‘Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving... it remembers the little things, long after you have forgotten’
~ Aaron Siskind
If you did our spring bootcamp last year, you may remember this lesson but I decided to repeat it in this course, because I think it's something that we often forget to capture.
We are so focused on capturing the child, and what they are doing and how they look, we forget about making sure we have images of our children with the people who love them and who they love. I was reminded of this recently by a heartbreaking event in our community and decided It was the right thing to add here.
It might not always take a literal village to raise a child, but it certainly does take a few people to make him or her happy. From the moment they’re born, your child begins a whole series of relationships with their siblings, close and extended family, with your friends and as they grow a bit older – friends of their own. That part of their life – images of your child being cared for, adored, played with and being entertained by someone in your close circle make as much of a part of your child’s story as anything else they experience along the way.
We have a few tips for you on how to do it well and I divided them into 2 sections – capturing children with adults and capturing siblings together because the approach you might want to take with them, may need to be a bit different.
Capturing children with adults
1. Get real:
Try capturing real moments and relationships between people – they don’t have to look at the camera – an adoring gaze by the grandparent looking at their first grandchild will make a memory that will tug on your heartstrings for a long time afterwards.
Focus on the interaction and try capturing both the details – like grandma’s hand clasped by the tiny baby fingers, or dad wearing all your child’s best bling for a teddy bear tea party, as well as a bigger picture to show what was happening.
The fly-on-the-wall approach helps eliminate the awkward family portraits where people just face the camera square on with a strange grin, standing in a straight line. You low which ones I mean. I bet you have them too ( I do).
And I know that sometimes people just freeze when the camera arrives or just expect for everything to stop while the photo is being taken, My advice is – don’t fake – instigate. Don’t tell your child – and now smile at ‘grandma’. Tell grandma to play a game of tickles or Chinese whispers or a guessing game and capture the interaction as it unfolds. Real smiles and belly laughs will always win over the pretty fake ones.
2. Physical closeness is key
Physical closeness is key – and I mean that in the most literal sense. All us adults, we have a greater or smaller, but ever present sense of personal space. We don;t like people getting in that space, even if they are our loved ones. But in photos, all of that space is exaggerated and what may have looked like a totally normal few inch gap between two adults in real life, looks like a meaningful empty space in the photo. So bring them together, touching each other, closer than they would normally be.
If photographing the baby with more than one person, try to position the baby between the adults, rather than to the side, preferably with as little open space between them as possible and with that space being visually closed off ( their heads close together)
Get those heads close:
If you have influence on the composition, try to get people’s heads close together for a portrait. Especially when people hold newborns or young babies, they tend to hold them on their chest, or in the crook of their arms, which places the baby’s head a lot lower then theirs. But as viewers of photos, we are conditioned to look from one face to another in a picture – we know those are the important bits – and if they’re far apart, our eyes ping from one to another across the frame like a ball in a ping-ball machine( remember those?). It’s fine when there is something going on, some sort of interaction in the picture, but if everyone is just looking at the camera, it’s just underwhelming.
Power of the hand
it’s amazing how little our brain sometimes needs to interpret intimacy – just a touch of the hand, captured on camera will speak louder of the relationship between two people than anything else
Eyes will take you places
Have you ever noticed how when you look at a photo of someone looking at something, your eyes subconsciously follow the line of their sight towards whatever it is they’re looking at? It’s as if we see an actual line drawn on the picture. Use it to your advantage.
Capturing children together
This is a bug-bear of mine, so I apologise for the rant in advance:
Don’t tell them to kiss
Please, please, please – don’t be tempted to ‘create’ closeness – don’t tell your children to give each other a kiss, or hold hands or similar. You want to capture the relationship, not ‘fake’ it.
And I know what you’re thinking – you do know that they are close enough to display the affection in that way, they just wouldn’t think of it. Or maybe they did, spontaneously on another occasion, but you just didn’t catch it. That may very well be true, but even if the affection is real, the way it’s expressed may not be ‘theirs’. Or they may not feel comfortable with it in a few years when they look back on those. Children express love in a hundred different ways and as parents we speak that language – it could be reluctantly sharing their beloved transformer or cuddling up for a shared TV watching. Capture this!
Don’t fake – instigate!
It doesn’t mean you can’t create opportunities for them expressing affection and closeness. If you suggest everybody pile onto Mum and Dad’s bed, there will be cuddles and there will be closeness.
If you challenge them to gang-up together against you or their other parent in some game, you’ll be able to capture them working together better than if you told them to ‘do something with one another’.
If you want to capture older siblings interacting with a young baby, you could suggest they try and catch the baby’s attention by making funny noises, pulling faces, or mimic their facial expressions.
Look for the quiet moments too. Children tend to gravitate to one another even if they’re not doing the same thing, they tend to be in each other’s space. Don’t ask them to look at you, don’t interrupt. Just capture.
And whatever you do, do not say cheese!! Oh, and don’t expect for all of them to be looking in the same direction at the same time
Important difference for today's task! I know that weekdays are hard for getting family together and then capturing those moments well. So for this task, as well as any catch up from the week, you have until Sunday 7pm to post them.
The lucky winner of our blind draw will be picked at 9pm on Sunday from among all those who will have submitted correctly tagged ( #dayone, #daytwo etc) entries for each task of the bootcamp by 7pm on Sunday.
Your lesson 5 challenge is to focus on your family, the connections and interactions. Capture your partner with your child(ren). If you’ve got some extended family around you today – try getting them involved. If you have more than one child – get them playing and interacting together and capture how they are with each other.
This is our final challenge, make it a strong one!
Not quite! There will be one last bonus lesson coming tomorrow!! No extra task with that one but you should find it very useful as it covers some of the issues you guys were having with focus and sharpmess.
And of course, now that you've seen how much you can learn with us, even in a short space of time, have a closer look at our full, proper course starting shortly. And there is an awesome offer on those for you coming tomorrow - if you're quick!
YOU NEED US – 5 REASONS WHY:
If you have a camera...
but you don't know how to use it and only ever stick it on auto, if you've tried reading the manual but it put you to sleep, if you just don't know how to make the damened thing do what you want it to do - you need us. Don't let all the buttons and dials intimidate you - we can help.
If you have a million snapshots...
but few images that capture something real, something touching, something that's worth putting in a frame - you need us. You saw what a difference applying a few simple composition principles made to your photos - imagine, if we were to actually teach you about how to use your light, your camera settings and more composition to capture genuine emotions, your children at their most real and natural,
If you see the magic...
but your photos fail to capture the same thing. You know it's possible, because you see it in other people's photos, but just don't know how to get there. You keep trying to improve, and keep learning on your own, but it's hard to judge what's going wrong - you need us. Specific, personal, photo by photo feedback in video form from us will pinpoint the exact things that need improving and changing.
If your worry about missing the important milestones...
because we don't get a doover with the first time they walk or kiss their nan, or have their first ice cream, and you want to make sure you capture them well - you need us. We'll show you how to photograph their little tiny fingers and toes, how to capture your little speed rockets SHARP when they get their legs, or how to get that awesome first birthday cake with candles
If you want to be a part of an awesome community of like minded parents...
YOU NEED US! Our Student and Alumni community on Facebook is creative, active, supoortive, friendly and always, always inspirational! They make my day with awesome photos every day. Our students stay with us for years after completing our courses and they keep learning with us and honing their photo skills, meeting up for photo practice in real life and supporting each other online. We've seen friendships and even business partnerships blossom out of that group, This is one group you definitely want to be a part of.
We can do all those things AND MORE! Keep your eyes peeled for tomorrow's post!