Laura Griffin Documentary Family Photographer & Filmmaker, Ireland

The average working-age internet user spends roughly 2.5 hours per day on social media (Source: Dataportal). During these 150 minutes of our day, we often scroll through numerous images and videos of the lives of our friends, family and random strangers (and cat videos, let’s be honest). We see how much our friends’ kids have grown and developed, what family activities they are doing, and what milestones are being achieved. Maybe this leaves you feeling inspired and full of ideas of what photos you wan to capture of your children. 

Or perhaps once the app is swiped away and the phone closed, a tinge of anxiousness or an uncomfortable feeling can start appearing. We can sometimes start comparing ourselves or our families to others leaving us wonder if we should be doing, seeing, or documenting more. 

Well, the good news is you and your family aren’t like any other family. What family moments or activities you want to capture, how much you want to share or keep private, or how important living in the moment versus capturing the memories is completely up to you.  
Mom dripping soap on daughter's hands

Maybe you are (intentionally or not) more of a milestone photographer. You are camera ready for those birthday, holiday, or first day of school snaps. But outside of milestones, life is happening right now and you want to be fully in the moment rather than taking pictures for later (or maybe you just don’t like taking photos). 

Perhaps you absolutely LOVE taking photos of your family. It’s not just the big moments but all the little, fleeting moments too. The cheeky little looks the little one gives you, the mess they make while eating, the random little dance parties. You know your kids are growing up fast and you want to capture everything so that they can look back on these memories.

Or maybe you are somewhere in the middle.

Boys running through the park
Finding the Balance.

It is definitely worth capturing those moments that you know you’ll miss as your children get older or you know you’ll appreciate looking back on. (If you need any ideas, here’s a list of a few childhood moments worth capturing). But with a lot of things in life, there is a balance to be struck. Finding that balance between living in the moment versus capturing the memories will look different for every family, but here are some tips to help you get started. 

Tip #1: Plan Ahead

Well, plan ahead as much as you can at least. If you often have your camera out, consider setting a time limit for photo taking and then put the camera away. What often works for me is to make a rough mental shot list ahead of time. What details or activities would you like to have to look back on from the day? Maybe if you are going to the zoo, you know you love it when your little one sees their favorite animal or when they are eating their ice cream cone afterwards. What special traditions do you have? What moments bring a smile to your face?

Tip #2: Set up a timer & tripod

Okay, I realise this isn’t feasible for everyone but if you have an interval timer on your camera and a tripod, this could be a fun one to try. Next time you are having a family game night, movie night, opening presents, etc… set up a tripod and camera near the area and people you want in the frame. Set the interval timer to take a snap as often as you would like.

This is a great way to get all family members in photos and capture candid moments while allowing you to be fully present with your loved ones. The moments you capture may even surprise you!

Tip #3: Share the responsibility

If having a lot of images is important to you, make sure you aren’t the sole photographer (plus, you need to be in the frame too!). If you have a partner with you have them take over some of the responsibility.

Or for families with older kids, give them a go at being the family photographer. This can be a really fun way to encourage them to explore their creativity while also allowing you to enjoy the moment.

Camera picture of the photographer taking photos

Tip #4: Get Creative

It’s time to get creative. The photos of everyone looking at the camera are great to have, but if you want to challenge your creative self a bit more, consider different ways you can capture each individual’s personality. What funny faces do they make? Are they a messy eater? What do they look like while they are sleeping?

Experiment with different angles. Get low and shoot at your kids eye level or go high and capture what it’s like from your perspective. 

Once you get a few fun shots, put the camera down and enjoy the moment!

So the next time that anxious feeling sneaks up on you while you are scrolling through social media and seeing all those posts of activities and milestones, remember it’s about quality over quantity. Planning ahead can help you capture meaningful images of your family. Sharing the responsibility, getting creative and trying a timer & tripod are a few ways to help balance being present and enjoying the moment.

Document your family moments on your terms.

Laura Griffin is a documentary-style family photographer and filmmaker based in Ireland. If you are interested in documenting your family’s story either in film or images, you can book your session here.