How to capture your child lost in imagination

We all know that children love boxes... sometimes even more than the item that came in them. I recently collected a bunch of boxes for my kids and set them loose with paint markers, masking tape and whatever else they could find in the yard. I was expecting to see three little "robots" walking around or maybe a bunch of new "airplanes."

However, as always, these kids surprised me.

Over the course of 3 days, they created an entire Box Village complete with back stories for their characters, different "home" boxes, a post office, a cave, and even a natural disaster.

Our Imagination - the best place for a child to get lost

When they're grown, I want them to remember what they loved as a child. They may not remember making a box village when they're older, but they'll definitely love seeing an example of their phonetic spelling or when they could actually fit entirely inside a small box.

Tips for capturing what it feels like to be a child

1. Get low

To see the world as a child does, you need to be at their level. So, really low... even lower. Get your camera down to their eye level or lower to see things as they do. The trees are much higher from there. The grass looks much more like a forest or a meadow when you're only 3 1/2 feet tall.

A pretty documentary photo of a girl sitting in a box during beautiful golden hour light. Taken by Erica Faith Photography in Claremont, CA

2. Capture the Details

Is your 1st grader still learning to spell? Be sure to get a photo of his homemade sign with all the mis-spellings. Capture shots of their drawings or little displays. And, of course their tiny pudgy fingers.

Learn how to get photos of your kids' imaginative childhood by Erica Faith Walker in Claremont, CA
Erica Faith Walker in Claremont, CA captures documentary photos and detail shots of imaginative play among children
A collage of pretty documentary photos of children playing with boxes and using their imaginations by Erica Faith Photography in Claremont, CA

3. Get the wide shots

Be sure to step back to see your kids' entire scene. Back up enough to capture the entire "box village." If there are other distracting elements nearby (like your neighbor's car or a cluttered garage), keep moving sideways or even up and down until those are behind something or out of the frame. If you have a dslr or other "big" camera, you can also adjust your aperture to "blur" out those distractions.

A documentary collage of photos of a boy and girl playing in boxes in Claremont, CA by Erica Faith Walker
Erica Faith Walker takes a golden hour photo of a boy playing with a box in Claremont, CA.
Erica Faith Walker captured a documentary photo of a boy at play in Claremont, CA.

4. It's Your Turn!

It's time now to capture your kids in their own make-believe worlds. Get out your camera and get going.