27 Photos to Take of Your Kid Before They Reach Their Tweens

Kids grow up so fast. Here are ideas for photo moments that capture the amazing journey.

Back in the day when capturing a moment meant deliberately keeping a (film!) camera at the ready, our collections of childhood photos were finite.

Holidays and special occasions got top billing. However, it’s the random candids that stand out in memory- the photos our parents snapped simply because they didn’t want to forget how we once were.

They endure in disorganized (though not bottomless) shoeboxes, and neatly arranged in gold embossed photo albums.

These days, there are few moments that pass by without someone whipping out a phone to capture it. And with the ease of snapping, comes an overwhelming volume of output.

But how many of these files are we ever going to print, let alone look at ever again? What are the chances we’ll haul out dusty hard drives and even have the ability to see what’s on them? 

It stands to reason we’d all benefit from capturing these fleeting moments more thoughtfully. Approach the photographing of childhood less like the paparazzi, and more like a documentarian.

Here are 27  shots that you (and your kids) will love to look back on.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]1. Newborn feet[/su_highlight]

infant toes wrapped in blue blanket

Listen, they’re not going to be that cute forever. (Or look even remotely as miraculous and amazing for long.)

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]2. First birthday cake smash[/su_highlight]

baby with hands in birthday cake

There are few times in a person’s life when going elbows deep into a pile of frosting is going to be deemed acceptable. Make this one count.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]3. Less than Sunday best[/su_highlight]

Sure, they look fantastic when they’re all dressed up. But the true representation of childhood? They’re often a hot mess. Snap a few of the less than shiny days.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]4. First bike[/su_highlight]

little girl on bike with training wheels

This photo is as much for you as it is for them. Do you remember the sheer awesomeness of your first bike? Chances are you remember it in detail whether you have a photo of it or not. (And if you don’t, I’m sure you wish you did.)

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]5. Bathtime mohawk[/su_highlight]

little girl laying in bathtub

A classic.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]6. Favorite lovey[/su_highlight]

sleeping little girl clutching mouse

There’s always going to be something they refuse to sleep/eat/leave the house without. Whether it’s for a matter of weeks, or years, looking back on the things that really mattered to them is about as nostalgic as it gets.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]7. Candid interactions with friends[/su_highlight]

two little girls hugging

There is really nothing sweeter than two small people interacting with each other. (Well, except for the times they’re clubbing each other in the head with toys or screaming about who had what first.) And what better fodder for their future #TBT posts than photographic evidence of their squad from back in the day?

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]8. Bedtime reading[/su_highlight]

two kids reading bedtime stories

Bedtime is often overlooked as a time worth documenting. Likely because anything that potentially slows down the process seems like sabotage. However, a photo to recall the cozy snuggles is worth the risk.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]9. Hand holding[/su_highlight]

dad and toddler hands

Because one day you’re going to realize you can’t remember the last time they spontaneously held your hand. And you’ll be the awkward person crying on the elevator.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]10. Favorite spots[/su_highlight]

silhouette of kid on swing

That little rickety dock they fished off at the lake each summer, the rope swing at the local apple orchard, the biggest rock in the park that played everything from spaceship to castle. Think of the little places that seem so much a part of now. As time goes by, their memory weaves itself into the fabric of a childhood.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]13. Little person, big world[/su_highlight]

kid in field at a distance

It doesn’t always have to be a close up. Collect some images that convey just how big their world once seemed.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]14. Tantrum[/su_highlight]

toddler in a tutu having a tantrum

They aren’t always in top form. In fact, they’re often NOT in top form. Keep it real.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]15. Sleeping in unusual places[/su_highlight]

sleeping baby

Because napping doesn’t always happen at the most convenient times and some kids can sleep anywhere. (This could be a series that lasts a lifetime, truthfully.)

