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Capturing the Magic of Childhood Through Play

Over the years and especially during my photography journey, I have been obsessed with capturing the magic of childhood through everyday play. This wasn’t always the case, and at one point, I tried a more traditional, portrait style photography with my kids. During those first months of trying to figure out settings and getting three very young boys to sit and be still and smile collectively, I found myself in tears and consumed with frustration more times than not. I knew there had to be a better way.

After discovering that portrait photography was not for me, I found the ever so talented community of Clickin Moms, and thus my love and passion for documentary and lifestyle photography was born. Capturing moments that were true and real and authentic became my obsession. Some call them snapshots or candids but what I saw when I looked through my camera lens was so much more than that. It was magical. Below I list some of my favorite tips for capturing the magic of childhood through everyday play. Hope you enjoy!

Capturing moments that were true and real and authentic became my obsession. Some call them snapshots or candids but what I saw when I looked through my camera lens was so much more than that. It was magical.Click To Tweet

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Capturing the Magic of Childhood Through Play

8 Ways You Can Capture The Magic of Childhood Through Play

  1. Let Kids Play – This one seems pretty obvious, but truthfully, it isn’t always easy to stop and let the scene unfold. We are programmed to want to get that perfect “look at me” shot but finding that magic happens when you stop looking for perfection and watch the magic take shape through authentic play.
  2. Be Present – Be present. Some people have the idea that moms who photograph their kids aren’t truly present in the moment, but I find that to be the complete opposite from my truth. Through photography, I find myself more present than ever, seeing and feeling everything around me during those moments when my camera is in hand. Being present in the moment plays a big part in capturing the magic of childhood in an authentic way.
  3. Stop & Observe – Take a minute to stop and take in the scene. Watch your children as they play. Take note of what they are doing and how they are interacting with the space around them. Look for leading lines or shapes or colors that may help in telling this magical story unfolding in front of you.
  4. Take Notice of Light – Where is the light? How can you position yourself to ensure the light does its part. Playing off of light and using it to your advantage is what will genuinely spark magic in your photos.
    Capturing the Magic of Childhood Through Play
  5. Get in the Frame – When possible, get in the photo. Purchase a tripod and remote and set it up when play is taking place; or hand your camera over to someone else and have them take the shot. Getting in the frame is something that I haven’t ever done on a regular basis. For years, I have taken thousands of photos, many of which included my husband and my boys interacting. I cherish those photos but now looking back; I wish I had gotten into the frame more. So this year, I made a vow to do just that. Getting in the frame will be such a treasure in years to come when the magic of today is only a mere memory.
  6. Be Conscious of Emotion & Connection – Take notice of emotion and connection in the scene. This connection could be between siblings or friends, or anyone that is connecting with your child. Also, be sure to capture moments when emotion is present. Whether it be authentic smiles or fits of laughter, emotion can create a beautiful image all on its own. And who doesn’t love a real, genuine smile that sparks a memory of the beautiful moments of childhood?
  7. Embrace Imperfections – Embrace imperfections. Imperfections are what makes these images a true representation of the magic of childhood. In portrait photography, many times perfection is the ultimate goal. But with photographs caught during a genuine, authentic moment like play, imperfection is the key and makes up a huge part of the story that we are so desperately trying to tell.
  8. Tell a Story – Once the story begins to unfold in front of you, take photos that tell that story. Go through the list above and let that be your guide in ensuring that your story of play is told in a beautiful, authentic way.

So there ya go, a few tips for how you can capture the magic of childhood through play as well. Don’t think you have to get that perfect portrait photo to get a frame worthy shot. These photos are the ones that will spark memories of when our children were young and laughter filled our home. They are the ones we will always treasure.

What about you? Do you have a way that you like to capture the magic of childhood during everyday play? I’d love to hear.

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