This Sunday will be December 1 which, for our family, means the tree goes up and the advent calendars start the countdown to the big day. With the holidays fast approaching, I've realized that I have only taken a handful of photos of my kids since the summer. It's a busy time of year with school, activities, work and all of the everyday errands to do. Sometimes it feels like there is nothing new or interesting to shoot. So, I started thinking: how do we take photos that are meaningful and different from past years? With limited time on our hands, it pays to be intentional with what we capture so that we don't forget the moments that matter.
My kids have never been keen on the idea of posing with Santa and I don't think they could even list off what they received for Christmas last year. What they do remember are the times we went sliding together, skating on the outdoor rinks, the first snowman they built each winter, our tradition of decorating a gingerbread house and then sharing it with their cousins, making buttertarts with their aunt, travelling to visit family, Christmas dinner at my parents and the special chocolate they get to eat for breakfast each day of the holidays. They are already starting to talk about that elf on the shelf ...and so now the pressure is on to remember where the heck I hid that elf last January. The point is, start by asking yourself : What are the moments that represent life right now for your family? Ask your family, make a list and plan to document a few of those moments. There is no moment too small. Aren't we always telling ourselves we will one day miss these exact little moments? Maybe they drive us a little nuts right now but we will want to relive them when they are gone. What if we think beyond the photo that will be on the front of the Christmas card and instead spend the morning with parents or grandparents, document a tradition, a favourite recipe being prepared, the tree being decorated, kids in their snowsuit layers...
Whatever the holidays look like for your family, I think everyone can agree that the moments matter more than the things. So, here are 3 tips that may help you as you document time together:
1) Use what you have:
In this time-lapse video, I simply used painter's tape and taped my phone to a chair. No tripod or DSLR. Often, done is better than perfect. Experiment and get creative with what you have.
2) Pick your moments:
Intentionally make a list of the moments you want to capture. Ask those around you what they love most and what they remember from past years. Write it all down and pick a few to capture. You don't need a photo of EVERY moment. Don't try to get everything, it's not fun for anyone if there is always a camera around. Plus it's exhausting to always be on the other end of the camera.
3) Tell a story
Build a story with the photos and video you take. Get the details and the bigger picture. If you are decorating the tree, take photos of each person adding an ornament but also of certain ornaments that are meaningful. Take a before and after photo, do a time lapse of the whole process, a photo of everyone in front of the tree afterwards etc. This is especially useful if you plan to make an album with your photos. Having photos taken at different angles, perspectives and details helps to pull it all together and create a full set of images that tell the story.
I don't know how many years we have left where my kids will believe in Santa and I will miss leaving cookies and carrots for Santa and the reindeer. I will try my best to soak it all up this year in photos but also by just being in the moment with them.