Life is in the details: 5 tips to capture your family life

We all know that a good photo holds the power to take us back in time. It lets us remember the things that inevitably get hazy in our minds. I think all parents can identify with this, and for us parents who move often, it can be hard to separate ‘here’ from ‘there’. Changes happen so quickly, it’s sometimes hard to keep track. 

Studies show that our feelings of happiness towards an experience grow with time. Photos serve to strengthen that memory. So, of course it makes sense to document all of the things that make up your life and your experience here and now. Both for us to share a bit of our lives with families and friends back home, and to be able to show our kids a bit of what made their childhood in Malaysia so special.

Documenting our lives through photography has never been easier. We live in an age where we snap photos of our meals to share with the world on social media. We snap just for the sake of snapping and often take thousands of photos that get lost in the digital cloud never to be looked at again. It can become tedious to comb through them to see what we really intended to capture.

Here are 5 simple tips to help document your life thoughtfully:

1. Slow down and take notice

What are the little things that define your life at the moment? The row of tiny flip flops outside your door? The annoying pool noodles that you always seem to trip over? The leaves of the same palm tree hanging out your window? The smile of the guards outside your home? The way your kid’s hair only curls in the humidity?

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Curls, only in Malaysia.

What are the big things? Friends that make up such a big part of your life? Or helpers that become part of the family and make up a big part of your children’s lives? The way you thoughtfully decorated the children’s room? Or that balcony that you drank your coffee on every morning? What does your home actually looks like? Often we forget to capture these things which seem obvious.

2. Think about how would you like to tell your story

How will you capture these details? Get high, get low. Get close, go far. Use an unconventional angle. Experiment. You should think of the lens as the eye of the viewer of the photo. Is the viewer peeking in on a scene? Are they down on the floor playing with your kids? Are they on the kitchen counter with you while you and your kids are baking?

Perspective is a big piece of telling the story and determining what the viewer sees. Spend some thought considering the elements of your daily life that you want to record and remember. While tempting, try not to only take cute photos of your kids in close up. Zoom out and take in the whole scene. The beautiful along with the mess. That is real life. That is what you don’t want to forget. Take photos with intention. Not just chance. 

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Kids room from above. A beautiful mess.
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Capturing the daily routine
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An unconventional angle can more your photos more interesting
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Zooming way in can help tell a story by capturing the details

3. Light can make or break a photo

Take notice of the light around you. In Malaysia, being so close to the equator, we often get short periods of soft lighting in the early mornings and late afternoon. Soft lighting is best to capture photos without too much shadow and the tones are nice and warm. Window light is your friend. The mid-day sun can be quite intense and can often blow out your photos. That said, it can also make for interesting shadows and when the clouds do come out, which they often do here, it is a blessing as it diffuses that harsh light and makes it nice and soft.

Backlit photos can create beautiful light, but create a silhouette on the subject. If you want the nicely lit up face, then face the light, or if you want half shadow, try standing beside the window. Play with different options to understand the results. Mastering lighting will make a big impact on your photos. 

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warm window light
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A cloudy afternoon

4. Practice,practice, practice

Keep you camera or phone handy. The best photo does not necessarily come from the best camera, it comes from the one that you have with you and that you know how to use. Many phone cameras have very powerful lenses and now many even have the ability to allow users to manually adjust some of the settings (exposure and aperture). Learn how to use what you have and practice, practice, practice. Photos below were taken on an iPhone:

5. Print your photos

Photo books, prints to frame, art prints. Get them off of your devices onto beautiful paper to look at, admire, share and reminisce about. There are so many printing options online these days. The biggest problem is gathering the photos you want to print. Printing is the step we most often overlook (myself included), but who doesn’t love to hold a beautiful moment of their lives?

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Photos are meant to be looked at

And finally, don’t forget to jump in there as well. Because, you were there too!

Patricia, Happy Go KL’s Cameramama is a professional lifestyle photographer based in KL. If you would like to book a session with her, she would love to help you document these moments to look back on and treasure for a lifetime. You can see her work at or on instagram @patriciakrivanekphoto.

Anyone who books a session before July 1st will receive a 20% discount by mentioning this Happy Go KL post.

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