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]16. That silly thing that only they do[/su_highlight]

toddler helping in the kitchen with headphones

Maybe it’s their patented scowl, or their insistence on wearing sound canceling headphones to make smoothies. Whatever it is, photograph it.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]17. Eating things. Messily.[/su_highlight]

toddler eating messy popsicle

Because they’re going to outgrow it. Hopefully.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]18. Being brave[/su_highlight]

Collect photos that empower them. Everyone likes to look back and realize they’ve always been a badass.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]19. At the beach[/su_highlight]

little girl with sand pail at the beach

Especially that first time they see the ocean. And refuse to touch the sand with their actual body. (Or insist on being up to their neck in it. Depends on the kid, I suppose.)

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]20. Making a mess[/su_highlight]

kids making a mess in playroom

Lots of opportunity for this one. Legend has it, you miss these days when they’re over.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]21. Sick day[/su_highlight]

sick toddler with crackers

If someone tried to take my photo the last time I was sick, I’d have summoned every ounce of strength I didn’t know I had and roundhoused that phone right out of their inconsiderate hand. That’s because I’m an adult. However, when our kids are sick, it’s often supremely sweet.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]22. Doing their thing (cooking, art, sports)[/su_highlight]

little girl singing and playing ukulele

Sometimes, it’s easy to see from day one what a kid was simply born to do. These will come in handy when compiling the photo montage for their episode of “Behind the Music” or their their first James Beard Award Ceremony.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]23. Crying[/su_highlight]

toddler crying in snow

Because it’s not always sunshine and roses. You may have to take this in stealth mode as to not escalate the already devastating situation, but it could end up a family favorite.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]24. New trick[/su_highlight]

little girl blowing a bubble

They won’t even protest this one. In fact, they may ask you take to 400.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]25. Crazy dressed[/su_highlight]

little girl in purple tutu

Sometimes you can’t leave the house unless you’re wearing a tutu. Or a cape. Or underwear on your head.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]26. With people who are special to them[/su_highlight]

12006264_10205089686866764_3473474163170432614_n

We always snag photos of the kids with the usual suspects. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles. But there are plenty of people who have a real impact on relatively small swaths of life. Librarians and teachers, nurses and shopkeepers. Take photos that spark memories of those we love all too briefly.

[su_highlight background=”#f1c40f”]27. Know when the scene is ripe for a posed photo.[/su_highlight]

xmasbook-6

Sometimes, it just can’t be helped. (Here are my rules: Not too busy, interesting textures, pops of color.)

 

6 Tips for Taking Better Christmas Photos With Your iPhone

With a few simple tricks, your smartphone can take holiday family photos that you’ll treasure for decades.

At last count, my iPhone contained 8,755 photos. If I ever used Siri, I assume she’d insist, speech slurred, that I whittle that down to give her room to breathe before she could provide me with any assistance whatsoever.

Sometimes I think the whole thing just might spontaneously burst into flames.

I am not a photographer. I am a mom with an iPhone. Obviously, the main subjects of my thousands of photos are my kids. A lot of them are total crap. Kids move fast, refuse to cooperate, and sometimes I just miss. But over the last several years I’ve honed my skills and the misses are fewer and far between. I’ve amassed a serious collection of images that I’m truly proud of using only my iPhone and this set of guidelines:

Be Quick!

Full disclosure: I am that mom who (provided the risk level is relatively low) snaps a photo before rescuing precariously perched toddlers. Many photo worthy moments happen in the blink of an eye. For that reason, I often open my camera from the lock screen, swiping up from the bottom right corner.

Ain’t nobody got time for passcodes when babies start hugging each other and kids dash off happily into the snow.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Light! Make it natural.

two young kids enjoying summer at the lake with sun lit background. Watching sun down.

Good lighting is the difference between a photo that’s meh and totally stunning. The morning as light streams through windows and the last hour or so before the sun goes down are my favorite times of day to capture. Experiment with sun rays and silhouettes. Set the flash to off and keep it natural.

Don’t zoom. Move closer.

cookiethief copy

Like with your actual body. The iphone is powerful, but not enough to take photos without degrading them when using the zoom feature.  Get in close and take shots that isolate something you want to remember; a grubby little hand stealing cookies, baby toes peeking out under covers, portraits of sleeping faces.

