My kids and wife fondly (?) refer to me as the ‘mamarazzi.’  I admit, I enjoy capturing our lives on film jpeg and am always striving for that perfect shot.  I think ‘mamarazzi’ is a little overkill, though, considering they get a full 40-50hour/week break from my lens while I’m at work and it’s not like I photograph them while they are sleeping!

Liar.

They will appreciate all these pictures one day, dammit!

Though I’m FAR from a professional, and will always leave the real expertise to them, I’ve picked up a few tips on improving amateur photos over the years.  This weekend I set out to put my tips to use with the goal of nabbing that ever-illusive holiday card photo and when I was sitting down to review the pics I remembered that the real tip is this: with young children, all bets are off!  You’ll see what I mean…

Tip #1:  Timing is everything. Make sure children are well-rested and have had a snack and a drink.  This gets you your greatest odds at having happy, compliant children.

Do not attempt photos of a toddler on days you skip nap in favor of a 7 minute car snooze.  Also, be sure to pay attention to the kids’ clothing and adjust as necessary.  You know, to avoid your baby looking like she isn’t wearing a skirt and all.

Smile? Yeah right. Where is my crib woman??

Don’t even think about taking this apple away.

Tip #2: Bring help.  My wife is responsible for many of the natural, adorable smiles I’ve been able to capture as she stands behind me and makes ridiculous faces or threats of tickle monsters.   With little ones, it’s also helpful to have a hand placing children where you’d like them to go.

We’ve got to work on her speed, though.

Tip #3. Consider using props.  Sure, props can get a bit cheesy so you have to be careful, but I think they have their time and place.

Prop that works:

Prop that doesn’t work:

Yikes.

Tip #4:  Benches and chairs are good.  With 3 young children, two of whom are toddlers, having a chair or a bench is critical to keeping them anchored and together in the frame.

Perhaps it’s not such a great idea to put them all in the same chair, though.

Tip #5: Photoshop.  Getting 2 kids to look at the camera and smile is hard enough – sometimes a little technical help with the third is justifiable.

The truth is, being 90% computer illiterate I actually have no idea how to use Photoshop, but I wish I did because this picture KILLS me.

Turn your head child!!

Tip #6: Patience, patience, patience.  As with all things involving busy and unpredictable children, getting the perfect shot mostly comes down to pure luck.  Keep on clicking, don’t be afraid to take a break and try again another time or day, and have some appreciation for those outtakes!

If all else fails? Take a shot from behind. No cranky faces here!

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