One of the best ideas I ever had was taking an annual photo of the kids. I always do it Thanksgiving week. Then it’s perfect timing to turn into a holiday card. But any time of year that makes sense to you will work. The trick is to pick a time that is convenient and you can remember year to year.

Find a spot in your house that has a window. Arrange the kids so that the window light is lighting their faces from the side. (You don’t have to see the window in the photo). Ideally you will figure out which window and time of day is best. We use a window that faces west and shoot in the morning, so instead of a harsh light streaming in, we get a soft glow. Once you have figured out the spot and time, remember it. And do the picture there every year. If the setting stays the same, the variety will be in how your kids are changing. If you like, you can always use the same chair. I prefer putting a white tablecloth over the chair to make it less important.

Turn off your camera’s flash. Now, before they are completely ready, start snapping away. Of course it’s nice to get cooperation, but as long as the kids are being themselves, it’s a neat picture.

You don’t have to decide whether you want to shoot in color or black and white. I love the black and white but you can shoot the pictures in color even if you decide to print them in black and white. Take a look at these shots of my own kids. Over the years it is fun to see the goofy stages as well as the adolescent ones and even grumpy ones. If you don’t worry about making a “proper” picture, and just record the era, you will find you’ve created a real treasure. And don’t forget to celebrate each and every quirky phase!


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