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Like many parents, I try whenever possible to take advantage of the opportunity to snap a candid family photo to commemorate a fun time. The group selfies (is “usie” officially a thing yet?) are typically impromptu photos captured at the end of a family hike or other activity. With each child we added to our family, the logistics of these shots became increasingly challenging, leaving me longing for Inspector Gadget’s Go Go Gadget Arms (any fellow 1980s TV fans reading this?). I’ve occasionally employed the use of a selfie stick, but who wants to be beholden to having one of those on-hand at all times? Initially, I extended the reach of iPhone-captured images by propping my phone up with Apple headphones plugged in and using the volume up button on the headphone cord to trigger the camera shutter. This is a useful little hack when you’re in need of a quick and dirty way to take a picture using your phone from beyond your arm’s reach. Another approach I’ve tried after propping up the phone is the native timer feature on the iPhone, which shoots a burst of photos, enabling you to choose your favorite from among the bunch. Both of these options have served me well over the years, an example of which is below.

I’ve since expanded my repertoire, leveraging technology and gadgets I’m experimenting with. When I first got the Apple Watch, I wanted to ensure that I was making use of the functional value of the watch without allowing the watch to become an unhealthy distraction. I disabled the majority of the apps and notifications and focused on utilitarian features like text message notifications, workout tracking, and calendar alerts. Another feature I’ve come to rely upon, when the opportunity strikes, is the remote shutter control. From a functional standpoint, this approach is very similar to the timer option but gives you greater control, including the option to zoom in or out (not to mention skipping the rush to get into place while the timer ticks away).

The photo below is a perfect example of a time we used the remote shutter control on the way. This picture was taken in the parking lot of a youth sports complex (with the phone sitting on my car’s back bumper) to commemorate my son’s soccer team winning the conference championship. We didn’t need anything overly posed but wanted to remember the celebratory moment, in typical silly Cutler crew fashion. As you can see, I’m tapping the shutter control on my watch to snap the pic.

As you might have guessed by now, I’m a bit of a gadget geek and enjoy experimenting with new technology. To foster that hobby, I subscribe to service called Expese, which enables you to test gadgets on a trial basis before decided whether to continue with a rent-to-own program or return the gadget and try something new. One of the first devices I received from the service when I first signed up last summer was a GoPro, which was timed perfectly as we were about to visit family for a weeklong vacation. We had a blast using the waterproof GoPro to take pictures in the pool and lake, including some underwater shots, something we obviously wouldn’t have able to do normally with a phone.

I’ve also tested a series of different drones and love the having the ability to capture a scene from a different vantage point. The resulting aerial imagery can be truly stunning, especially when I’ve brought the drone with us on road trips through scenic mountainsides in the Southeast portion of the United States. See below for a few examples of drone pictures I’ve taken over the past few months.

 What I discovered, while the kids waved at the drone in the process of taking off and landing and asked to be on video, is that the drone makes it incredibly easy to take pictures with the whole family in the frame, certainly more so than my wingspan enables via conventional selfie. We now try to grab pictures of the family whenever we’re all together while using a drone. Sometimes that means the luxury a family photo featuring a scenic backdrop without requiring a photographer.

Do you have any favorite unconventional methods for snapping candid pics of your clan? I’m always game for trying something new. Please share any recommendations you have for me in the comments below and thanks for reading!