Speaking of moving, get low.

Kids are short. Generally, anyway. Get down on their level. Capturing them while in the space they occupy strengthens the image.

Make it interesting. 

Sure, centered photos of your child smiling at the camera are great, but can become tiresome. I use the grid feature (you can enable it on the native camera by going into settings–>photos and camera then scrolling down and toggling it on) to follow the rule of thirds. Placing points of interest in the areas where the lines intersect draw the eye into the photo and make for an overall more appealing result. Shooting from unexpected angles is another way to enhance visual interest. Explore top down shots of lego building, notice reflections, or focus on wrinkly toes perched on the edge of the tub as the smiles blur in the background.

 

 Don’t over filter.

7 months cute baby girl lying on a bed

Filters are like the Jnco jeans of the photo world. They seemed fashionable enough then, but eventually become a foolish representation of their moment in time. Honestly, how you can hold in your hand this incredible tool that your ancestors could not even fathom, yet choose to manipulate an image until it looks like something your backed over with your car is baffling to me. I am in no way ANTI filter, but I know the photos which most closely resemble what the eye sees are the ones that will stand the test of time. When I first became an iPhone owner, I was very heavy handed with the editing. Looking back, those photos haven’t kept my interest. Go easy. Stay authentic as a rule and break it occasionally.

Then, do yourself a favor and put the best of the best in a place where they aren’t going to be lost, buried, or saved at a low resolution (I’m looking at you, Facebook and Instagram!)

Instead, Notabli makes it easy to organize and privately share all of the great Holiday (and everyday) moments. Download the free app for iOS or android and start a childhood album they’ll thank you for.

I can’t believe I wasted $1 on these crappy stock photos of kids

If you’ve never wasted hours of your life digging through cheap stock photos of children, you’re luckier than I am completely missing out.

When you write a blog post, you need a photo. I’m a fairly decent photographer with tens of thousands of photos, so for most articles I simply use an image of my own. Occasionally, however, I need a specific image. That’s when I’m damned to the stock photo sites. And what a treasure trove those sites are. I’ve decided that from now on, if I’m stuck on a subject to write about, I’m just going to search for an image first, then write the article. Starting with these ideas below. The New York Times should follow my lead.

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Little boy sitting on potty with newspaper

Appropriate for post titled “Screen free potty training: A how-to”

Novelty glasses= height of stock photo comedy.

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Close up little girl doing fun saliva bubbles

 This gives me flashbacks of third grade when a gaggle of heathens decided to perfect the skill of drooling as long a strand as possible before slurping it back into their cave-boy mouths. Kids are disgusting.

Appropriate for post titled “Racoons Don’t Like Hugs” or maybe just “Cujo”

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Babe enjoying chocolate icing

Appropriate for post titled “I put him down for a nap and came back to a nightmare.” 

Listen, I know changing diapers is no easy task, but there’s no excuse for this.

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mother yelling at children

Appropriate for post titled “How to avoid raising a serial killer”

Buffalo Bill’s childhood was as traumatic as one could imagine.

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girl holding shopping trolley side view

Appropriate for post titled “Grocery shopping on a budget”

Look! A cart as useless as one of those insufferable truck carts. You know, the ones with no turning radius that are designed to completely wipe out towering displays of produce while your shrieking child swipes everything within reach off the shelves?

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Vacuum-packed boy

Appropriate for post titled “Vacuum Packed Boy”

 Sometimes the actual image title gives you all the inspiration you need.

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little boy with a laptop

Appropriate for post titled “I had Rick Moranis’ love child”

See? What if that kid’s face was just totally naked? HUMORLESS. Also, as I said – novelty glasses= height of stock photo comedy.

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creepywtf

Appropriate for post titled “WTF WTF WTF”

Someone thought this up, staged it, and photographed it. And then put it on the internet for sale.

Our Parents Were Awesome

parents-were-awesome

The year 2000 still seems futuristic to me. To my 6-year old, it’s ancient history. When she views photos of her mom or I taken in the 90’s, 80’s or 70’s, it’s like she’s witnessing a former age. In many ways she is.

