Recently I created my a slideshow for my husband of our daughter's first year. When she was born, he had suggested that we take a photo each week of her so we could see how much she changed week to week. There were so many photos on my harddrive of those 52 weeks, it was an overwhelming task to sort through and choose the images to use. (thus why I just now finished her first 52 weeks and she's 2 1/2!)
After watching it, and wiping a tear from his eye he said... "I want one of every year!":)
I learned a few things from this project and wanted to share them!
1. It doesn't matter what kind of camera you use, it doesn't matter if the photo is perfect, it matters that you have it capturedI've always LOVED the quote "the best camera is the one you have with you". This couldn't be more true in the case of photographing your children. Too many times I either do not have my "big" camera or just don't have time to get it out, but I do have my camera phone on me almost all the time... so, yes, it may not be THE BEST but it will get the job done. Don't be afraid to use it.
2. Plan Plan for pictures! Obviously not every moment is a planned one, in fact I'd say most of the images you'll take in a years time will not be planned. There are, however, some important stages to plan for: parties, holidays, birthdays, "firsts", playtime, sports, creations, accomplishments, milestones etc. Don't forget to add your own props occasionally.
3. Set aside a day to take picturesWhen I was doing our daughters 52 week project, there were days I'd say to myself "Oh! it's picture day" Without having designated a weekly photo date, I'd have sometimes gone much longer without snapping a picture! I'm not saying you should take a picture every week, just develop a timeline that suits you and make sure you take a photo "in between" events!
4. Focus on your child's personalityYour goal shouldn't be to get the best smiling portrait of your child. The emphasis should be more about capturing her personality! Sure, smiles are great (and I'm going to bet you get plenty) but sometimes it's the moments between smiles that are so much more special! Interacting and photographing personality will make for a favorite when you look back and reminisce over that moment in time.
5. Don't overdo itNo need to make an hour long photo session. Sometimes you get exactly what you need in a matter of minutes. Realize you don't want to tire your child out with the camera and be willing to accept that you got a shot, good enough :)
6. Organize your photosThis is my biggest flaw when it comes to personal pictures! I just hurry to get them off the camera and don't properly organize them for a particular project. I suggest that once you put your images onto your device, go ahead and sort through them, choosing those images you think you'll want to use for the project. Create a folder specifically for those images and keep them there. Then when you are ready to create your documentary, they'll be more easily accessible :)
7. Hire a professionalAt least once a year (or more) hire someone to take your child's photos. You get a different perspective and creative eye. Include your family in the session so that you get some images with all of you together! If mom is the one snapping all the images, you'll have a great collection at the end of the year, but you won't see her in many photos :)
8. Don't forget videoJust a short video clip will be a timeless treasure, don't forget to turn on your video recording device every now and then and capture some live coverage of your little one. You'll be surprised just how much that 30 seconds will mean to you years later!
9. Document growthThere are a lot of really good ideas out there about documenting growth. One of my favorites: take a photo in the same location or with the same prop at intervals to show growth. (with a baby, monthly is a good interval, with an older child maybe just beginning and end of the year). Another great idea is the "favorites" list. Asking the child what his favorite color, food, tv show, activity, toy and including that onto a photo. You could also do this on video as an inteview!
10. Finish ItOnce you've determined a timeline, be sure to complete your project. Create a slideshow, design and print a hardbound album, or any method to display your work and enjoy your images. Whether it's an event of a few hours, a month long project, a year or longer documentary, just finish it.
This is the personal slideshow I created for my husband of our 52 week project. I'll warn you, it's long, but in the case you want to see an example of what you can do, enjoy! ...Now to get to work on year 1-2 :)
While there are numerous images from our session that I ADORE, (the camera loves these girls)I chose to feature this one because it touched me for a very distinct reason.
In this photo I feel: nurturing, loving interaction, ...mothering.
It left me with the overall good feeling of how much Bethany loves being a mother. It's what I see and what I feel when I look at this. It was how I felt during our session and I'm willing to bet she would tell me I'm right.
Sure, I love a great clean, technically solid composition with proper use of lighting, correct shutter speed, iso, and a good f-stop.
But, at the end of the day, it's the content that makes the image and this photo makes me smile everytime I look at it.
Many thanks to Bethany & Daniel for allowing me to share a moment of their day and a glimpse of their lives :)