I went with a second mission in mind. To document the "event" but at the same time, see it with a different set of eyes, a new angle on a classic situation. Coming home, I thought this would be a good lesson for moms out there. A little less classic "swings or slide" shots and a little more "capture this moment" shots.
After reviewing my photos, I realized that the main theme of my photos ended up being "a new perspective". Seeing the same old things, but seeing them in a new way that can add a little excitement to your memories.
Find a frame. Look for nooks and crannies, places that you can see your subject at a different angle, or in a "frame". Don't be ashamed to make a funny face or vulgar noises to get a genuine smile.
Sometimes your subject isn't your subject. You don't always have to shoot your subject directly. Capturing this shadow tells the entire story itself, without ever seeing the child herself.
Take second stage. Let your subject, be the secondary part of the story. Showing a little detail with someone in the background, still reminds you that they were there at the moment, but shows a little detail that you might forget otherwise.
Look at your scene from an entirely new angle. With this shot, I just sat the camera in the grass, pointed it in the general direction and started shooting. I'm not scared to lay in the grass (despite the fact that I'm allergic to it - itching's worth a great shot) just to get a cool pic. Lay on your back, shoot straight up, shoot straight down, get in close or give your camera a little tilt.
Freeze time. Look at the settings on the top or the back of your camera. See that little running man? He's the one that will help you freeze a scene and capture a minute instant in time. This one is especially good for wiggly children and pets (unless you have a lazy cat like mine, then you can do time lapse and nothing will happen)
Find supporting details. Watch close, are there things around you that help tell the story? They don't have to have a person in them ALL the time to tell the complete story.
Capture the true moments. I won't say that I never set up a posed shot, or that I ask someone to turn and smile at the camera, because I DO ALL THE TIME, but a cheesy grin will NEVER tell the true emotion felt at any moment in time. Stand back, and just wait, be focused and ready, and when the moment comes, snap fast.
My three favorite tips:
1. Fill the frame with your subject. That means you'll probably need to get up, and walk 5 or 20 steps closer. Nothing says boring photo more than just a snapshot in the general direction where you can't see what's going on more than just who was there.
2. Remember, your camera can take vertical shots too. It's true. Try it. :p I grit my teeth to let a stranger take a photo of me. Everyone holds up the camera, and snap. Analyze your scene and make sure that what you want to capture wouldn't look better in a vertical. Hey, it's digital (well most of us anyway), what's it going to hurt if you try both ways?
3. Stop making your kids say cheese. It's a crying shame. And while you're at it, don't even make them look at the camera all the time. By doing so, you only capture who was there, you never will capture the emotion of the moment.
I read this once:
"I heard a really sad story. The kids were in the backyard playing football together, playing nicely and not fighting. Mom wanted to capture the moment. Dad yelled 'Come over here, your mom wants to take your picture.'"