70 million photos and videos are uploaded to Instagram every single day. But just a generation ago, all photographs came from a lab, processed from film. We brought them home in paper envelopes and glued them into cardboard albums. Getting copies was expensive. The whole thing seems so retro. It was just a decade ago.

Retro is one of the many charms of the Tumblr “My Parents Were Awesome.” It features vintage photos of parents when they were young and carefree – in other words, before they were parents. Or, “back when they didn’t just think they were cool, they actually were cool.”

It’s easy to wonder what our parents were thinking back then, with their goofy fashions and awkward hairstyles. But then I realize that this is how my kid already perceives her mom and I in our own “old” photos. Me with backwards baseball hat and vertically striped shirts, her in hypercolor and a fannypack (sorry sweetheart, but I’ve seen those photos). Acid washed denim everywhere.

As I settle into dadhood, I not only accept my place in this tradition but welcome it. Our parents were awesome. So are we.

 

 

6 Tips for Capturing Childhood With Your iPhone

At last count, my iPhone contained 8,755 photos. If I ever used Siri, I assume she’d insist, speech slurred, that I whittle that down to give her room to breathe before she could provide me with any assistance whatsoever. Sometimes I think the whole thing just might spontaneously burst into flames.

I am not a photographer. I am a mom with an iPhone. Obviously, the main subjects of my thousands of photos are my kids. A lot of them are total crap. Kids move fast, refuse to cooperate, and sometimes I just miss. But over the last several years I’ve honed my skills and the misses are fewer and far between. I’ve amassed a serious collection of images that I’m truly proud of using only my iPhone and this set of guidelines:

Be Quick!

Full disclosure: I am that mom who (provided the risk level is relatively low) snaps a photo before rescuing precariously perched toddlers. Many photo worthy moments happen in the blink of an eye. For that reason, I often open my camera from the lock screen, swiping up from the bottom right corner. Ain’t nobody got time for passcodes when babies start hugging each other and butterflies land on sticks and stuff.

image.jpg

 

Light! Make it natural.

Good lighting is the difference between a photo that’s meh and totally stunning. The morning as light streams through windows and the last hour or so before the sun goes down are my favorite times of day to capture. Experiment with sun rays and silhouettes. Set the flash to off and keep it natural.

image.jpg

Don’t zoom. Move closer.

Like with your actual body. The iphone is powerful, but not enough to take photos without degrading them when using the zoom feature.  Get in close and take shots that isolate something you want to remember; a grubby little hand full of freshly picked berries, baby toes peeking out under covers, portraits of sleeping faces.

image.jpg

Speaking of moving, get low.

Kids are short. Generally, anyway. Get down on their level. Capturing them while in the space they occupy strengthens the image.

image.jpg

Make it interesting. 

Sure, centered photos of your child smiling at the camera are great, but can become tiresome. I use the grid feature (you can enable it on the native camera by going into settings–>photos and camera then scrolling down and toggling it on) to follow the rule of thirds. Placing points of interest in the areas where the lines intersect draw the eye into the photo and make for an overall more appealing result. Shooting from unexpected angles is another way to enhance visual interest. Explore top down shots of lego building and lounging in the grass, or focus on wrinkly toes perched on the edge of the tub as the smiles blur in the background.

image.jpg
image.jpg

Don’t over filter.

Filters are like the Jnco jeans of the photo world. They seemed fashionable enough then, but eventually become a foolish representation of their moment in time. Honestly, how you can hold in your hand this incredible tool that your ancestors could not even fathom, yet choose to manipulate an image until it looks like something your backed over with your car is baffling to me. I am in no way ANTI filter, but I know the photos which most closely resemble what the eye sees are the ones that will stand the test of time. When I first became an iphone owner, I was very heavy handed with the editing. Looking back, those photos haven’t kept my interest. Go easy. Stay authentic as a rule and break it occasionally.

image.jpg
This post originally appeared on the blog at NotabliParent Company’s first product. 

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.