Get in the Frame | Long Island, NY Family Documentary Photography

I was asked recently by a parent of one of Lila's classmates, "Does anyone ever take photos of you?" The answer is yes. ME! I learned how to use my first DSLR back in 2008 by taking on a self-portrait project for 365 days. Yep, I turned the camera on myself every day for an entire year. And what did I do when I finished it? I did another one. Two years of self-portraits everyday. I look back on those photos now, and yes, some of them really suck - but they also tell an amazing story of being on the road and traveling all over the country and seeing so many new places. They document a truly awesome time in my life and I am so grateful for them.

Now, post-children, yes, it is harder to turn the camera on myself for a number of reasons: I don't have time to set up the tripod, the kids are screaming, I need to lose 20 lbs. It may be harder, but you know what? When I actually get out of my own way, and JUST DO IT - its really not that hard at all. And having those photos with me in the frame? Those are the photos that will be invaluable to my children when they are grown. 

So how do I get photos of myself? Well, there are a few easy ways to do this:

1. Self-timer. Every camera has one. EVEN YOUR i-PHONE HAS ONE. So look up the instructions and figure out how to turn it on. Set the camera up on a tripod, or the kitchen table or a pile of books or the floor - or ANYWHERE. Focus on the spot where you will be sitting, hit the self-timer and then get in the frame. If your kids are playing - set up the camera, focus on them, hit the self-timer, and then go and get in the frame with them. Its easy peasy.

2. Remote. You can buy a remote for most DSLRs and many of the new cameras (DSLRs, mirrorless, point and shoot) these days also have apps that you can install on your phone that contain a remote control. Again - set up your camera. Get in the frame and fire that remote. You can either change your camera focus to manual, focus on the spot where you will be, and then get in the frame and fire the remote, or you can leave the focus in auto, get in the frame, and then fire the remote. If you have your highlighted focal point set on the spot where you will be sitting, the camera should focus on you when you press the remote. I have also found (thanks to a tip from a friend!) that turning the face-detection on in camera helps to focus the camera on me.

3. Time lapse. Many new cameras now have a time lapse option. For natural self-portraits, especially documenting an activity - set your camera to shoot a time lapse and just let it fire away while you get in the frame. There are sure to be some keepers!

4. Arm's length. The EASIEST of all self-portraits - for those times when you don't feel safe putting your camera down (maybe you are out and about?) or you are just too lazy to get out the tripod (me most of the time!). Zoom out your lens, or put a wide lens on your camera (35mm works well) - hold the camera away from your face, and shoot.

When all else fails and self-portraits are just not working for you - give your camera to a family member or friend, and have them take a photo of you and your kids. Or book a family photo session. Just don't let years and years go by and then realize you have no photos of you actually with your kids. (Another great post by photographer Amanda Voelker about this subject here).

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Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you."