Lesson 9: Anticipate the moment so you can stop missing it 

On the first day of school, the kids were all reading these giant books but at that point I was getting ready to leave and had to focus on transitioning Jack. But the next day we were first in the classroom and when his teacher told him to grab a book, I knew it would be a photo op, and was able to get my iPhone out in the time it took him to walk across the classroom. I would never have been quick enough to capture this moment if I had not anticipated it!

On the first day of school, the kids were all reading these giant books but at that point I was getting ready to leave and had to focus on transitioning Jack. But the next day we were first in the classroom and when his teacher told him to grab a book, I knew it would be a photo op, and was able to get my iPhone out in the time it took him to walk across the classroom. I would never have been quick enough to capture this moment if I had not anticipated it!

One of the big frustrations I hear most often from parents is that they feel that they are constantly missing the moment, whether it's because they feel taken out of the moment as they struggle with their camera, or they feel they missed capturing what it was they wanted to remember, or that they literally have missed the moment because by the time they reached for the camera the moment had passed. 
 
So here's the thing - if you wait until you see a moment you want to capture before reaching for your camera (and turning it on, and finding the right app or settings), chances are pretty high that you're going to miss it. 
 
Instead what you want to do is anticipate the moment. 
 
When you can anticipate the moment, not only are you much more likely to capture it, but tuning into what might be about to unfold also brings you more into the moment so you are more present and connected to your child.  

Now, I know that may sound like a tall order given that you can't see into the future, but here's the thing - as your child's parent, you actually do have a pretty good sense of what might be about to happen based on intuition, experience and knowledge of your child. And if you can tap into this sense, anticipate the moment and have your camera ready when something you might want to capture seems about to occur, you'll be in a much better position to capture it when if it does. 
 
And if it doesn't, no big deal. It is far less frustrating than missing it if it does. 

Put this into action:

The boys had a friend over and we got fruit pops. I knew that at some point they would walk down the street together and I could grab a photo like this. And sure enough, I did. 

The boys had a friend over and we got fruit pops. I knew that at some point they would walk down the street together and I could grab a photo like this. And sure enough, I did. 

The easiest way to practice anticipating the moment is to set aside some time where you plan on taking photos. It doesn't have to be elaborate, but maybe it's an afternoon trip to the playground or park, or a weekend art project or neighborhood walk - something familiar that your kids love to do on a regular basis. 

Get them engrossed in something that they love. And then, camera in hand, watch their movements, patterns and rhythms, and see if you can anticipate when they are going to move into a moment worth capturing.

Take note of the results. It take some practice finding the ebb and flow that works for you, so expect a gradual shift as you shift your approach to capturing the moment. 

Once you are comfortable with this, here's something else to consider - don't just anticipate the moment but "shoot through it." What this means is that you can start shooting ahead of the moment so you can play around with lighting and composition. Fine tune the view that you want so that you are well positioned to capture the moment in the best possible way when it does happen. And then keep shooting even after you think you "nailed it" because sometimes something even better happens afterwards!  
 
Family documentary photographer Kirsten Lewis talks about this and also about "shooting more, less often." Take a lot of photos of the moments you want to remember, but be selective about what those moments are.

A photo like this HAS to be anticipated, but at the same time, children often repeat actions, as Liam did here, so you have several chances. But being ready greatly increases your chance of capturing the moment you want.

A photo like this HAS to be anticipated, but at the same time, children often repeat actions, as Liam did here, so you have several chances. But being ready greatly increases your chance of capturing the moment you want.

Today’s photo prompt: Anticipate the moment so you can stop missing it
Up next: Action day

Note: I'll be giving you daily photo prompts to help you in your photo-a-day project but they are completely optional. Ultimately you should choose the photo for your project that best reflects what you most want to remember about the day.

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