How to document your family | Being Intentional

be intentional

Being Intentional

Take a minute and image the year 2049. Your kids are visiting for the weekend and you are hanging out talking about when they were younger.

PAUSE … How do you picture this moment?

Are you sitting on the couch looking at albums? Are you scrolling social media? Are you digging through old hard drives? How are you re-living 2019 thirty years from now.

Looking into the future helps us be intentional about how we want to live and document TODAY. So how do we simplify those thousands of pictures sitting on our hard drive and start being more intentional. Here are my three rules for being intentional about documenting our families.

have a plan

Rule #1: Have a Plan

You should have a two part plan. Part one should be a plan for what you want to do with your pictures and part two is how you are going to capture those pictures.

What to do with your pictures?

Most people don’t think about this until after they take a picture. This causes us to be overwhelmed by too many pictures, indecision and ultimately the reason most pictures never make it off our hard drives and phones.

How are you going to capture those pictures?

Knowing what you want to do with your pictures helps you be intentional with how and what you capture. There is a common term in the photography industry called “spray and pray.” This became more prominent in the digital days when photographers would take thousands of pictures in hopes that a few might turn out okay. No planning, preparation or care went into their work. They would occasionally get lucky and have a really great picture but they sacrificed quality for quantity.

A little planning goes a long ways and it produces better results and allows you to spend less time behind the camera. Leading to our next point.

how to document your family

Rule #2: Be present in the moment

We need to make the memories first before we can preserve them. What is the point of working so hard to take the perfect picture if it’s sacrificing valuable time with our family.

photography class

Rule #3: Keep it Simple

When coming up with a plan make sure it’s simple and something you can maintain. You don’t want it to be a financial burden to your family. You also don’t want it to take up so much of your time that you can’t keep up with it.

Lander WY Pump Track

My Plan

Now that you know my three rules for being intentional it’s time to put it into practice. Here is my plan and what works for me. Take these ideas and adapt them to your specific needs.

Phone pictures

This is the camera I have with me most so it often captures those unexpected moments. I print my phone pictures using Chatbooks. This is a simple way for me to add a date, location and caption to my favorite pictures. I narrow them down and on average fill a 60 page book every 6-8 weeks. They are inexpensive and easy to maintain. I’ve been using Chatbooks for three years {that’s a great track record for me}. When I first started I was able to go back and print several years worth of phone pictures and they automatically shipped three each month so it didn’t break the bank while I was trying to catch up.

DSLR pictures

I only pull out my DSLR on special occasions. Maybe 2-3 times a month depending on what we have going on. I take it on most vacations but I’m selective about when I pull it out. Throughout the year I compile my best pictures that tell a story and trigger memories. At the end of the year I print them in a high quality album. I use my professional lab but you could try printing with Artifact Uprising.


Every once in a while I get a picture that I consider the best of the best. It’s one that triggers lots of memories and emotions. These are the pictures I like to put on my walls.

Now that I know what I want to do with my pictures I can plan ahead. I have my phone with me 90% of the time so I’m ready for the unexpected moments. When we have something special we are doing as a family I take my DSLR. For every special moment or event I try to take at least one picture that will trigger lots of memories. Notice my goal is ONE picture. If I get more great but really I just need ONE.

This plan is simple for me. It’s easy to maintain and it allows me to still be present with my family.


Find a picture that triggers lots of memories. Not just about that day or that moment but memories that go beyond what the picture captured. Post it to Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #thecharlsiechallenge. I would love to see your posts. If you have a private account on Facebook you can also email me at

Hylite Reservoir

This is my challenge picture. It reminds me of our fun road trip through Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. We spent the night camping near Bozeman MT. Our jeep was loaded with bikes, backpacking gear, camping gear, 4 people and a dog. The back driver side door didn’t open from the outside. That’s why Canon is trying to get in the front. Brad has had this Jeep since undergrad. It miraculously got us through medical school and residency. The jeep doesn’t have AC so Brad built us a redneck AC using a cooler and fan. It worked but it also spilt out on my lap when the ice melted to water.

How to Document Your Family Series

Part 1: Being Intentional

Part 2: DSLR vs Phone

Part 3: How to Organize Digital Files | Coming May 2019 Subscribe to my email

Contact Me


  1. How to Document your family | Phone vs DSLR | Charlsie Oliverson Photography

    April 2nd, 2019 at 4:23 am

    […] user error. We take too many pictures and we don’t have a plan for what to do with them. See Lesson 1 to start fixing […]