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It is actually one of my first memories. Reaching into the back of my childhood closet, a cloak of darkness filled my room. It was early, too early in the middle of a midwest winter for the sun to wake and stretch it’s warm (or at least the idea that it was warm, it didn’t feel quite like it in the middle of a frost) rays over our days, over our windows. Through the barely-there light peaking our from under the shade on my nightstand, I felt through shoes, clothes, most likely crayons, brushes and whatever else an adolescent girl leaves spread on the floor behind her closet door. I couldn’t find a match to my pink, glittery sneaker and so I reached further, deeper into what felt like a great abyss.
There it was, the shock of my morning, of my week, my month and even my year.
I couldn’t figure it out at first and it took a few moments for my groggy, still waking-out-of-sleep mind to bring clarity. It felt as though a fog had replaced my thoughts and I was searching for my way out. But eventually, finally, the recognition came. Or so I thought.
Instead of more sneakers, more glitter and sparkles, more whatever I left to the wayside in the vault of my wardrobe, I felt fur. A selection of warm, fuzzy pelt in the dark corner. I jumped, whatever it was, it would need further inspection with light. Suddenly the fog had lifted and my mission was no longer to half sleep-walk my way downstairs for a drowsy breakfast. My mind had come to attention and there was purpose behind my thoughts.
A rodent? Some kind of forgotten fur… but then why was it warm? What was it?
I couldn’t find out alone. Facing the matter with reinforcements, a lamp and a lone shoe, I decided it was time to see what was really going on behind a facade of clothes; literally. Moments later my heart melted at the sight, our cat had kittens and there they lay piled on top of each other and a small mound of worn shirts in the corner of my closet.
Though a few weeks later, we were only allowed to keep one of them (believe me, my teary eyes begged for more), it was the beginning of a new kind of bond with my new found pet… born in my room, my closet.
It’s amazing the bond our little ones can develop with their furrier friends, and capturing it can be a tough job! Especially when you’ve got an excited little babe in the mix. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be impossible.
Because of my partnership with Gerber, my little one is ineligible to win the Gerber Photo Search or a weekly prize, but you may be eligible so make sure you submit a photo of your baby and/or pet! Details on the contest are at the end of this post, and official rules can be found here.
Keep on Reading for our 5 Tips for the Best Kid + Pet Photos!
Leave the Pressure Behind.
We all want to capture those perfect shots of our kiddos and our pets, but lets be honest the pursuit of perfection when it comes to littles can be overrated and usually comes with a lot of tears and tantrums. I know we all want to get the best shot and the average adult requires direction and posing when they are in front of a camera, but I’ve found the best shots of animals and kids usually come when they are unaware that the picture is being taken. Taking the pressure off of them and yourself, by going into the shoot with the attitude that you are going to capture their true selves, whatever they are feeling in that moment. They may not be perfect in that moment, but looking back on them 10-20yrs from now it won’t matter if they are a perfectly posed smiles or a complete crying fit, they will bring you joy because they will take you back to that time in their lives and of their growing and ever changing personalities.
Add in Snacks.
This tip may be the simplest of tips but it is also one of the best, what it comes down to is this; full bellies equal happy kiddos and pets. Most parents have learned this through time and practice, but for those out there that might not be as experienced, this one tip will make all the difference. Have snacks on hand that your little one or pet likes. You can use them throughout the shoot or as an incentive to finish your shoot on a happy note.
Speaking of snacks, we typically make a run to Target, oh I don’t know… way too often! While there though, I like to stock up on items we need and use. Aria is a huge fan of treats she can hold in her hand and Gerber® Lil’ Crunchies are just that… the perfect size for her to hold, but in a meltable texture that dissolves easily. Plus it gives 5 grams of whole grain per serving and 20% Daily Value of Vitamin E for Crawlers per serving. I also recently brought home a bag of Purina® ONE® Cat Tender Selects Salmon and our cats went crazy… the loved it! With zero fillers and real meat rich in protein, I’m happy to give it to them and happy to know Purina also has a great variety of products available at Target to spoil our little pets.
Continuous Shot Mode Is Your BFF.
Kids and pets are always on the move, they rarely want to stay in one place for more than a few seconds. Getting a shot that isn’t blurred or doesn’t have closed eyes or weird facial expressions is not easy, that’s why I take advantage of the multi-shot function on my camera. My phone even has a burst setting so it allows multiple shots as well. There are beautiful moments in the midst of all their squirming movements, the continuous shot mode allows you to capture all of it.
Sometimes all you need to keep your kiddos happy or your pets engaged is what we photographers call a prop. Most of you momma’s would call it a toy. For kiddos it could be something as simple as a bracelet or a stuffed animal; and for pets it could be a ball or a feather and some string. Bringing in elements of play will give them something to focus on other than getting their picture taken, and that tiny distraction can be the key to getting an awesome shot.
We’re sharing a super simple cat toy DIY that both babes and our kitties love! Keep reading for the step by step tutorial below.
When it comes to shooting kids and pets I find that it is best to go into your shoot with a playful heart.
If you have an attitude of play and you give them freedom to run, jump, spin, dance, roll, hide, etc., they are naturally going to smile and laugh. That’s when you step back and watch with your camera at the ready, those beautiful crinkly smiles and huge belly laughs will happen organically and you’ll be there and ready to capture them.
To create a super simple cat toy that your little one can entertain the cats with (Aria will usually walk around the house holding and shaking this toy and the cats follow here everywhere!), just gather a few supplies!
- Dowel rod or stick
- Twine or string
- Feather or a fluffy alternative
- Hot glue gun
Did I mention this cat toy DIY is simple? It’s been some of the simplest entertainment in our house, that along with large shipping boxes! 🙂 Just cut your twine or string to size, tie to a few feathers or a fluffy alternative (we found this fluffy rope in the Dollar Spot at Target), and then tie the other end to a dowel rod or even a balloon stick! I used hot glue to keep the twine in place on the rod so it didn’t slide off. Voila! One of the simplest toys that can bring lasting entertainment, both for your tots and your cats.
You can get in on all the photo snapping fun with Gerber too, there are two amazing contests going on! Get your name in the mix by posting a photo of your sweet wee one on Instagram (must be a public account) using the hashtag #GerberPhotoSearch2017. Gerber.com will feature a dedicated promotional page, announce surprise and delight weekly contests, and share many of those precious photos of babies. One Grand Prize winner will receive $50,000 plus the title of 2018 Gerber baby. The photo(s) you post only needs to include your child. The search will be going on through 10/27, and you can enter up to 10 times.
If you feel like getting your family’s furry friend into the photo with your tiny tot together, share your photo with the hashtags #GerberPhotoSearch2017 and #GerberGigglesandWiggles and get your name in the pool to win one in six $500 cash prize pack, a 1 year supply of Gerber baby food (Have questions about Gerber baby food? Head to MyGerber.com to meet Dorothy, your on-call personal baby expert, or call anytime 24/7 at 1-800-284-9488), and a 1 year supply of Purina pet food! Promotion not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.
Want more info on the contest? Check out the official rules here. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) and Puerto Rico, who are 18 years of age or older, have a valid Instagram account and/or email address, and are parents of a child 48 months of age or younger and meet certain background check requirements. Enter search by: 11:59:59 pm ET on 10/27/17. For Official Rules, including eligibility and entry requirements, judging criteria and prize descriptions, visit www.Gerber.com/photosearch2017/rules. Void where prohibited.