Hello Under a Northwest Moon! I didn’t mean to stay away so long, and thank you so much for all your sweet messages wondering when the blog would be back, they meant so much to me. The truth is I’m still finding balance as I develop my little Northwest Moon world. After having Eleanor this blog let me flex my creative muscle a little and feel good about putting something back out into the world again. All the while I was always planning of launching my dream, Northwest Moon Photography. Of course being a full time Mom with limited childcare options meant that to do one thing, something else would have to sit on the back burner for a while. Now that my business site is up and running I am hoping to write here more regularly.
When it comes to photography, and life, and social media, and parenting, the questions I get most from people are about photographing children, specifically my child. This comes as no surprise, as anyone who has seen my Instagram knows, I take a lot of photos of my kid. A big part of this is practical. I spend almost every waking moment with Eleanor, and I love to take photos. You can probably do the math. Sharing those photos has connected me with so many wonderful Moms, and photographers, and friends and family that don’t live as close as we would like, and has been an overall lovely experience. The big question is, how do you find the balance? I don’t want my daughter to only remember me as the woman with a camera in her face, nor do I want to miss out on being in the moment with her. I have learned a few things over the past year and a half that have helped me figure it out.
Most of the photos I take of Eleanor are outside. This turns out to be a happy accident, and probably the reason I post as many photos of her as I do. I love to be outside, and it is my favourite place to use my camera. My daughter loves the outdoors as much as I do, so much so that once we are out she couldn’t care less about me. I hate to admit it but most of my most beloved photos are the result of boredom. This is something about parenting that I never hear anyone talk about and it drives me a little nuts. Being a Mom to an infant or toddler is boring sometimes. Like really boring. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching my daughter play and explore, but let’s not pretend it’s enough to keep you on the edge of your seat all the time. She loves to jump in puddles, and throw rocks in the water. This is adorable, the first one thousand times. By the time puddle number one million rolls around it can wear on you a little.
I love taking photos. Photos are my puddles. I love the light, catching subjects from different perspectives, and being able to freeze a moment that tells a story. By doing what I love I feel like I stay more engaged in what she loves. It bridges the gap so to speak. I can’t even tell you how many little things I probably would have missed if I hadn’t seen it through a camera lense.
The fact that Eleanor almost totally forgets I’m around when we are outside is also an important piece of the puzzle. She is off doing her own thing, totally happy to play by herself. This is when I feel best about taking photos of her. Indoors she is much more focused on me, and I am much more careful about being in the moment with her. These are in no way hard and fast rules, but it explains best how I found my comfort zone when it comes to documenting my kid. When she wants me to play, I play. When she is doing her own thing and I start to feel like a fly on the wall, I feel like it is a good time to take a few shots.
Get the Shot and Move On
The best way to achieve balance in anything is to actually be balanced. That sounds ridiculous, but it is also very true. If I don’t want Eleanor to think my camera is attached to my face, the best way to do that is make sure it’s not. Often when we go out on a walk and I bring my camera I will only take ten or fifteen photos, and post one or two if I end up liking them.
Disclaimer, this is not at all true on special occasions. I am still a Mom, and therefore I often think there is nothing more perfect on this planet than my child and I am overcome by the total and paralyzing need to document her every move. This can include everything from a trip to the pumpkin patch, holidays, a reunion with old friends, or a family wedding. In this case you may often see me crawling around on the ground, shutter going wild, while I blow through all my memory cards. I have no shame. Part of seeking balance is embracing the crazy Mom that lives inside me, just as Eleanor will one day have to. Sorry El, photos are my love language and you may have guessed by now that I love you an awful lot.
Know when to Leave the Camera
There are a few things beyond your control that can help you be smart about picking your moments when it comes to photographing your kids. Certain times of day have light that seems to make every photo you take look amazing. Generally this happens in the early morning, and that magic golden hour before the sun goes down. When the sun is high in the sky it creates harsh shadows, so if you’re going out in the middle of the day it might be a good time to leave the camera behind. Cloud cover is also really helpful when you’re taking photos, so if you see nothing but blue skies it is probably a good idea to ditch the camera and just soak up some rays.
Don’t Stop the Action
For a kid that gets photographed a lot, Eleanor doesn’t know that cheese is anything other than one of her favourite foods. Photos that have been posed are almost never my favourites, so I don’t ask her to pose. When you stop and pose a child you lose almost all the good stuff, all the story. The chaos and the movement and the mess is what I love about photography, especially child photography. Does that mean that sometimes there is a shadow where I wish it wasn’t, or a backdrop that isn’t what I was hoping for? Sure, but I feel like these quirks give photos personality. I spent years working in a photo studio and the one thing I really grew to dislike was the sterility of it all. Everything had to be perfect, everything had to be controlled. Photos, like kids, are best when you let them breathe and run amuck a little. If you’re worried about missing that perfect smile, don’t be. The gem you see at the top of the page happened because her dog sniffed another dog’s bum and it’s a million times more beautiful than any smile I could ever pose.