The Photo Project: Digging Deeper When A Portrait Doesn’t Say Enough
This is my son. It was taken… a year or two ago? That’s right, off the top of my head I can’t tell. He still has his baby front teeth here, that helps narrow it a bit. It was taken in the fall… I can tell because I think this was Las Vegas and it’s only warm enough for fleece a couple months of the year. I LOVE this photo, and he is super cute in it, but sometimes the perfect picture just doesn’t say enough. What was he like then? I try to digger deeper and do a little photo project of preserving my kids’ personalities at least once a year. Think about who your child is at that moment in time. After all, it’s the little details that disappear if they aren’t preserved. Here are some things to think about in a photo project like this:
What/who do they LOVE right now?
It could be something they eat, a favorite, game, a sport, a friend, a family member, their cell phone. Really think about what stands out and try to creatively document it.
My kiddo discovered Biscoff (and it you haven’t tried this creamy cookie butter like deliciousness, you should). He was also obsessed with doing puzzles everyday for about 6 months.
What are they learning?
Depending on the age of you child this could vary quite a bit. It could be feeding themselves, helping in the kitchen, soccer skills, homework, tying shoes, crawling. Capture the effort and determination, the expressions of success or even failure.
My son wanted to wear a belt everyday. He worked hard at getting it on and doing it right. I loved to see is little body and fingers doing this grown up thing.
Capture elements of their current routines/rituals
This could be getting ready for school, playing in the sandbox, doing the dishes, getting ready for bed, learning to drive, helping prepare dinner, reading with Mom or Dad, mowing the lawn, tea party for the dolls, anything your child is doing now that you know in time will change as they grow.
Quiet time and other intimate details
Does your child have a lovey, or something they do to calm down, or snuggle with? Do they have a special spot to sit and read? Sleeping, potty training, and snuggling pictures are always a great addition to this kind of collection.
A few more tips
Plan out on paper some ideas that you want to pull together. Aim to do the project over 2-3 days. Take lots of photos and choose the ones that work best. Include family members and try to get in the photos yourself too! Try to get a photo that includes what their room looks like, a photo outside to recall the neighborhood (if you might move), a shot that includes how little or big their hands/feet are, a full body shot to see their size.
Then do the magic – put it all together!!! You can use the print module in Lightroom or some blog templates for Photoshop. I include this in my family album that I print each year, as it’s own page. And now, when I look at that lovely portrait I can recall that indeed we did live in Las Vegas, he was in preschool (lunch in the car on the way home), that he loved puzzles, and Biscoff, and still loved snuggling with his blanket…such a bigger, lovelier preservation of who he WAS then.
Doing a photo project can look almost any way you want it to. Let it be your unique way to capture the parts of life you want to remember. Let it be a way to grow and expand as a photographer.