design matters | photographing kids' artwork

Our son, Ben, started preschool this week and already we have precious little items coming home with him: artwork, notes from his teacher, and a weekly summary of what's happening in class. Wow, that happened fast! While this school thing is totally new to us, I know parents who've gone before me have dealt for years with the sheer amount of finger paintings, turkeys made from hand-tracings, paper plate crafts and the like.

The struggle is real, friends.

So, what to do with it? One thing I've done in the past with little crafts Ben's brought home from Sunday school is to photograph them. I'm sharing a few different ways I do this. One is just laying the item on our kitchen table and taking an overhead shot. I wrote about this method in more detail HERE. Sometimes I photograph the entire thing, sometimes I let it drift out of frame, like this rainbow-sticker-cotton-ball-thingy.

I'm a big fan of hands in photos. Is that weird? Here's a shot I took of Ben holding a piece of art. Notice how my perspective leaning over him (using a step stool while he sat at the table) meant I got more in the frame than I wanted. No worries. A little crop leaves a clean image, which I would use in a Project Life album or photobook (I love this one over on Shutterfly).

Often, kids' artwork is meant to be interactive, like sock puppets or flip books. I like photographing the kiddo interacting with the object. In this case, I took a few shots of Ben playing with the thing he made, a little "I'm sorry" / "I forgive" face on a popsicle stick. Probably not going to be on display at LACMA anytime soon, but it was pretty cute to see him interacting with it.

I like repeating images, so I tend to use them a lot in our albums. When photographing kids' artwork, I'll take a few shots of the same thing and then use a couple side-by-side. I like the two below, because they show Ben checking out his own work on the left and then him just looking pretty cute and laughing on the right. It's all very scientific.

Here's another example of repetition, but here I took a wide shot and then one close-up of the artwork. I would use both in an album.

I hope you've found these ideas useful! We'll see how it goes as we deal with the onslaught of preschool crafts and artwork coming through our doors. I'd love to hear what you do with kids' artwork. Do you display it? Photograph it? Save it? Scan it? We're brand new to all this, so please share your favorite tips!