Do you want to capture the moment, but worry that your camera will come between you and your kids?

Does your camera seem to ruin the moment because when you bring it out, your kids stop what they are doing and either start posing, making silly faces or turn away?

Do you find yourself missing the moment because by the time you pull your camera out, it's too late?

It may seem counter intuitive, but there's a different way of photographing your kids - one where your camera actually brings you closer to your kids rather than come between you

You can use your camera to connect with your kids.

And when you use your camera to connect with your kids, you can be more present and still capture the moments that you want to remember.

And this is exactly what my free 7 day challenge will show you how to do.

The day two challenge specifically gives you a strategy for using your camera to connect with your kids.

Get your child engrossed in something that they love - Photosanity day two challenge

Get your child engrossed in something that they love

Yesterday, we talked about capturing natural emotions and interactions. But one of the things you may have found is that your kids are so used to being asked to pose for the camera that they had a reaction when you tried to do this.

My kids both were totally engrossed with their bikes when they were little.

My kids both were totally engrossed with their bikes when they were little.

Maybe they automatically posed and smiled. Or perhaps they did the opposite and turned away, hid their face, or started to complain. 

Don’t worry. This is very normal, and it may take a while for your kids to acclimatize to your new approach to photography. Even my kids, who I rarely ask to pose, have been known to do all of the above.

The best way to take your child’s attention away from you and your camera is to get them focused on some other activity that they adore.  This is another way of saying - help your child to focus on how it feels, not how it looks. When you move their focus away from how they look on camera and instead direct them towards experiencing the moment, everyone will have a better experience.

The beach is also great for getting kids engrossed

The beach is also great for getting kids engrossed

Not only that, but as your kids learn that they are not going to get interrupted for photos anymore, you’ll have many more opportunities to capture the moment, and you’ll both have positive associations with those photos rather than the negative ones so often associated with posing for photos.

And when they look at your photos days, months or years later, they will feel seen for who they are and what they love doing, and not only for “appearances” and smiling for the camera.

5/14/17 update: This challenge is no longer available but check out our new challenge: 7 days to finding joy through photographing your kids.

Featured participant photos

Each day I'll be featuring two participant photo "hot seats" and giving detailed feedback not just on their photos but on the frustrations they shared with me when they joined the challenge.

The lighting is off. And composition could be a lot better. Plus, my boys have learned fake smiles at school. They don't look natural anymore. Too "cheesy". - Key Rosebrook on her biggest frustrations with her photos.

Day two photo by challenge participant Key Rosebrook. Said Key, "He was engrossed. Totally focused on eating my dinner. Focused on using the chopsticks. I like this photo because it captures the stolen moments (and food) of my life. I was glad to get he shot of our "foodie in the making"."

Day two photo by challenge participant Key Rosebrook. Said Key, "He was engrossed. Totally focused on eating my dinner. Focused on using the chopsticks. I like this photo because it captures the stolen moments (and food) of my life. I was glad to get he shot of our "foodie in the making"."

Hi Key,

Yes, I totally hear you on the fake smiles. It looks like you used today's challenge to counteract that perfectly. I love how you're down at your child's level, cropped in close to perfectly capture how this moment felt and what it meant to you. And not a cheesy smile in sight!

With regards to lighting and composition, one of the benefits to getting your child engrossed in something they love is that generally this gives you more time to explore both lighting and composition. I always say capture the moment first, but if it keeps going, as it often does when they're engrossed, try different angles to get different lighting and composition. If all the while you focus on how the moment feels, not how it looks, and how to best capture how it feels, this will bring you more into the moment and you'll find yourself focused on your child, really "seeing" them in that moment. I find this keeps me connected to my kids when the temptation might otherwise be to check out.

At the very least, with your child engrossed, your camera is less likely to interrupt or ruin the moment and come between you and your child.

Thanks for your participation, I look forward to seeing more of your photos!

My goal here is to learn better ways to capture emotion in my photos, especially when using my iPhone. - Missy Perron

Hi Missy,

Day two photo by challenge participant Missy Perron - "My kids ask to use the finger paint at least 50 times per year. I allow them to use the finger paint maybe twice a year. Today was their lucky day and they were really 'into' it."

Day two photo by challenge participant Missy Perron - "My kids ask to use the finger paint at least 50 times per year. I allow them to use the finger paint maybe twice a year. Today was their lucky day and they were really 'into' it."

I just had to share this photo with everyone - what an amazing moment. This is the loosest interpretation of "finger paints" I've ever seen - I love it!!! Great shot from above too.

You quite definitely got them engrossed in something that they love. And while it could have been easy to have them look up at you and pose for the camera, I think it's far better that they didn't - you really capture the feeling of the moment and how, as you say, "into" it they were (figuratively and literally!)

As far as better capturing emotions in photos, as is the theme in this challenge, it starts with focusing on those emotions, in other words, how it feels, not how it looks. Which is not to say that you don't think about how it looks at all, it's just that how it looks is in service of how it feels.

When you focus on emotions, you'll respond more instinctively to find the right angle, capture the best moment etc. but then learning more about what tends to make for a good angle or moment also helps to take it up a notch. Look out for the next few challenges for more!