Creating Memories through Film with Elizabeth Alison

Growing up my siblings and I loved pulling out the old photo albums with plastic covered pages my mother had made for us. But even more than those we loved the old home movies with shaky film clips of us riding fair rides and opening Christmas presents. Now that I have my own children I’ve always felt one of the most precious gifts I can give them (and me) is capturing these memories for them.

I’m a photographer and a mom so yes my phone is perpetually short on photo memory space— but the other thing I love doing is creating films for my boys. I want them to be able to look back like I did and remember a little more clearly what an afternoon picking apples together in the fall was like. How we cut down our Christmas tree every year at the same tree farm. That summer trips to the Oregon coast were absolute magic for us and for them.

Thing is, it can be a handful trying to juggle life with your kids and documenting it even with pictures let alone videos too. So I wanted to share some tips that I’ve learned over the years documenting our family.

First, Shoot what you can.

When you’re doing something together as a family it can get hectic so don’t worry about planning out your entire video right then. Just capture what you can and what’s real in the moment. DSLR or iPhone it doesn’t matter. Take long clips that you can go back through later and find the useable portions in. If something cute happened and you didn’t happen to be filming don’t worry about it. Documenting is wonderful and definitely a gift but it’s not the point of whatever you’re doing. Give yourself the freedom to put the camera down when you want to.  

Second, Embrace the imperfect.

This is a similar tip but also don’t stress about getting perfect shots in the moment. And realistically it’s just it’s not possible with a two year old ask me now I know. Film Anyway. Take shaky footage. Take footage of you talking in a mom voice to get the baby to smile. You can always mute the sound or trim the bad footage out later. Or maybe you won’t actually want to and you can all laugh about it together. The point is the time together not perfection.

Third, Get everyone involved.

Tell your family when and why you’re creating a video and then work on it together. My husband isn’t a photographer at all but after seeing the first few videos I’ve made he loves them so much he likes to help get footage now. Tell your kids you’re making a movie and let them do funny things while your film or come up with ideas themselves. Make it a family thing you’re doing together rather then kids getting annoyed because mom’s filming again kind of thing. ;)

And finally, this might be the hardest but get some shots with you in the frame. This might mean enlisting your husband (or seven year old) to film or even just setting the camera on a table to record and jumping in the frame. It will feel staged and awkward and you should still do it. Ten years down the road it will mean so much for them to see you there too loving them and it will be worth the awkward.

Editing

  • There are a hundred differ editing programs and apps out there, some of them with fancier capabilities, but for the basics of what you need I recommend iMovie or the Filmm app for phones. I use both to cut together my videos.
  • Once you have all the footage I suggest picking the music you’d like to use first. I typically just use favorite songs that I’d like to share with my kids/fit the mood. Keep in mind though if you want to share on social media the popular music can get claimed for copyright.
  • Next I would start playing through your footage looking for moments that tell the story. Keep things short and sweet. You might have a 30 second clip of your baby eating apples but just the best 4 seconds of it will be enough for what you need.
  • Once you’ve picked out all your favorite moments then you can started putting them in whatever order you’d like. This is where you can be artistic if you’re into that kind of thing for example I like to listen to the the way the music is moving and try to match clips with it. Or you can just arrange your clips chronologically and call it good — the effect will still be really special.
  • If you want to get fancy there are lots of tools to fix shaky video, crop, add slow motion, old film effects etc...  
  • But that stuff definitely isn’t necessary to make something your kids will treasure. They will love the bad camera angle and shaky footage because their mom captured it for them. And that’s what matters.

I hope this is helpful in giving you the tools to start creating. I’d love to see the videos if you share! Tag me @elizabethalison_  

And P.S. also highly recommend wearing as much Fin & Vince as possible. It makes collecting these moments about a hundred times cuter.