Over the weekend, I was outside in the early summer Texas heat with Wallace. It was after he devoured a piece of cheese pizza and before I cared enough to wipe his face. He had a pair of plastic fake glasses from who knows where, and a can of sparkling water.
His cheeks were red and his sweaty curls were stuck to his damp head. His shirt was filthy, his knees scraped. He was what we might lovingly refer to as a “hot mess.”
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He wound up in a shady spot in front of the setting golden sun. There I was sitting on the pavement with my phone- the best camera I had access to at the time (and really a pretty incredible camera, TBH), and so I started snapping as he played with the glasses, putting them on and taking them off- upside down then right-side up.
I directed him minimally, mostly just trying to get his attention so I could get him to look at me for a few brief moments. I really dislike over-directing my kids for pictures because it makes us all mad. I rarely end up with the shot that’s in my head anyway, so I’ve learned to just use my feet and my knees and to follow and squat and get what magic I can.
I’ve also learned I have to sometimes take A LOT of shots to get a few gems. And that’s fine and ok because that’s the beauty of digital technology- we can delete what doesn’t work.
So I snapped and I snapped, and the results are a beautiful freeze frame from that sweaty late afternoon with a 2 year old who just ate pizza.
You don’t have to dress the kids up or even clean them or brush their hair to capture moments you’ll treasure. Your messy reality is the beautiful picture.
Now, definitely approach how and where you take the photos thoughtfully. Mind your lighting and your background distractions. Play with portrait mode on your phone if you have it, and remember that does best with a LOT of natural light.
Direct your child a little bit if you need to. See if you can entice them to follow you to a shaded spot, maybe away from the sewer connection in the background (#RVLife). But don’t pose them. Don’t ask them to say cheese. Don’t hover above them.
Be patient. Follow them. Get on their level…
Thoughtfully edit your photos later, and you might surprise yourself. You just might look at these pictures of an ordinary day and a hot mess, and think, “I need to frame this.”
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