Oct 072014
A family photo from 1969.

A family photo from 1969. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The combination of digital photography and social media means taking and sharing family pictures has never been easier. But what makes a good photo?  Seems pretty simple, right?  Grab your camera or your phone, choose a subject you love, point and click.

Not so fast.  How do you decide how closely to look at your subject?  Or what lighting is most flattering?  What stays in the frame and what do you leave out?  And what the heck does this have to do with parenting?

I picked up my first camera in grade school and have been hooked ever since.  In addition to being a great way to capture and share memories, photography offers some great metaphors for day-to-day decisions about family life. Here are three tips from photographers that might help bring your parenting decisions into sharper focus.

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1)  Focus.  Parents have many opportunities to practice this one. “What we focus on gets bigger” and  “picking our battles” spring instantly to mind.  Where is your attention?  Do you use car rides to listen to your kids or distracted?  And, even though you’re busy, how often are you able to carve out time to give undivided attention to the people who matter most? Where is your focus?

2) Framing.  Sometimes what you choose to leave out of a photo is as important as what you choose to include. (The same can probably be said for discussion, diets and drama, right?) In a photo, using natural borders (like rooflines, horizons and fences) to reinforce the boundary created by the frame helps viewers focus on the subject you chose.  I think it’s a lot like what happens when we create rules and boundaries   —  they help our kids stay safe while they’re developing skills and strategies they need to operate in the world.

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3) Cropping.  Technology makes it pretty simple to cut out all the distracting background and let your beautiful subject fill the frame.  Putting a tight focus on your subject cuts out the clutter and allows the viewer a better view of your subject.  The main thing gets to be the main thing. Technology-free zones and family dinners are two ways to do this.

What tips do you have for making family life a prettier picture?


Want to connect on Instagram?  I’m having fun with phone photos there.

  4 Responses to “What Makes a Good Photo?”

  1. My biggest thing was family dinner. Growing up, I always at the “kid” table. My parents and two older sisters would eat in the TV room. When I had my kids, we all ate dinner together at the same table and talked and ate. Even now, we host family dinner every Wednesday night and the kidadults come over for good food and good company. Hubs and I focus on the bonds we build 🙂

  2. Loved how you used the parenting / family photo metaphor Andrea. Loved the post!

  3. What solid tips for thinking about our parenting as we craft a photo. I can always use a fresh lens for reflecting on parenting!

  4. What are you talking about? That’s a beautiful photo right there.:)

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