The 3 Photography Timing Mistakes Moms Make

a mom taking a photograph of her son

Today I want to share the three most common mistakes moms make that has them missing the moment -and what to do about it.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from parents is that they are always missing the moment when trying to photograph their kids.

This can mean many things from literally not having your camera ready when the photo-worthy moments occur, to trying but failing to capture the moment adequately because the resulting photos are blurry and don’t do the moment justice. Not only that, many moms also find themselves torn between photographing and experiencing the moment.

As a mom myself I know this is a challenge, but one of the things I love to do is work with parents toexpand their concept of the moments worth capturing and help them capture more moments than they ever thought possible, so the occasional missed moment is not a big deal anymore.

I also show them how photography can bring them more into the moment so they can capture AND experience it.

Here then are the three biggest mistakes I see moms making… and what to do about them.

Mistake #1: asking your kids to smile and say cheese

Everyone does it! In fact, it is so ingrained in our culture even my kids say it or mimic it and I never tell them to say cheese! In fact, Jack grabbed my phone the other day and made a fake camera-grimace at the screen – it was hilarious.

Certainly, it is a fast route to those photos we all want of our children smiling and looking at the camera… but it also prevents us from capturing a wider range of more natural emotions and expressions that are going to be more meaningful and evocative years down the line. This is because asking your child to smile and say cheese trains them to become very camera aware and to stop what they are doing and pose (or turn away complaining) every time they see the camera.

So, see if you can kill this habit – it will be hard at first, but instead of asking them to smile and say cheese, try getting your children engrossed in something they love and then focus on capturing natural interactions and moments. You will find you have so many more moments to capture!

You will have to work a little harder to get natural smiles and eye contact – do so by engaging with them from behind the camera and making them laugh and smile without directly asking them to.

Do both these things and the payoff will be worthwhile as you end up with a more in depth documentation of your child’s personality and life rather than a series of posed snapshots with the same expression.

Mistake #2: Focusing on your camera instead of on your child

Another reason your kids may object to being photographed is because they know that the camera takes your focus away from them.

In fact, parents often complain that not only do they miss the moment but their camera seems to RUIN the moment and this is one of the reasons why.

Instead try to keep your focus on your kids and talk and engage as though the camera weren’t there. If you are unsure of your settings, try practicing on inanimate objects when your kids aren’t there (or take a workshop to get some help). Use your camera to be MORE in the moment when you are with your kids by using it to focus on them. Really see them, their emotions and what they are experiencing and stay in tune with your own emotions and what you most want to remember about this time as well.

Mistake #3: Waiting for the moment to occur before reaching for the camera

The third most common problem is that you are literally missing moments – by the time you reach for the camera and turn it on, the moment has passed.

What you want to do is be proactive rather than reactive, which means ANTICIPATING moments and having your camera out and ready ahead of time.

Sound impossible? It’s not! If you start paying attention and tap into your mom-intuition, you will find that you often have a sense for when something photo-worthy is going to happen. Sometimes it’s obvious (it’s cake time at the birthday party) or you are on high alert (your baby has been on the verge of crawling for days). Other times it’s more subtle – your toddler is about to give another child a hug, or grandma is about to pick the baby up.

You can also take a more active role in creating moments (and good experiences for everyone involved) – take your camera out and then put the baby in the swing, encourage your kids to play together or set up a fun activity.


Be on the look out for the elements of a good photo – light, emotion, an interesting background, a significant moment – and you’ll find there are photo opportunities everywhere.

For more on capturing natural interactions and expressions, check out the Stop Missing the Moment workshop, an online self-guided workshop that will get you unstuck with your photography and show you some of the possibilities – no experience necessary and it will take less than an hour!