I have a private Facebook group just for clients of my family photography business and over the holidays I asked everyone what their biggest struggle is photographing their own children. One of the most popular answers was getting good shots of their kids together. I totally get it! You’ve got one who isn’t looking, the other one isn’t smiling or, they just won’t sit still! It’s enough to make any mama put down the camera and say ‘why bother?’. What if I told you that you’re going about it the wrong way?

I think we’ve become obsessed with perfection. The perfectly posed, everyone-looking-at-the-camera photo. But what does that even say about your family? There’s no connection. If those are the only photos you’re taking, you’re missing out on so many images that show off what makes your children special and unique. Most of the photos I love of my own children are ones that capture some part of their personality or their relationship.

Still, I know you crave those genuine smiles. I do too! I’m just not willing to have it end in tears. Once I changed the way I approach my kids with my camera, things got a lot easier.

The very first thing I think you can do to get better sibling photos is to cultivate a positive attitude about pictures.

Talk to your kids about why they’re important to you. Pictures are a way to tell stories. They connect us to our past and help us remember what it was like growing up. Let them know that you’re going to be taking more pictures, but that they don’t have to stop playing or look at the camera. If you leave the camera out and snap pictures regularly while they’re playing, eating, or even sleeping; pretty soon they won’t even hear you click the shutter.

So how will this help? Like I said before, if you’re only taking your camera out for big events like the annual Christmas card photo, they’re going to associate picture taking with stress and frustration. Come on, you know what I’m talking about. Getting everyone all dressed up and praying that they behave for just.one.photo so you can send a perfect card is not always easy or fun. By bringing the camera out more often and making it a fun experience, they’ll be more likely to cooperate when it comes time to get everyone smiling.

Be patient.

Easier said than done when it comes to our own children, but the more you sit back and observe, the easier it gets to anticipate moments that are frame worthy. Plus, you’re not forcing a moment to happen. You’re just waiting for it to come naturally and that’s when you get the best photos. Look for a physical or emotional connection. A physical connection is when they’re close. Maybe playing together, reading a book, walking together, hugging, etc. An emotional connection is all about the bond that they share. Maybe big brother is teaching little brother how to throw a football or sisters are playing dress up. Olivia loves to pull Jaime’s hair and I knew I wanted to capture that memory. All I had to do was wait for it to happen 🙂

Make it fun!

If you want to capture genuine smiles, you’re going to have to do a little work. And by that I mean, play games, act silly, make fat noises, anything that will get them laughing and not thinking about the camera. If your kids are little a great game to play is Simon Says. This way you can line everyone up and they’ll all be together in the frame. Also, give everyone a turn to be Simon so it holds their interest a little longer. Ring Around the Rosie is another good one. A fun shot is to wait until they ‘all fall down’ to take the picture. For this shot of Olivia, we played ‘so big’. She loves to show off her new tricks! And it kept her from crawling towards me and off the bed!

Get help!

If you really want a nice picture of all of your kids smiling, have someone help you. Your husband, partner, friend, or family member can be the one to act silly so you can click away and pray for a keeper! My niece and nephew were with my while I took this picture at my mom’s house on Thanksgiving.

And there you have it. I hope these help a little! I’d love to connect with you on Instagram and see your photos. Come find me and say hello!

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In my last two posts we talked about a simple exercise you can do to help unlock your creativity and also how to find your creative voice. The idea behind this blog series is to get you to think more creatively about the world around you. As a mom, I’m sure you are busy with the chaos of everyday life and there’s not much time to explore your creative side. I’m hoping this series of posts will inspire you to see the beauty in the world around you and maybe motivate you to pick up your camera more often. Or write in a journal. Or paint a picture. However you like to express yourself. Since I’m a photographer, we’re going to focus on taking pictures.

In this post, I want to share some ideas I came up with that can help spark your creativity. I’m not going to give you a ton of direction other than to explain what the photo prompt means. I’d love for you to share any pictures you take too!

