Back in the day when capturing a moment meant deliberately keeping a (film!) camera at the ready, our collections of childhood photos were finite.
Holidays and special occasions got top billing. However, it’s the random candids that stand out in memory- the photos our parents snapped simply because they didn’t want to forget how we once were.
They endure in disorganized (though not bottomless) shoeboxes, and neatly arranged in gold embossed photo albums.
These days, there are few moments that pass by without someone whipping out a phone to capture it. And with the ease of snapping, comes an overwhelming volume of output.
But how many of these files are we ever going to print, let alone look at ever again? What are the chances we’ll haul out dusty hard drives and even have the ability to see what’s on them?
It stands to reason we’d all benefit from capturing these fleeting moments more thoughtfully. Approach the photographing of childhood less like the paparazzi, and more like a documentarian.
Here are 27 shots that you (and your kids) will love to look back on.
1. Newborn feet
Listen, they’re not going to be that cute forever. (Or look even remotely as miraculous and amazing for long.)
2. First birthday cake smash
There are few times in a person’s life when going elbows deep into a pile of frosting is going to be deemed acceptable. Make this one count.
3. Less than Sunday best
Sure, they look fantastic when they’re all dressed up. But the true representation of childhood? They’re often a hot mess. Snap a few of the less than shiny days.
4. First bike
This photo is as much for you as it is for them. Do you remember the sheer awesomeness of your first bike? Chances are you remember it in detail whether you have a photo of it or not. (And if you don’t, I’m sure you wish you did.)
5. Bathtime mohawk
6. Favorite lovey
There’s always going to be something they refuse to sleep/eat/leave the house without. Whether it’s for a matter of weeks, or years, looking back on the things that really mattered to them is about as nostalgic as it gets.
7. Candid interactions with friends
There is really nothing sweeter than two small people interacting with each other. (Well, except for the times they’re clubbing each other in the head with toys or screaming about who had what first.) And what better fodder for their future #TBT posts than photographic evidence of their squad from back in the day?
8. Bedtime reading
Bedtime is often overlooked as a time worth documenting. Likely because anything that potentially slows down the process seems like sabotage. However, a photo to recall the cozy snuggles is worth the risk.
9. Hand holding
Because one day you’re going to realize you can’t remember the last time they spontaneously held your hand. And you’ll be the awkward person crying on the elevator.
10. Favorite spots
That little rickety dock they fished off at the lake each summer, the rope swing at the local apple orchard, the biggest rock in the park that played everything from spaceship to castle. Think of the little places that seem so much a part of now. As time goes by, their memory weaves itself into the fabric of a childhood.
13. Little person, big world
It doesn’t always have to be a close up. Collect some images that convey just how big their world once seemed.
They aren’t always in top form. In fact, they’re often NOT in top form. Keep it real.
15. Sleeping in unusual places
Because napping doesn’t always happen at the most convenient times and some kids can sleep anywhere. (This could be a series that lasts a lifetime, truthfully.)
16. That silly thing that only they do
Maybe it’s their patented scowl, or their insistence on wearing sound canceling headphones to make smoothies. Whatever it is, photograph it.
17. Eating things. Messily.
Because they’re going to outgrow it. Hopefully.
18. Being brave
Collect photos that empower them. Everyone likes to look back and realize they’ve always been a badass.
19. At the beach
Especially that first time they see the ocean. And refuse to touch the sand with their actual body. (Or insist on being up to their neck in it. Depends on the kid, I suppose.)
20. Making a mess
Lots of opportunity for this one. Legend has it, you miss these days when they’re over.
21. Sick day
If someone tried to take my photo the last time I was sick, I’d have summoned every ounce of strength I didn’t know I had and roundhoused that phone right out of their inconsiderate hand. That’s because I’m an adult. However, when our kids are sick, it’s often supremely sweet.
22. Doing their thing (cooking, art, sports)
Sometimes, it’s easy to see from day one what a kid was simply born to do. These will come in handy when compiling the photo montage for their episode of “Behind the Music” or their their first James Beard Award Ceremony.
Because it’s not always sunshine and roses. You may have to take this in stealth mode as to not escalate the already devastating situation, but it could end up a family favorite.
24. New trick
They won’t even protest this one. In fact, they may ask you take to 400.
25. Crazy dressed
Sometimes you can’t leave the house unless you’re wearing a tutu. Or a cape. Or underwear on your head.
26. With people who are special to them
We always snag photos of the kids with the usual suspects. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles. But there are plenty of people who have a real impact on relatively small swaths of life. Librarians and teachers, nurses and shopkeepers. Take photos that spark memories of those we love all too briefly.
27. Know when the scene is ripe for a posed photo.
Sometimes, it just can’t be helped. (Here are my rules: Not too busy, interesting textures, pops of color.)