l love taking photos. Duh right?! But I get that
a) not everyone is as obsessive about it as me
b) sometimes it's hard to know what stuff to shoot
c) and how to shoot it
When you're doing big, fun things like visiting the beach, or hanging with friends or playing at the park it's more natural to whip your camera out. But the majority of our days are filled with those other moments, the ones which I wrote a little about here, which are just as special and in need of documenting. So here's a short guide to taking more photos of your kids doing the everyday stuff...
Note: 90% of the time, I shoot on an iPhone. In fact I have to push myself to shoot with my ‘big camera’ for personal work -you'll hear a lot of photographers say this. So when I'm talking here I'm mainly thinking of this as my camera (80% of this post was shot on an iPhone), but use whatever is easy for you. Easy is the key.
Shoot what you want to remember
Before I work with clients I send them a short questionnaire to prompt them into sharing what they are loving (or just living) in their everyday routines right now. These are great glimpses, and guide me for what to look for and capture when we're together. Also when something has become second nature to you (like the bedtime routine) it's easy to forget its significance in your days. Answers have ranged from 'the way she eats strawberries', to 'the way he gets lost in Lego play', to 'drawing at the kitchen table'. Here are some of my favourite things to document:
my kids sitting on the sofa together after a bath
the school run
my son reading in various places
the toddler ‘reading’ to herself
waking from naps
certain items of clothing/hairstyles/toothy gaps
Everything is a phase (repeat, repeat, repeat), and soon what is the regular will be a distatnt memory. Even those 792 meltdowns that seemed like they would never end. Once you have these moments in mind (think as basic as possible), make a note of them and hopefully it will prompt you to whip out your camera next time it happens. If you really want a push you could even set up a reminder on your phone.
Pretend you're not there
This is how I usually work no matter who I'm with; clients or my own family. Basically, THINK STEALTH. I never ask my kids to look at me and won't usually direct them in anyway. This allows them to get on with whatever it is they are doing, and an honest photograph. Also, this ends up being super quick - I'm usually crouched on the floor/standing on the other side of the room for a minute or two and we're done.
Forget about the photo
"Great advice Laura! That definitely fits in with all the other, oh hang on, what?" Ok so this is the opposite of the last tip but also a really lovely way to work, especially for certain kids who need a bit more *you*. There are times when my kids want me there, not creeping around them like a crazy stalker (although they are pretty used to that now to be fair) but I would also really like to capture what's happening. Sometimes, just hanging out and chatting, forgetting about the shot, will actually foster a moment later on when I can sneak my camera out. Most of the time they will be too immersed in conversation or play for them to even notice. And sometimes it is absolutely not the right time for a photo and I get over it. There's always tomorrow.
Change the angle
Angles are probably the biggest factor in what makes a photo good for me. We're used to whipping out our cameras where we're standing and snapping away, but just adding in one extra move before you click that shutter will make the photo that much more interesting. Try:
Getting on the floor
Getting above the action
Looking at it from their perspective.
Getting in close.
standing on the bed over them
Crop as you shoot
I never crop a photo after I've taken it. This is probably due to it being drilled into me as a photography student and learning on film which didn't lend to post processing adjustments. So, if you like the photo to be clean looking/you hate background clutter/something in the frame is annoying you - move it or yourself before you take the photo. If you crop afterwards, the photo loses a lot of quality which will make it look all the more shoddy when you decide to liberate it from your device. Which you definitely will. Because PRINT YOUR PHOTOS PEOPLE. This is also applicable to using a zoom in your camera - the quality detiorates so rapidly that moving yourself is much more effective.
Look for the light
Something you will always hear photographers banging on about - THE LIGHT! By light I also mean shade and darkness too, the whole spectrum. Notice where it falls in your house. There are times in the year/day when my house is flooded the most perfect light. May, from 6pm is golden hour. It's magic. When this happens, I take advantage. The light only really works in our bedroom, so I move story-time there. I throw them in the bed and let them go crazy. We read, they bounce, blow bubbles, chat. Now obviously this isn't as 'natural' as standing back and following them around, but sometimes you just want the pretty photo and I'm here to tell you there is nothing wrong with that. Plus as well as my kids and their cuteness, this magic light is also something I want to remember.
I edit in VSCOCAM. It's basically a slightly more sophisticated version of Instagram filters, which you can fine tune along with a whole host of other things (exposure/vignette/grain etc). Whatever you use to edit, this is where you can PLAY! Instagram has actually gotten much better with its editing features, and personally I prefer the lighter touch (using a filter at 50% for example) but do what you want. Creative licence guys! Things to try:
Filters at various strengths
Tilt shift - particualry nice on shots taken at a distance to add depth and add to their smallness
Exposure - try turning it down a few fractions
So there we go, a few tips to help you think a little differently when you next take photos at home. Let me know how you get on, and post any questions in the comments!