Darrah Parker » Slice of Life Photography

summer fun with elsie and sylvie | seattle family photography

Long ago, when my daughter was less than a year old, I met Gretchen at baby story time at the library. She also had a daughter less than a year old and we bonded over sleepless nights and compared notes on All Things Baby. We were instant friends.

Fast forward and we now have daughters who are on the verge of turning four years old (how did that happen?) She and her husband, Ben, now have a second daughter who just turned one. (I even had the honor of photographing their family in the hospital right after they became a family of four.)

So it’s no surprise that when Gretchen asked me to photograph their family again, I was thrilled! It’s been a joy watching this family grow and an honor to walk side-by-side with my dear friend as we navigate the insanity and amazingness of motherhood.

Here’s a peek into my playground photo session with Elsie (age 3 1/2) and Sylvie (age 1) and their parents, taken on the eve of Summer Solstice and Father’s Day. What a beautiful way to usher in a new season!

why i take so many photos of my child

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I take a lot of photos of my 3 1/2 year old daughter. I guess you could say she is my muse. She inspires me daily, even on the hard days.

So why do I take so many photos of her?

The answer is simple: I want to remember. I want to remember the milestones, but more importantly, I want to remember the ordinary moments, for that is what she will remember when she’s older.

Think about it. What do you cherish most about your childhood? For me, I remember simple things like family dinners together and cross country road trips. I remember lying on my mom’s lap in restaurants, falling asleep, and being lovingly carried from the restaurant to the car and from the car to my bed. I remember after school snacks while watching reruns of “Leave it to Beaver”.

But there are so many things I don’t remember. That’s why I take photos. So she’ll remember what her hair looked like in braids or her first scooter ride or how sometimes we sat together on the couch and didn’t say a word because we didn’t need to. Because sometimes we just like to be together.

There is one more reason I take so many photos of my child. It’s because much of the work I do as a mother goes unnoticed. There are many days that I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. Like I’ve wasted away the day cleaning up crumbs and putting away toys. But then I look back at my photos and marvel at miraculous thing that is happening before my eyes. This human – this human I grew inside me and birthed – is growing and changing and blossoming – with my help. And I have the pictures to prove it.

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5 tips for photographing your toddler

Photographing kids of any age can be hard, but photographing toddlers is particularly challenging since they never sit still. As the mom of a three-and-a-half year old, I know how frustrating that can be! I’ve come up with a few tricks that help me capture my kiddo’s personality even when she’s on the move and my house is a disaster (because let’s face it – it usually is with a toddler around). These tips can be used with any kind of camera – even a smart phone!

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I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember. The less your camera moves, the less blurry the photo will be. To help stabilize yourself, rest your arms on a table or lean on a wall while you shoot. If there are no tables or walls nearby, tuck your elbows in and stabilize them against your body.

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The faster your kid is moving, the more photos you should take and the quicker you should take them. I like to call this “paparazzi mode”. If you are using an iPhone, just hold down the shutter and the camera will take a lot of photos one after the other. If you are using a dSLR, you should be able to set the shutter to take photos in continuous mode. This will allow you to hold the shutter down and “click click click”. I never ask my daughter to sit still for photos because if I know anything about toddlers, it’s that a) they don’t like to sit still and b) they don’t like to do what they’re told. Instead, I take a lot of photos and hope that she will be still for at least a second while I’m snapping pictures. In the photo below, I asked Sadie if she wanted to play with the stick, knowing that she would probably slow down to play in the puddle. That was my opportunity to go into paparazzi mode!

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Try photographing your child up close and from a distance. Take an overhead shot or get on the floor and photograph the scene from their level. The more you experiment, the more variety you will have and the more likely it will be that you take a photo that you LOVE.

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What do you love most about your child? What makes them special? Maybe it’s their freckly nose or their missing two front teeth. Maybe it’s their wild hair or their sense of humor. Whatever it is, that’s probably what you will want to remember for years to come. By focusing on what makes them unique, you are honoring them and helping them feel special.

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My favorite photos of my daughter are the messy ones – the ones where she is covered in chocolate or the house is a mess. Photos that capture real life are more emotional than perfectly posed shots. So don’t worry about wiping your kid’s face or straightening the toys. Embrace life as it is and find the beauty in the mess.

Photography is a great tool for connecting with your child and embracing the beauty (and craziness) of motherhood. The most important thing you can do is relax and enjoy the process. The more fun you’re having taking photos, the more fun your kids will have being photographed!

pre loan approval for home Want more tips for improving your photos of your kids? Join me for the next session of Lens Mama. Registration is open now!

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