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The conversation behind the camera

handycam

Owen filming a family trip with our Sony Handycam

Kids love taking videos. I repeat: kids LOVE taking videos.

I can’t say I blame them. When I was a kid there was nothing I loved more than creating my own “movies” (only in my childhood, the camera was make-believe).

One summer I visited my aunt, who was the only person I knew at that time with a home video camera, for two weeks. I was the only kid in the house, but never got bored thanks to my amateur remake of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (somewhere in a box at her house, there is probably a very embarrassing video of 12-year-old Meagan acting out Jessica Rabbit’s “sexy lounge singer” scene.) (p.s. I’m not actually sure that movie was appropriate for me to watch at age 12.)

Ahem. Anyway, this is all to say that I truly do understand why we haven’t been able to wrench the Handycam out of my son Owen’s hands since we got it. And yes, he’s been capturing some great moments on film that otherwise might have been forgotten.

The only problem with a kid who never puts the videocamera down is that, after a while, you forget it’s there. Or maybe you just don’t realize it’s on and recording, because your kid is just casually holding it, not actually pointing at anything, and anyway, you’re making dinner/folding laundry/griping at an older kid about missing homework.

Which brings us to the point of this post: the memories you get from all those hours of footage aren’t limited to what happens in front of the camera, but also include what happens behind it.

I think you know what I mean. It seems every home video captures some little bit of surprise dialogue from the people behind the camera or those who unwittingly wander in front of it, yelling or jabbering or singing with no idea they’re being recorded. Or the casual discussion between the people behind the camera; relaxed and normal, not staged or posed.

I learn a lot about the way I interact with the kids when I listen to those casually-captured conversations going on behind the camera. Case in point: a recent video featuring our puppy, in which you can hear me saying “Clara…leave the dog ALONE…” over and over. It obviously didn’t work the first, second or third time, but I just kept saying it. You can also tell from the sound of my voice how distracted I was, just droning on and on without really paying attention to what was going on. Ouch.

But sometimes, I think I love that unscripted, unrehearsed, un-self-conscious dialogue the best. It’s something you can never capture in a photo: what people really sound like, what they really say, when they aren’t thinking about the camera. It’s not always flattering (actual audio from recent footage includes my exclaiming “Did you just fart on me ON PURPOSE?”) but it’s so, so real.

As a family, we put on our best faces in front of the camera. But what goes on behind it captures the true essence of the relationship between a mother and child, or two siblings. In my case, it can be both an important reminder about how I interact with my kids as well as a treasure trove of sounds: the banter of sweet little voices, loving murmurs and hilarious quips.

What do the conversations “behind the camera” say about your family?

A big thanks to Sony for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

Want to capture your own family memories on video? We’re giving away two Sony Handycams! To enter for a chance to win, simply comment on this post with an answer to the following question: what’s your favorite family memory?

Want a chance to win weekly prizes like a Sony Handycam or a $200 Disney shopping card? Enter to win here!

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