manageable. Often, I got on a roll and was able to write more than that. The same applied to when Charlie was born and we were showered with gifts. I wrote over sixty thank you cards...but only five or so at a time. Set a goal, make a cup of tea, and do your best!

Be Personal

If you can, share how much you've enjoyed using the gift you were given, but only if it's the truth! I like to also make reference to a recent time we've spent together or the next time we'll see each other. Something like " Thank you for the blender! My morning smoothies come together faster than ever and it's a breeze to clean. That was really thoughtful of you. Can't wait to see you July 4th weekend!"

Lastly, remember that you can write a thoughtful note saying "thanks" for things other than material gifts. Whether someone brings you a meal, has you over for dinner, or helped you out in some way, it's nice to cultivate the habit of looking for ways to express gratefulness.  

Do you enjoy writing thank-yous? Have any tips or fun advice to share?