On Approaching Photography With Kids

My relationship with the kids’ dad started with a camera. I was shy about being in-front of it, at first; but with mild coaxing and teaching, I came to love it and connect with it in a real way. It was such a part of our relationship back then, as it was part of him. Then it became a part of me, my work, and my relationship to style and language. And when we had children, it was part of us together, this beautiful and simple way to document the moments.

Photography is less complicated than most things one approaches while raising babies…

For the most part, I let our natural love for it and our children lead. As the kids grew, and social media grew, I was able to study varying degrees of how folks take photos of children, share them–or don’t. I’ve never regretted our path. The idea of photographing children in these brief moments that we would otherwise forget, is fascinating and quite stunning to me.

When I consider work from photographers and parents alike, my favorites mostly center around the documentation style of photography that evokes a certain set of emotions. They are photographs that make me empathize. They’re rarely ever posed or seem posed. The photographs (and children in them) exist in this world that I (we) don’t get to exist in anymore, but still like a peek into. It is the same kind of world I see taking shape while I watch my kids play. I sit back, coffee in hand, take it in. All the books suggested that I get down and play; but my approach was always, get down and watch. Snap a picture if you can. Or remember, if you’re lucky.

When it comes to photography, there is no doubt that social media has changed the landscape. It has given a platform for folks who might have otherwise not explored the world of photography. And at the same time, photography (especially of or with children) comes with sharp corners, mishaps, and judgement. I’ve not wavered in my thoughts: It is best left up to parents to settle with themselves and their children. As my oldest is almost nine, and as my work has changed, these conversations about photography are part of the evolution.

This weekend, while hosting a party, River grabbed my Fuji to shoot me and her brother in action. I washed a dish, I heard a click. Langston attempted to sniff under the tin foil, and River laughed, then bent below and clicked a few more times. When the candles were lit and the kids were finished helping put out the bowls and plates for our guest, they kept occupied with a game of run and snap. Oak would run from room to room, both of them peeled over in laughter. I stood swearing over the stove about how my photo card would remain full of River’s own exploration of photography.

Normally, the under current would be full of self-judgment. Assuming I’m not doing it right. Allowing doubt to shape my inner voice. But I think, as we approach a season of holidays and inevitable influx of photos, I’ll say that I am. I am doing it right. My version of right. Aren’t we all? Doing the best we know. And while wrecked with nerves over what lies ahead when it comes to photography and teens (thanks Erin for this piece), I am at ease with my own relationship with it, theirs, and how we approach it as a family.

For photos for the family (mostly kids) we use the Fuji Instax Mini, For photos for the site, or on the go (and occasionally used by the kids) I prefer my Fuji X-E2 , and a classic Cannon EOS 7D for days I like a cleaner more professional set of photographs.

I’d love to know, what’s your take on it?

(Photography by Meghan McGarry for LaTonya Yvette. This post has affiliate links. If you choose to purchase something, I may earn a small comission. Thank you for helping to keep this small space running.)

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