My name is Melanie and I specialize in storytelling photography which documents and celebrates those real, unposed everyday moments. Capturing not only those big moments but the little ones that together tell the story of your family. I’m always impressed at the emotional range of children. They feel and react intensely. This can definitely be a challenge as a parent – dealing with a child who goes from being content one moment, to extremely distraught over the need for a band-aid for an invisible wound, and then suddenly heartbroken that you threw out a piece of a toast that was sitting on the table for 2 hours. All of this can happen in a span of a few minutes. There is also such beauty in this quality that children possess – a rawness and authenticity. Like anything else, it doesn’t last forever but thankfully, with cameras abound, we can preserve these little slices of personality.
There is so much more beyond the type of camera you use or the technical expertise you have that goes into making a great photograph. With all of this in mind, I’ve put together a few tips that I hope will help you as you document life with your family.
Try to see the beauty in routine and the simplicity of everyday moments. Sometimes we are waiting for a phase to pass because we are tired of reliving those same actions every day. Breakfast in our house comes very early most days and I mean early to the point where you feel you have lived an entire day before 9am. I find sometimes picking up my camera is what helps to get me to see these routines differently and to be in the moment. Let’s be honest, not every day will be one you want to remember. But, after a long difficult day, seeing pictures of your family can help to bring that joy back. The simplicity of those day to day moments is what we will miss yet we may be too distracted to capture.
Have a purpose
Keep in mind what or who your subject is and what you are trying to communicate. Use this idea to focus how you frame your photo (what details you keep in, what you exclude and where you place your subject). Think about what perspective and what lighting to use.
Back up, get down, get up, and everywhere in between.
Yes, close ups are great but they often don’t tell a story. Try backing up to include some context in the frame. Use the detail shots to round out the story. Don’t stay in one spot or stick to one angle. If you are taking photos of kids, get low and see things from that level. Experiment with perspective to keep things interesting and maybe discover something you didn’t see before. Capture both the big picture and the little details.
Wait for the moment
Try taking photos without asking everyone to look at the camera and smile. Don’t interrupt the moment. Observe. When people know a camera is on them, it can invite a lot of awkwardness and forced expressions. Wait for that moment when the action starts or when the expression is just right. It’s tempting to just keep shooting and hope for something great but you might end up with 62 photos that look essentially the same. Try to shoot with intention, keeping in mind again what or who your subject is.
Lighting, lighting, lighting
Lighting can completely change the mood of a photo. Experiment with different settings or metering for exposure from different points in your image. Try taking photos in different rooms and at different times of the day to see the results. Watch how light at different angles affects your subject. Compare your results using a flash versus relying on natural light alone. Understand lighting so that when that moment happens, you are ready for it.
Get in the picture
As parents, we often forget or opt not to get in the picture with our kids. You are a big part of the story! Stop making excuses to not include yourself because it is not just about you. Your kids will want to know what you looked like at different times in your life and will want to see that you were there. Whether you realize it or not, this is as important for you as it is for them. If, or maybe, when, your kids reach an age that they no longer want their picture taken with you, you will want to look back at those images. Things change, people grow up and leave us – photos are an important way to remember how things once were.
Print your photos
When was the last time you sent some photos to be printed? Somehow, despite the ability to take photos being so accessible now, we don’t have much to show for it if we aren’t connected to a device. As technology evolves, there is a good risk that all those photos on your devices could be lost if they aren’t backed up or, even better, printed. What if your phone is lost or stolen – there goes years of precious memories. It’s great to view photos on a screen and it makes sharing them so easy but take the time to have your favourite images printed. This can be really overwhelming when you have thousands of photos on many devices but it is worth it. Start slowly – set aside an hour or two a week and sort through some photos and get printing! As you take new photos, try to organize your favourite ones into folders or albums and print in batches every few months. There is something about having a tangible photo to look at and share that is so special for you and future generations. Take the time to do this! There are lots of companies out there and they make it easy. You can even have all your Instagram photos printed into books. Try it!
I hope this motivates you to take out your camera and to start experimenting to preserve those memories.