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Creative Child

Parenting: 7 Quick Photo Tips for the Mom Behind the Lens

by Mollie Twohig

Since the birth of my son 5 months ago, I can admit that besides drinking water and going to the bathroom, there are very few things that I do routinely on a daily basis that don't involve his actual care (notice how I don't include showering, eating, brushing my teeth here!). The only other activity that easily makes the brutal cut is taking photos of my little one. No matter how busy I am, how many things I'm holding in my hands, chin, and armpit and neck, if my son decides he's going to giggle at me through that gummy mouth of his or stretch his arms overhead and sigh after a satisfying nap, I'm going to make a minute out of none and grab the camera for that priceless pict!

But when you have only nano-seconds in your day to take photos, it's important that you make them good ones! After all, besides doing everything else, you're now assigned the role of lead producer in this photo documentary of your little one's life! I know there are a gazillion photo apps out there that help make crappy photos look a lot better than they actually are, but why not start with some quality material. Don't worry, it's not hard to do, and here are 7 quick tips that will guarantee better photo moments:

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1) Use your flash outside!

It's counterintuitive, but one of the best times to use flash is when you're shooting outside on a sunny day, like when you're at the beach this summer. This is when the bright sun overhead creates those terrible shadows that will hide your little one's smiling eyes under a bucket hat or beach umbrella (not to mention those unflattering shadows that will accentuate your spouse's nose, chin, cheeks, and gut!). A flash will fill in these dark areas so that the entire face is visible, and it will illuminate an image in the foreground whenever you have strong bright backlighting. Be sure to set your camera so the flash is "ON" to force the flash versus simply being in the "Auto" mode.

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2) Become a crawler all over again! Get on your hands and knees and take the shot from your little one's perspective. I find that these images versus the generic overhead shots tell more of a story about just how small and innocent our babies are in this big, big world. Crouch down, hold the camera very low, even resting on the floor itself, and shoot away.

Document your child's life on Instagram!

3) The perfect moments are the imperfect ones.

Don't just try to capture all the smiles. Take pictures of the silly faces, the yawns, the acne, the drool, the flaky skin. I admit, once I took a quick snapshot of my son right before getting into the car to soothe him as a colicky newborn. The poor little guy was wailing and my heart was breaking for him. I melted when he looked up at me, crying real tears, with his little animal-ear hoodie pulled snug over his head. As terrible as the moment was, it was perfect to me because we had each other. Snap.

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4) Get close up. Fill the entire frame with little piggy toes and feet, spitty mouth bubbles, teeny fingernails, tummies and belly buttons, eyes and wispy lashes. Check your camera for a macro setting, which is usually depicted by a flower icon, and choose this if you are taking these detailed shots.

5) Do not say Cheese.

Forget about posing when it comes to kids! It's all about the candid shots that are taken spontaneously. Come on, we all know that those monthly milestone pix of babies always look way less cute than the natural action shots of our little munchkins. (Leave the posed shots for the embarrassing school portraits that your kids will hate until they are about 30!).

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6) Back it up and print!

We live in a world of instant gratification when it comes to photography: we are able to take hundreds and hundreds of photos of our children, and we get to see them immediately. The problem is, we can literally lose them all just as quickly. Remember to back up your photos. The best way to do this is to purchase cloud storage space (providers include Amazon Cloud Drive, Apple iCloud, Box, Google Drive, to name a few) or a large external storage device (such as a Drobo). And I know it's rare these days, but try to print some photos and make a real life album. Your little one will cherish that the same way we do with our #nofilter homemade albums.

7) Put the camera down. This one's the most important (also mentioned here as point #14)! Don't get stuck behind the lens. As much as you want to capture all of your little one's "firsts," seeing them without a small device blocking your view is way more satisfying. We fed my son solids for the first time the other day, and while we used the phone to capture the first bite, we quickly put it down so that we (and he!) could savor the moment even more.

Happy shooting!

Bio coming soon.

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