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Taking pictures of your children need not be torture. And, it need not cost a lot of money or time. All it takes is a little patience, and a lot of love.

First of all, you don't need a flashy or expensive camera. A polaroid camera can be just fine, as can a 35 millimeter, or even a 110 camera. The key is to use the right type of film for your camera. If you opt for a 35 millimeter, I suggest a film speed of at least 200. 400 can be used for outdoor pictures with very good results.

Once you have your camera, your film, and most importantly, your children, you are ready to begin. The best snapshots are not the posed ones that you can get from any department store or school. The best snapshots are those that are natural and spontaneous. These are the ones that let your child's personality shine through. These are the ones that friends and family will treasure for years to come.

Don't be unwilling to take pictures of your kids when they are dirty, or covered in food, or if you feel they are a mess. These are the pictures that show just who your child is. For example, don't be afraid to let your child smile if he or she has lost baby teeth. Too many mothers think it's not attractive or natural, and they make their children smile with their mouths closed. This looks fake and unnatural. One day, you will treasure those gap-toothed smiles!

Also, don't be afraid to hide from your children so that they don't know they are being photographed. Children often get self-conscious when they are being photographed. Hiding and taking pictures of them when they aren't looking for you or expecting you means that you get natural pictures that show what is really going on in their lives.

Don't be afraid to have your camera ready at all times. How many times have you said, "Oh, if I only had a camera, I could have taken Susy's picture when she did ____?" The cameras of today are not exceptionally bulky or cumbersome. They can fit almost anywhere. Plus, you never know when that magic moment will happen and you will have an incredible treasure.

These simple steps can assure that you get many wonderful photographs of your children. Children are a treasure and as they grow up, having these natural, spontaneous moments of their lives captured on film will be treasured by friends and family alike.