Guest Post: Get Yourself in the Picture!
I’m happy to include the following guest post by Francine Michelle. Francine Michelle is the founder and CEO of Video Baby Books (www.videobabybooks.com), an innovative company that captures and documents little ones from the womb and beyond, in addition to educating parents on the importance of keeping track of milestones for more than just posterity. She was one of the speakers on the Entrepreneurship for Parents panel at The Family SpringFest Event, hosted by Club MomMe.
Get Yourself in the Picture
The first mistake
As moms, typically from the very start we are obsessed with capturing every moment in our newborns’ lives, including dreaming babies and their sweet reflex smiles. I myself probably have more videos of my little one sleeping than awake from his first month of life. The problem is that this creates a habit early on of inconspicuously filming our babies. We may hear ourselves in the background, but we’re nowhere to be seen. This ends up being a mistake for many reasons.
Include family members
When capturing home movies, it is important to do your best to include as many family members as possible, even the furry ones. Believe it or not, home movies help individuals to better understand who they are by giving them a clearer picture of where they came from. Photos typically are posed, where as movies can show life as it happened, creating a unique look at specific moments in time. A few seconds here and there captured on film will help your little one to better understand the world in which they were brought in to and ultimately define them.
Don’t be camera shy
Moms tend to feel pretty camera shy, especially soon after giving birth, but your child is going to want to see those moments of you both interacting. We may love looking back at images of our baby all by themselves doing something adorable, but that video will be so much more valuable in years to come if you are in it as well. It would really be a shame not to get videos of yourself loving on your baby for 75% of the first year of their life. Just imagine if you had home movies of you as an infant interacting with your parents, it would be priceless.
Ask another person to hold the camera
So how does the person who typically does all the filming get in the picture? You have a few options to consider. The first would be to hand off your camera (or cell phone) whenever you can. Even a blurry snippet that’s improperly framed will be better than nothing. You can even set up the shot as you hand off your camera, use autofocus, and show the framing that you want before jumping in front of the lens. So many people will hand their photo camera (or cell phone) off to a stranger at tourist destinations, asking someone to film a few seconds really isn’t all that different. If you’re at a playground with other moms and babies, another mom will be more than happy to help out and you can then return the favor. Play back the video, and if you don’t like what you see, delete it and try again (as long as who ever filmed is willing, of course). Most of the adorable things that babies do won’t look all that different a minute or two later. If the moment was an amazing, extra-special one-time occurrence, be sure to journal about it so that at least your little one will be able to read first hand about the event and your feelings about it when it happened.
Get a tripod, mount, or stand
If you’re a stay-at-home mom who is typically alone with your little one and don’t have anyone to hand the camera off to, purchase an affordable mount, mini tripod, or stand with a clip. Keep it on-hand so that if you have a moment you want to capture, you can set the camera up to record and then get in the picture. Don’t worry so much about having extra footage before and after you get into the frame, you can always edit those few seconds out later. Another thing to keep in mind, when you feel that the moment has past and you think it’s time to stop shooting, hold a few more seconds, something really magical may happen. This was a lesson I learned early on as a director, and even as a “home video director,” it still holds true.
Hire a professional
Finally, you can hire a professional to film you and your family, much like you would hire a professional photographer. Many families understand the importance of doing a family photo shoot at least once a year to document their growth and changes, but your children’s personalities can’t always be captured in a single frame. Consider hiring a videographer to shoot behind-the-scenes of your photo shoot to capture the emotion between the shutter clicks. Or bring a videographer in to film a special event. Interviews can also be a part of the shoot that can incorporate older generations to create a true living family history that can be treasured for generations to come.
Whatever option(s) you decide to go with, get out from behind the camera now and get in the picture as much as possible. Your kids will thank you for it.
Francine Michelle is the founder and CEO of Video Baby Books (www.videobabybooks.com), an innovative company that captures and documents little ones from the womb and beyond, in addition to educating parents on the importance of keeping track of milestones for more than just posterity. She is an award winning narrative and documentary filmmaker who, after the birth of her son, saw a significant need in the marketplace; she changed her focus to helping other parents preserve their relationships with their children for generations to come. Francine creates “video scrap books” editing together parent interviews with images of the family, the nursery, milestones and special events, as well as home movies and photos to help tell each baby’s individually story to help inform them where they came from. Francine holds a BFA in Directing from the University of Michigan, is a Director Member of the Actor’s Studio, and has taught Acting to kids and adults for more than a decade.