Three Tips for Getting in the Picture with Your Family | Northern Virginia Documentary Family Photographer

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of getting in the picture.  I got to put my advice into practice over Mother's Day weekend.  We were fortunate to spend it in my hometown with my own mom, as well as my Grandma, sister, aunt, and cousin.  I haven't spent a Mother's Day at home since I became a mom myself, so it was even more special to celebrate with the women in my family.

Get in the picture with your family, mother daughter portrait

I managed to get myself in the picture a few times throughout the weekend, so I wanted to share a few tips for any reluctant mamas (or daddies, or grandmas, or…):

1. Hand over the camera.   If you're the one that's usually holding the camera in your family, that's probably because it's generally you that finds a moment is worth documenting.  And even when you take pictures all the time, it can still be hard to remember that you should be in the picture from time to time too. 

My husband appreciates all the pictures I take for our family, but it doesn't always occur to him that I’m not in the picture when I’m taking them.  So when a moment isn't too hectic, I try remember to hand him the camera and ask him to document for a bit.  So don't be shy!  Hand the camera over to your partner, a family member, or friend.  My nephew took this second one of my son and me, so don’t be afraid to bring the kids in on the action too!

2. Use a tripod. Tripods are especially great for family portraits when you're trying to get everyone looking at once.  I prefer relaxed and candid pictures, but I appreciate the value of traditional portraits as well, especially when I can get in a rare picture with my mom, sister, and cousin like this. 

Tripods are also great for documenting an activity in a designated area.  Most often, when I haven’t planned for a shot, I just set the self-timer.  For these shots with my husband and son though, I used a remote shutter.  Although you have to be careful to hide the remote a bit (or set the response on a delay), the remote is great when you want a little more control over when the shutter clicks and don’t want to run back and forth to your camera. 

Get in the picture with your family

These are options are great for use with a tripod, but they can also work with any sturdy surface that’s handy, such as a table, bookshelf, or bench.

3. Embrace the selfie.  (And the animal print pajamas.)  I’m always heartened when I see parents share selfies with their kids.  Documenting a moment with your child is just another way of reinforcing how you value the time you spend together.  Kids love to see pictures of themselves and they love it even more when the picture includes someone they love.  It can be fun to get creative with selfies by choosing different angles, backgrounds, or fun editing that you can do right on your phone.  And there’s no planning necessary.  Just you, your kid, and a moment you want to remember.  Lately, I’m really enjoying documenting how loving my son is with his soon-to-be brother or sister. 

Lastly, a couple of parting tips to further motivate you. 

Try to forget about what you look like from time to time.  Your kids won’t notice or care.  They’ll just be happy to have a picture of themselves with you, especially years from now when this time is long past. 

On that note, especially for fellow photographers, let go of perfection.  The shots you end up with may not look exactly how you envisioned and they may not fit in with how you traditionally shoot.  That’s not what matters.  You can get those images when you choose and hire a photographer for a family session.  

What matters now, for these pictures, is that you’re in them.  And when you look back on these photos years from now (hopefully you’re printing at least some of them!), you and your family will be so happy to remember that you were there too!