10 Ways to Spark your Creativity. Simple photography prompts you can use to help inspire and motivate you. www.stacymaeandco.com

1. Photograph a day in your life. From start to finish. Keep your camera accessible or just use your smartphone. Photograph your routines and document the things that you do everyday that don’t normally get recorded. Breakfast. Saying goodbye to the kids at the bus stop. Where you work. Chores. Storytime. All of it!

2. Take a faceless portrait. Normally a portrait involves your subject’s face, but I’m challenging you to photograph something other than their face. This is a great opportunity to focus on details and get creative with your composition. One way to do this is to get in nice and close to your subject and isolate just one part of them. Hands, hair, lips, etc.

3. Edit your phone photos. If you use your smartphone for most of your pictures, are you editing them? There are a ton of really great apps out there that can take your photos to the next level. A couple of my faves are Lightroom, A Color Story, VSCO, and PicTapGo. Start by increasing the overall brightness or exposure of your image. You can also play around with the contrast and shadows to make your image more dramatic. If you like a lot of color, check out the saturation slider on these apps or apply a filter. Flex those creative muscles!

4. Go on a photo scavenger hunt. All it takes is a simple Google search and you’ll be met with tons of options for items to photograph on your scavenger hunt. You can make it seasonal or search for items in your home. This is a great one to get the kids involved in and excited about taking pictures.

5. Use an interesting backdrop. You can find all sorts of great backdrops outside or you can make your own. When you’re out and about look for color, patterns, and textures that would make a cool background for a photo. If you want to get crafty, create your own backdrop using a fun wrapping paper, pretty fabric, blanket, or even a chalkboard.

6. Take a blurry photo. I’m talking intention blur. Not the kind that happens by accident. Most of the time we want our photos crisp and clear, but an intentionally blurry photo can be beautiful. To do this, set your camera to manual focus and twist the ring until your subject is blurred. If you are using your smartphone, tap anywhere on the screen that is not your main focus and your subject should stay blurry. When you are deciding what to take a picture of, think of capturing a feeling or a gesture.

7. Photograph your home. I’ve been doing a lot of this lately. Especially since we are getting ready to welcome a new baby into our home. Your home is where you spend most of your time and everyone is always so reluctant to take pictures of it! Why? Because it’s not perfectly clean or styled? Who cares? It’s your home. It’s not supposed to be. If it was, it wouldn’t look lived in. Still, I understand the hesitation so here are a few things you can do. Take it one room at a time. It’s much easier to tidy up one room than it is to deal with your entire house. Decide if you want to capture the whole room (with a wide angle lens) or just a small portion of it. Use natural light if you can so that means pulling back the curtains or opening a door to let more light in.

8. Try food photography. You’ve probably already done this. Think about the last time you were out at a restaurant and you had an amazing meal. Did you take out your phone and snap a photo? I know I’ve done it. Mostly with desserts. What does that tell you about me? Lol! Food photography is a great way to practice composition and how to arrange the elements in your frame. Here are a few tips when snapping pics of your food. Try different angles. Get up on a chair and shoot from above. Get in nice and close to highlight the textures. Make it come to life! Pour syrup on your stack of pancakes. Take a bite of the cupcake you just made. Or sprinkle cheese on your favorite pasta.

9. Style a flat lay. A flat lay is arranging items in your frame and shooting from above. If you scroll through instagram you’ve probably seen a million flat lays. Fashion bloggers use them for clothing. Beauty bloggers use them to showcase makeup. If you’ve ever taken a photo of your food from above that would be considered a flat lay too. So, give it a try for yourself. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind. Shoot in square mode on your phone if you’re going to be posting on IG. Stick with an odd number of objects in your frame – 3, 5, 7, etc. Larger items should be towards the edge of the frame and the bottom too. Keep the background simple. And use natural light whenever possible.

10. Photograph your pet. Talk about a challenge. Lol! Make sure you’ve got lots of treats on hand for this one. Or just practice some patience. You can wait until they are tired from playing and don’t mind having a camera in their face. Or try to capture the action. Just keep your shutter speed super high!

I hope you enjoy these ideas! My advice would be to pick your favorite and give it a go! Or go through the list when you’re feeling stuck. I would love to see what you come up with so please feel free to tag @stacymaeandco on Instagram or post your pictures in the private Facebook group.

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