Beyond the Photo Studio: 3 Ways to Make Real Moments 

Anyone who has ever attempted to get from point A to point B with a small person in tow can attest to a child’s attention to detail. The youngest walkers stoop down to inspect every crack in the sidewalk and each ant that marches across their path. The older set may be unable to pass by low hanging branches without a minor tree climbing session. It’s a natural tendency that in many cases, we grow out of as we get older.

Yet, the moment a brand new baby is placed in your arms, the skill of noticing every little thing is reborn. Each tiny fingernail, the perfect swirl of their hairline, the wrinkles that make them look brand new and a hundred years old all at the same time. There are few things we are ever as in tune with as our children.

With that understanding, there’s an art to observing the things that make them who they are. Given the tools we have these days, there’s no question that it’s easy to amass thousands of photos and videos of our kids. But truly capturing them extends beyond clicking and tapping buttons.

Consider these few things to build a rich collection of memories.

Take non-traditional photos

Of course there’s a time and place for posed, picture perfect photos. But the truth is, those captures rarely tell a story. Candid shots of an afternoon in the yard, or little hands caring for a favorite stuffed animal have far more to connect with. Occasionally, focus on the action itself, not the obvious smiling face. Or leave the kid out entirely, and take the photos they’ll want to have.

Document the “boring”

The normal of today won’t be the normal of 5 years from now. What seems mundane and uninteresting in the moment is often super fun to look back on. Make a video of the song they’ve been singing on loop for two weeks straight, or write down three sentences about a particularly disastrous trip to the grocery store (“You insisted the place to ride was under the cart. I finally talked you into riding properly and you knocked at least two things off the shelf in every aisle. I got desperate and opened the goldfish crackers in line.) After all, there are far more of those moments than anything else.

Let them lead the way

Stepping back and allowing a kid to be in charge is a great way to watch them shine. Let your toddler lead you on a walk around the neighborhood, or hand a recipe over to a 9 year old to prepare for the family. A quick photo of them genuinely enjoying that freedom can speak volumes.

(Kid) Love Hurts

At the end of a long day spent with my kids, I often wonder why parents don’t walk around in full body armor. Between the hardness of their heads which register on the moh scale somewhere in the neighborhood of “diamond” and the flailing limbs of which they seem to have 12 each, being near them sometimes equals pain.

Don’t get me wrong. They’re hilarious creatures whose company can be delightful, but my three year old bloodied my lip with a dramatic rendition of “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” and my 9 year old almost impaled me during a game of tag IN THE SAME DAY.

Everyone talks about the sleepless nights, the pain of actual childbirth, how much it hurts to step on stray legos that get camouflaged into the carpet. But I was given no warning that some average days feel full on Braveheart.

Recently, after waking up by being slammed in the face by the back side of my sleeping (yet thrasy) toddler’s head, I polled a few friends. “At what point in parenthood will the natural reaction to being whacked about the head move past ‘blinding rage’?”

The absolute unanimous response was “never. ever.”

So maybe the knee jerk reaction won’t change. But I do know that the reflexes my husband and I have developed as self preservation rival that of cats.