Magic can be found in small or large moments, the mundane or routine, and all those tiny little details in between.
My love for capturing my own family has helped me realize how magical childhood is and how important it is to document those every day moments.
Below are 8 tips for finding that magic and capturing it.
Look for the Magic
The magic of childhood surrounds us everyday. Really, it’s right in front of you! Let yourself be the observer and enjoy watching.
Many days that I am at home with my children I turn the music on, let them play, and sit back to observe and photograph as the magic unfolds.
I find it meditative, feeding my creative soul, and putting me at ease. It’s within those observations that I find my greatest inspiration especially at home.
As the kids play and move throughout the house, listen and observe.
Listen for giggles while jumping on beds, tiny feet swooshing in the curtains, sticky paint filled hands, favorite lovies or blankies, dress up clothes, bubble baths, messy houses; the ordinary every day.
Keep your camera close by or know where to grab it quickly. Be the observer from behind the camera and before you know it the moment happens and you have it documented forever!
observe the light
Observe and make a mental note of the light throughout your house.
Think about the light in your house early in the morning, or as the sun goes down. Is the light soft or harsh?
Look for it…by training your eye to start seeing the light at different times of the day you will start to SEE pockets of light and all the beauty to be found within it. By doing this you can access where you might want to shoot at certain times of the day.
The picture below is soft morning light. This is my sleepyhead daughter who struggles to get up for school. She had made it out bed but was still on the floor curled up.
I quickly grabbed my camera and got down to her level to capture this peaceful moment of her and I love how this image tells me so much of her personality as well.
If you struggle knowing how to see the light, grab our FREE e-book, Finding the Light, to uncover the ways to see light in your environment & take your photography to a new level.
Set the scene
Kids don’t always play in that perfect light, that’s for sure!
Or sometimes you have a vision and it doesn’t include the mess around you. It’s okay to declutter AND it’s okay to photograph all the mess, but be intentional with your vision and why you have left something in or why you have taken it out.
There is nothing wrong with “setting” the scene for your kids to play in.
Maybe there is a favorite room to shoot in or you have noticed a beautiful pocket of light. Don’t be afraid to move the scene to the light and then observe! Move their coloring table to that room or plan an activity in that room to capture both their magic and the best light.
Think about using curtains to play peek a boo or just capture their tiny feet running through it.
Have them take a bubble bath in the bathroom or if they are small enough in the kitchen sink!
Do they have a favorite lovie or blanket? Ask them to snuggle up to it in a spot of beautiful light.
Here we where on vacation and we don’t have glass shower doors at home so I intentionally steamed up the bathroom and asked my daughter to kiss the glass.
After awhile, you will be so familiar with the light throughout your house year-round and know just when and where to capture those favorite moments!
While at home with kids, I find this is my favorite time to be creative; to try new things and just have fun!
You can play with different angles, motion, dramatic lighting and so much more. It’s a time to just let go and play with what makes you happy.
Think about how to play with angles to enhance your image.
Lay down on the floor to create a strong sense of leading lines to your subject.
Stand up on a chair, balcony or ladder to create a strong sense of depth and mood.
Use a stairwell or bench to create leading lines to your subject.
All of these creative angles will only enhance the emotion of your image!
Children are full of color. Whether it’s in their clothing, or in what they are playing, color surrounds childhood, and I love to embrace it.
Think about how you can make color work for you by placing your subject in a scene that will either complement their colors or pop off of a simple neutral background.
Color is such an important part of childhood and there is so much beauty in it.
Color can also come from their artwork, chalk or paint. Photograph the art they create as well!
Capture the details
Capturing the details is so important, and one of my favorite ways to tell a story.
In the image below, I went in to check on my girls before I went to bed and found my daughter sleeping in the mask and I knew I wanted to capture it.
Although it was night time already, this did not stop me from finding a way to capture this moment. It was dark so I snuck in and placed my laptop next to my daughter to illuminate her face to capture her details.
Don’t be afraid to utilize artificial light when needed to capture fleeting moments.
This moment is timeless of childhood and to me is a joyful moment in finding the magic of every day!
The simple portrait
A simple portrait is one of my favorite ways to capture the magic of childhood.
It embraces the stage of life your child is in right now & there’s so much beauty can be found in a simple portrait.
Find a single light source such as a window.
I like to place my subject at 90 degrees to create harsher shadows or 45 degrees to give a bit of a softer look, depending on the mood of my child at the moment.
I will ask them to giggle, I will tell a joke to make them laugh or just ask them to not smile to get a peaceful, somber moment. These are usually my favorite as I see so much beauty and emotion in their eyes.
On the go
Take that camera with you!
You may not think you have room for it in your bag with all that other mom stuff, but you can make it work! You don’t want to be without your camera!
I use a backpack that I know will fit my camera plus all that mom stuff.
When we get to where we are going I usually take my camera out and use my camera strap as a sling across my body so that between my backpack and sling I can slide my camera to my back and have my hands free for the kids, but I also have easy access to grab a shot on the go!
Everyday magic is created on the go as well…in the grocery store, at the park, and on the train. Don’t be afraid to bring your camera with you and capture those moments too!
Time is fleeting.
These are the images, and ways to capture your story while breathing life into the magic of childhood.
But, these images are anything but ordinary, they capture the timeless emotion of childhood.
They are the truth of your current moments and will be images you will want to remember forever because that was your story at that time.
The days can be long especially for a stay at home mom, but I have found great joy in creating my own art while photographing my everyday and I know you can too!
Natalie Marotta specializes in fine art and authentic portraiture, building moments that are Remembered, Loved and Imagined. Natalie applies her background in painting; an attention to detail and use of light to her photography. Natalie loves to artfully capture everyday moments in a magical and storytelling way. She resides in Chicago with her husband and four children. You can visit and follow Natalie on her website and Instagram.