I am a firm believer that it’s the little things in life that we will someday treasure the most- watching your kids play, hanging out with the grandparents, going on afternoon walks with the family…These are all things that most of us do everyday that may seem like a boring routine, but to me they are windows into a life that will someday be gone.
In order to preserve the here and now I document our everyday using different techniques that tell a story. My goal with every picture I take is to transport me back to that time, to capture what our life is like right now.
1. Take pictures with your heart, not your head.
When I first started on my photography journey it was hard not to obsess over getting all the technical aspects of a photo correct. Once I grew comfortable with shooting in manual mode I started paying more attention to what I was feeling.
I became a seeker of emotion.
When you are photographing your family look for that fraction of a second to reveal something meaningful.
Something that moves you.
You’ll know when you see it, and when you do it press the shutter button. Training your eye for meaningful interactions not only makes you a better photographer, it will also make you appreciate your life in a whole new way. So next time you are taking photos be mindful of the photos you take and why.
Patience is a big part of documentary photography. Wait, find the moment and then be quick to the draw when the magic happens. Having your camera in reaching distance is always a good way to make sure you don’t miss anything.
2. Watch for interesting compositional elements to help tell the story or move your body to make one!
While taking photos of the kids playing with the hoses I tried moving my self in several different positions to get an interesting composition. You’d be surprised at how moving from one edge of the scene to the next can change the outcome of a photo in dramatic ways.
In the first of these photos I am ducking behind a rose bush to capture my son running through the water on his scooter. This does a couple of things, it creates that pretty pop of pink that frames the scene, it also creates the feeling of peeking in on all the activity, you can tell there’s no interaction between the kids and the camera.
In the second photo I am crouched way down with my camera inches from the ground. I noticed the pretty reflection the puddle was making so I bent way down to capture both the kids and the reflection in the water.
While taking photos of your kids make sure you move around and see what you can find, look for reflections, places to quietly observe, and change your point or view often by moving around the scene.
3. Don’t forget the details!
Don’t forget to capture the details that matter. For me this includes close ups of hands, feet and eyes, the details help tell the story in an intimate and special way. One day when your kids are grown you’ll want to remember the little things.
4. Have fun and experiment!
If you are comfortable shooting in manual mode, start to explore different and fun ways to capture your subjects.
For me this includes freelensing, double exposure and playing around with a slower shutter speed.
Freelesning (step by step how to HERE) is a technique where you remove the lens from the camera ever so slightly and gently rock lens in different directions until you get a sliver of the frame in focus. Freelensing gives your photos a dream-like feeling, some freelensed photos look more like an abstract painting than a photograph.
Double exposures can be done in-camera or in post-processing. A double exposure is two (or more!) pictures, one over the other. Look up your camera’s make and model to see how to create this effect.
Using a slower shutter speed can help to create a feeling of movement. Dropping your shutter speed to anything under 1/250th of a second can cause motion blur for a fast moving object. To further intensify this effect drop it lower to 1/30th of a second or even lower! You’ll start to see motion blur from the moving objects in the frame creating a cool effect.
I hope these tips have helped you!
Wherever your photography journey takes you, make sure that you have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. When you follow your heart and explore your creativity it will lead you to the most growth.
Hi I’m Katie Jennings, a documentary photographer and filmmaker living in Raleigh NC. My favorite things to photograph are the everyday things with my 3 kids. I also love capturing memories for other families through photography and short family films.
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