5 things I do to photograph my everyday
It's no secret, photography is my life blood. Even when it was just a hobby, it was more than a hobby. It was part of what defined me. Photography has always the place where I knew myself, where I was the most confident and at peace.
Before I started photographing families at arguably one of the most important times in their lives (when the kids are still kids and everything is new and fresh!), I was documenting my own family at the most important time in our lives.
Like a lot of photographers, I really started getting "serious" about photography after my first child was born. A lot of things change for a woman when she makes a human and for me, one of those things was preserving our story.
I know I throw around the words "story" and "storytelling" a lot. It's more than a trendy term to me. It is my legacy. You see I currently have 15 photo albums stuffed with photos starting on June 22, 2013, the day Henry was born. Back in storage I have boxes of photos from when I was in the army, the time my husband and I traveled Asia, our wedding, high school, college, my own childhood, family vacations with my cousins, and even photos of my dad when he was a kid. Photos have always been considered treasure to me. It wasn't until about 2 years ago I realized how I wanted to honor my photographs.
So I take photos everyday. Ev. Ry. Day. Yes part of that is because of my 365 photo project. But also because I see the value and the beauty in our everyday.
The big moments are easy to document. There's beautiful scenery and fun events! But there is a subtle beauty in the everyday that shows us just a little bit more of who we are, rather than just what we are doing.
To help you out, here are the 5 things I do to help me photograph my everyday that you can start doing today!
I keep my camera handy and ready to shoot.
If you're using your cell phone, have it out on the counter. Know where it is. It's small enough to keep in your pocket! Cell Phone cameras are typically always ready to go as you don't have to mess with settings.
If you are shooting with a DSLR, keep it out on the counter or the table. Keep it where all the action happens! (But also out of the reach of people with sticky hands!) Make sure you have a SD card loaded and your battery has juice in it. I keep mine on the kitchen counter when we are at home. My purse is also big enough that I can toss it (gently!) in it when we leave to go out. I keep it safe in a camera coat which protects my camera without adding extra bulk. (Seriously, it's the best! This isn't an affiliate link btw.)
Having your camera easily accessible and ready to go is critical.
I even take it to the store sometimes. The wine aisle makes a great shooting location! (hello color and leading lines!)
I know my light.
I know when and where the light comes into my house at different times of the day. I know what rooms get the best light and I know what adjustments I need to make with windows or lamps to get the best light throughout the house.
Pay attention to the sun as it enters your house throughout the day, especially in areas that the most activity happens in. It will help you better understand how to leverage it for pretty photos. Because natural light is best for photography, this knowledge is power! It is an easy way to make a good photo awesome!
With the knowledge of light, I can easily predict my camera settings and get to the shooting part more quickly. I also can estimate my settings ahead of time so that I can get there as quickly as possible.
Inside the house, my ISO is at a minimum of 500 no matter what time of day. When I know I will be taking photos inside, I go ahead and adjust this so I don't have to worry about it later. When I head outside, I turn the ISO down to 100.
Knowing your light leads to...
I encourage activities in certain locations.
Yes, sometimes I am that mom that tells the kids to move over by a window with the playdoh so I can take a picture. No shame here!
If the morning light is particularly pretty in your kitchen in the morning, suggest to the kids that they help you with breakfast or that they play cars on the floor while you make coffee. For us, the most beautiful light is in the bathroom. Sometimes we take baths in the middle of the afternoon because the light is so pretty! I set up the kids' play area next to the two biggest windows in the family room. Now it is always drenched in dreamy sunny goodness! And it's no accident that the sidewalk our kids ride their scooter up and down on after dinner is bathed in filtered golden hour light with the large oak trees as a backdrop. #sorrynotsorry
I let my kids get involved in the picture taking.
Call it outsourcing. Call it laziness. I like to call it encouraging creativity! But I let my kids get involved with the photography. I'm always subjecting them to standing in certain places when they don't want to so when you return the power to them they are more willing to participate! #kidpsychology101
My kids love the disposable cameras, They don't provide the instant gratification of digital photography, but they are fun to wind up and it's exciting to hear the flash charge up and count down the number of frames left! Then we drop them off at a 1-Hour develop place and go get lunch and ice cream. When we pick them up, it's fun to look through the prints and pick the ones that will go on the fridge!
But they love the iPhone the best. It's easy to use and they get to see their photos right away! And my daughter loves the selfie stick. Here comes Generation Alpha, guys! They are tech savvy, like the immediate feedback and it's also fire and forget. So don't let them forget! Save those photos and then GET THEM OFF THE PHONE! Print those bad boys out. Maybe they will turn into a world famous photographer and you can show them the first photos they ever took!
If you're feeling brave and if they are strong enough, let them use your DSLR. If your kids are older and are interested, teach them the photography basics! It might end up as a hobby you can share together.
I motivate myself with a 365 photo project.
So this one is kind of a big deal. I've challenged myself to take a photo a day, every day, for an entire year. It can be exhausting, ya'll! But it is also fun. And as a photographer it gets my creative juices flowing!
But most of all it reminds me to pick up a camera. Any camera. Or to ask my husband to take pictures when he's out with the kids and doing something fun. Or asking my friend who snapped a pic of us to text it to me.
At the core, everyday photography is not about the discipline of photography. It's not about perfectly Photoshopped, epic and dramatic landscaped backdrops, with perfectly happy and cooperating children.
It's about temper tantrums, melted ice cream, family walks, trips to the store, birthday parties, bedtime snuggles, tiny acts of kindness, first days, last days, good-byes and hellos, making messes and making moments. Moments are memories that define us. They are the memories that reveal genuine emotion and show us our lives in that tiny sliver of time.
And don't you want to capture all of it? And preserve it for the next generation? Your kids will want to see photos of the time they helped make dad's birthday cake. Or that playdate with a new neighbor who became a best friend. They will want to see how fun it was riding scooters on the sidewalk and how messy they were with an ice cream cone!
Big family vacations and events are "easy" to remember. There's usually big emotions attached to them. But the little emotions can get jumbled in the memory. Every day kindness and even frustration gets mixed into general emotions. But a simple photograph of a picnic or of bed time stories can bring back a sense of nostalgia, of core values being reinforced.
It's the little things. And it's the little things that everyday photography can bring to your family's photographic legacy.