Getting Real With Lisa Van De Graaff

There are moments that happen only once, like the expression on a mother’s face when she first looks into her child’s eyes, or the magnificent, game-winning slide into home base. When captured with a camera, these moments find immortality as the image resurrects emotions and transports us to turning points in our lives.

Then there are the moments that happen only once for the first time, specifically all the firsts for our children (first step, first ice cream cone, first airplane ride). As parents, we want to capture these special moments as well, so that we may keep the baby book updated or so that we may continue to revisit these treasured times in our lives.

We follow our kids with our digital cameras, snapping away and giving an aura of paparazzi-gone-wild to every event. These are important memories, and a photograph is an essential reminder, but I have a radical idea: Instead of trying to capture the “first” on film, let’s capture the “second”. The camera can put a barrier between us and the moment, so let’s put the camera down and live in the moment of our child’s first step. Let’s be there, really be there with all our senses, and give the moment all its depth. Then pick up the camera, snap some shots of his second step, and have a visual memory to recall the moment you fully experienced.

When you do pick up the camera, here are a few tips:

(1) Use natural light whenever possible. The image will be softer and more authentic without the flash.
(2) Capture whatever is in the moment. We all have ideas of what the perfect photograph looks like, but don’t we really just want to remember a special time? Perhaps your child is looking at a shadow with a new understanding, let him live in that moment and snap a photograph even though he isn’t looking at the lens.
(3) Give your child the camera. This is a new discovery for me – I have to balance the camera’s weight, but she takes wonderful photographs from her perspective!