Despite the fact that I get to see my daughter everyday, there is often a moment where I look over at her, and realize she looks twice as tall and so much wiser than she was yesterday. Instead of running to the attic and crying over boxes of baby clothes, like I used to do, I’ve started a new tradition. I I grab my camera and set out to make a time photo time capsule.
Like most moms do, I always snap some photos when my daughter is headed out in a new outfit or when she is drawing a masterpiece...on the walls. Still, I haven't captured many of my favorite moments that may fade to blurry memories too soon. I always think I’ll remember which stuffed animal was her favorite for the first 8 months, or what her reaction was like the first time we put a bunch of glowsticks in the bathtub, but sadly, it’s hard to hold on to all those happy memories forever. I blame mom brain! Thankfully, photographs can last long enough for her to share those memories with her grandchildren one day.
The time capsule project is as much for her as it is me. We will soon move out of her childhood home, and toys that were once her favorites will be passed along. There are certain triggers, like smells, colors, places that bring back a rush of memories. I like to think that photographs can trigger some of those priceless memories, and help fill the gaps where our minds have failed us. The point of creating a photo time capsule is to freeze a day in time that captures all those little things, and then make an album filled with memory “triggers”.
Before you start shooting, take a moment to think about all the little things that you want the remember which make this season of life so special. Their silly hair in the morning, a song that always puts a smile on their face, their crazy eating habits, or a stuffed animal they never travel far without.
One of the things to love about toddlerhood, is that it’s easier to be a “fly on the wall” when photographing them. I don’t think it will be so easy for me to capture these genuine emotions and candid moments once she is more aware of the camera, and decides to strike a pose. The trick though, is to be very fast. Some of the most breathtaking moments only last for a brief second. My camera is never out of my reach all day when I am shooting a “time capsule”.
Given that the time to snap one of those candid moments is so brief, my camera has to be set ahead of time. Here are my “go to” settings. My 50mm lens is my all time favorite for in home lifestyle sessions. The only time I may mix it up is with my 85mm for some details shots, or something fun and funky like a fisheye lens. Anytime I photograph a bouncy little kid, I start with shutter speed of 1/250 or faster. My favorite place to stay for my aperture is between f/2.8 and f/4.0. I will be mostly shooting with natural light, and occasionally rely on my 580 EXII speedlight to light the way. Since none of these shots will be staged, it means working on the fly with whatever light is there. I start out by opening all the curtains and blinds so most of the rooms in my house will have decent lighting and be ready to go. In fear of grainy images, I prefer to keep my ISO below 1200 when possible. However, I am not afraid to embrace the dark if it fits the mood. After all, this shoot isn’t about getting the perfect exposure, but capturing life exactly “as is”.
What is it about tiny little toes? Even though I am admittedly terrified of all adult feet, I can’t get enough of those baby toes.
Bonus points, add a handwritten note for your child in the photo album. Stash it away to reminisce together in just a few short years. Oh boy, where are my tissues...