Have you ever noticed there are times when your children are especially sociable and chatty? They’re witty, they’re funny, they’re articulate and fairly well behaved? When those moments happen is when I pull out the video camera and interview Addie. I’ve done it since she was little tiny and could answer questions, and her answers have gotten even more profound over the years. Sometimes her answers are surprising (“What’s your favorite animal?” “A WEREWOLF!“), and sometimes they punch me in the heart (“What’s your favorite thing people can do?” “Play with me.“). I have a whole collection of little Addie interviews and someday I’ll be able to compile them all and watch her grow up in taste, opinion and maturity. But for now, a few tips on making your own video diaries of your kids.
- Keep the camera that you use consistent if you can. Not only will it make editing later on much easier, it will keep a consistent feel, quality and look to all of them. Not to mention it will be easier to keep track of them if they are all on the same card/camera.
- Make sure your child is well-lit. Face them towards a window so you can see the sparkle in their eyes and the sunlight on their freckles. If the only time you can record is at night, turn on every available light so there are no strange shadows or it’s not too dark. (So many of our old home movies are just too dark to see much of anything, bums me out.)
- Ask your child’s permission to film them. Don’t just whip out a camera and expect them to perform. If you’re consistent with the interviews and your child knows what to expect then they’ll know it won’t take too long and won’t be too hard.
- Have your questions ready. Some can be the same each time: “What’s your favorite food?” “What’s your favorite toy?” But switching it up and asking them about current events or their most favorite childhood memory (sounds funny to ask a 7-year-old what their favorite memory is, huh?) can shine a whole new light on what they remember or what is most important to them.
- Keep a schedule. Maybe you interview them every birthday, New Year’s, or at the beginning and end of the school year. Perhaps you do it every six months. What’s most important is that you do it, and if setting a particular day helps you remember, so be it.
- Announce the full date, child’s age and any important life events that may be going on at the time. You may think you’ll remember, but you won’t.
- Just do it. What’s most important, above lighting, camera consistency, and regularity, is that you do it. Just like with photography, it doesn’t matter how you get the perfect picture; it only matters that you take one.
In closing, here’s my first interview with Addie at about 22 months old. Oh my, how she’s changed.