Parents often say that time flies, and they don’t have the time to see their kids grow up. So what if you took the time? What if you took a photo of your son or daughter each day for a year, five years, or even 10 or 20? Imagine the effect you could get by creating a time lapse video with the thousands of images you took. Here our suggestions for pulling off the gift of a lifetime.
Since the advent of online video sharing platforms, dozens of time lapse videos have appeared on the web with titles like Filming baby a second a day for 12 months, Dad takes a picture with his son every day for 21 years and I took a picture of myself every day for 27 years. There are a multitude of examples with ever-more-original ideas, like He filmed his dogs running to their bowl every day for 9 months. Whatever the subject, the result is always outstanding.
What story would you like to tell? Over how much time? You might think that the most patient photographers would reap the biggest rewards in a project like this, but creativity and a good eye are also crucial. The first step is to get inspiration from videos online.
Equipment and settings
Don’t forget that this project requires action on a daily basis. The more consistent the shots, the better the final result. If you keep at it for a very long period of time, the equipment you’re using may become outdated or need to be replaced. It’s best to opt for a simple camera with a standard lens so that the photo quality doesn’t vary too much. Even a smartphone will do, as long as you make sure to always avail yourself of proper lighting. And don’t forget to use a tripod—it’s crucial if you want clean, consistent shots.
Use simple settings that are easy to reproduce to get a similar shot every time.
If you decide to start your project when your child is a newborn, don’t forget that he or she will grow... a lot! Frame your shot with enough space from the start so that you won’t have to readjust it too much later on. Your subject should always stay in the same position if possible. Babies should generally be shot from above while lying down. Think about how you will set up the photo two years later – will your child still fit in the frame if placed in the same position and the same spot?
Choose a neutral background that’s as bright as possible to make the subject stand out in the foreground.
Start with a simple calculation: A photo per day for a year makes for 365 photos, or one six-minute video if each photo appears for one second. But the final product will be even more stunning if the interval between each photo is shorter. In movies, 24 images are shown per second for a fluid result. At that speed, 365 images will make for just 15 seconds of video. It’s up to you to choose the right balance between the number of photos and the interval between each image.
There are a number of photo and video editing software programs available for a project like this. The most popular include LRTimelapse, Time Lapse Assembler and VirtualDub. Some are more complicated to use than others, but have more features. There are also smartphone apps such as Framelapse, Lapse It, Hyperlapse, PicPac Stop and Timelapse Pro, which offer a good range of features and are very user-friendly.