The exacting art of pho-toddler-phy; and why I’m so crap at it

imageJust published on The Motherish

Like most parents, I like taking photos of my children. More than just a little bit. If you happen upon my iphone camera roll you will find reams of images of my little ones doing interesting things… like holding a book. Or picking up a leaf. Or sitting on the couch. Really fascinating stuff that simply must be captured on film. You may also come across multiple selfies of me in different outfits, because if Cher from Clueless taught us anything it was that you can’t rely on mirrors. But that’s a whole different story.

imageTrying to get a good photo of my kids together is the impossible dream. For my 3-year old twins, Henry and Tilly, there are far more important things to be doing than looking at me and smiling. Things like trying to lick your own eyeball or attempting to bend your leg back at a 90 degree angle in the wrong direction. Or, preferably, both of these things at the same time. Add into the mix a seven month old baby who wants to crawl away and suck the corner of the couch instead, and I think I’ve finally come to accept that it might just be an unattainable goal.

No matter how much obnoxiously high pitched squealing of their names and hitting of squeaky toys on the floor I do (because apparently the ratio of good photos achieved is directly proportionate to the octave of the noise you make to sustain their attention) the outcome is generally some version of the same image. One child has their fingers in their mouth and their eyes half closed, the other is smiling a weird smile that makes them look like an awkward combination of Peewee Herman and Sebastian the lobster from The Little Mermaid and the last will move at the very instant the photo is taken and become a blurry version of the cutest photo I’ve ever taken.

It’s funny how your kids spend all day every day smiling at random stuff and laughing at you when you’re trying to tell them off, but then when you ask them to smile it’s like they’ve never done it before and have no idea how to. They fashion their faces into strange contortions that look more like grimaces and the more times you say “smile normally please”, the weirder their smiles become. Either that or they have a creative interpretation of what “look at me” actually means and end up with their face toward you, their eyes rolled uncomfortably to the side, and their mouths in the shape of the (irritatedly spoken) words “I am looking at you'”.

And in that gloriously rare moment where all of a sudden you manage to get everyone doing the right thing at the same time…in that miniscule blink and you’ll miss it second… your phone will suddenly tell you you’ve run out of storage space and no matter how many photos you delete, it will defiantly refuse to take another. Natch. Because technology is a bitch.

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So after three and a half years of attempting to take good photos of my kids, and one miraculously amazing family Santa photo that has become the pinnacle of all photos in our household, never to be achieved again, I’ve come to a few necessary conclusions. Candids and action shots are actually way more fabulous than cheesy poses, and sometimes your favourite photos just so happen to be the out takes. And, most importantly for me, I’ve realised that sometimes I spend so much time trying to capture a “perfect moment” that I’m not actually living in the moment I’m trying to capture. Moments don’t need to be photographed to be magical, and the kids are actually more important than the photo. To me, my children are pretty perfect anyway, so the photo probably doesn’t have to be!

And when all else fails, as my Instagram followers can attest, you can actually bluff your way into looking pretty artsy and creative when you just keep taking photos of the backs of your kids, walking away from you, when they have no idea they’re being taken.

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This insight to the deep recesses of my intricate mind was originally written for and published by The Motherish 

10 thoughts on “The exacting art of pho-toddler-phy; and why I’m so crap at it

  1. Your photos are great! I esp. like the one of your little girl flopped on the step in front of the door…a classic every parent can relate to!


  2. What are you talking about? Those photos are all great! I know what you mean though. I have so many blurred photos of my son on my phone, but I can’t be arsed deleting them. Maybe I will find a use for all those blurred/weird smile moments.


  3. Oh, I am dreadful at remembering to take photos of the kids! (I’m even worse at getting in front of the camera) Because of my all around crapness, I do make a point of getting one of my friends (who is a professional documentary-style photographer) to come out and do an annual shoot every year, so I know that we’ll at least have some memories to look back on when the kids are older.


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