Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Bluff Point Hike

Monday, April 24th, 2017

During spring break we took the kids to Old Sturbridge Village, which is one of our favorite places. We only made it 45 minutes before Evan started complaining his feet hurt, and after 3 hours all the kids were D O N E with the walking and looking at stuff and waiting a whole 10 minutes for a carriage ride. It does not fill me with confidence that our trip to Disney World will go well.

(Have I told you we’re going to Disney World??? We’re going to Disney World! I am SO EXCITED.)

The kids don’t know we’re going yet. I’m not planning to tell them anytime soon. But I do need them to get used to walking, so I’m instituting the Disney Training Plan. Basically, that just means we’re spending a lot more time hiking and a lot less time watching Netflix between now and June.

But I’m not trying to make their lives miserable, I’m just trying to whip them into shape, so I’ve planned our hikes in places they will have fun. I need them to enjoy the walking now so they will REALLY enjoy the walking when it’s between rides and parades and restaurants in Florida. Our first training day involved a 3.5 mile hike around Bluff Point. I wore Finn, Evan and Caroline walked the whole way, and Linc did about half walking, half in the Tula on E’s back. We all survived!

He really wasn’t as annoyed as he looks in that last photo.

Everyone went to bed very early with no argument tonight. I think *I* am going to need the longest to recover, I haven’t hiked with a baby on my back since last spring and it’s a lot of work when you have a super chunk for an 8-month-old. Our next walk will be a nice short one around the neighborhood, then a longer hike again. I’ll let you know how the Disney Training Program worked out once I force them to walk 10 miles a day for four days. I figure if we all survive, that’s a success.

Related posts:

Wordless Wednesday: Gingery!
My Week(168) in iPhone Photos
Finnegan: 8 Months

My Photographic Eye

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

I read an incredibly interesting article the other day that analyzed the photos Melania Trump has posted publicly on her Twitter account.

(No this isn’t a political post. Yes, the article was pretty critical of Melania. Yes, I agreed with it. No, I don’t want to have a political discussion here.)

If you look beyond the actual subject of that post, the idea of learning how someone sees the world from how they capture it is fascinating. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a photographer, any time you stop long enough to take a picture you’re saying “This is how I see things, this is a moment I want to be preserved, this is my reality as I want it to be presented.” In this era of social media, photos are even more performative – you can crop or filter so your friends (or strangers) can see what you want them to see. You are making a lot of choices, whether they are conscious or not, and looking at those choices can be eye-opening.

Because I’ve been doing a 365 photo-a-day project for three years now, I have hundreds of everyday life photos to look at and analyze for patterns. Once I started thinking about my pictures (many of them not more than snapshots) as a body of work versus just individual photos, it became super clear that my photographic eye says a lot about what I value, what I want the world to see, and what I want to remember.

The most obvious fact about my photos is they are almost all of my children. I almost never photograph myself. I could make a list of my excuses for that, or I could look at it more analytically. My appearance in the photographic record isn’t a priority for me. I don’t want to remember what I looked like during these years. My body doesn’t need to take up space in the frame. It’s incredibly important to me that I witness my children’s lives, but not necessarily as a participant in their activities. This feels both sort of uncomfortable for me (I don’t want to be distant or emotionally separate) and accurate (I’m much more free-range than helicopter mom).  Also, from a practical standpoint, my live as a stay-at-home-mom revolves around my children, so obviously my work shows that.

The next pattern I saw right away is my love of capturing a small body in a big frame. I’ve chosen my equipment (mostly a 35mm lens) so I can focus on my subject while also including a lot of their environment.

When I think about how I framed these photos, I intentionally avoided other people in the frame (unless they were also my children) to make my subject stand out. I didn’t try to blur or compress the environment to the point where you couldn’t identify it – WHERE is an important part of the story. I took photos like these in every season, at home and away, with my subject aware of me and not. Children are small and the world is big. I want my kids to be confident and bold when faced with big things, unafraid of the world, so they remain the focus even though the environment could overpower them.

Another fairly obvious trend in my pictures is that I center my subjects.

 

There they are, right in the middle of the frame. The main focus. There is balance in this composition, and something very calming about a photo that tells you exactly what it’s about. It’s easy. When I think about these photos, I often took them during challenging times, when I didn’t have the energy to devote to seeing something artistic or unusual. Simplicity is something I often value.

Something I was actually surprised to see was my love of taking a photo from behind my subject. I think of my work as being full of faces, so I wasn’t expecting so many of these.

 

These photos are about seeing what my children see, looking at the world from their point of view. I often crouch down, sit on the floor, get low so I can capture their perspective. I want to learn about what catches their eye, what THEY view as important or noteworthy. I’m following along as they direct the show, ready to be supportive but not interferring. Without the emotion of their face, you have to infer feeling from their body language. When you’re raising kids, this feels true in everyday life as well; they often don’t – or can’t – tell you what they’re feeling, so you’re left to interpret what they need.

Something there is slightly less of but still often featured is taking photos of small pieces of my small people.

Fingers, toes, hair, eyes, hands. I love them. They are soft and unlined, a perfect example of how children are unbothered by the realities of life or age. The same way an elderly person’s hand speak to their lived experience, a child’s hands show innocence. Their eyes are clear and open, unguarded. They also are little pieces of where they come from – Caroline’s red hair comes from her father, Linc’s blue eyes are from me. These photos are more personal than any of the others. I do have to be physically close my children to take them, even if the small bodies are in motion and I have to be quick. They capture something so very fleeting – the split second before those feet grow bigger, run faster, carry the children away.

And finally, my neverending love of taking pictures of my kids while they sleep.

The sleeping photos fall into almost all of the previous categories – sometimes up close, sometimes lots of environment, etc – but I took them because of the sleeping so it deserved its own analysis. Children are loud and busy, capturing them at their most quiet and still is a treasure. While they are vulnerable, I watch over them. They feel safe in their home and with their family, which is why they so often fall asleep in places other than their own beds. Our home is comfortable, even if it’s not always magazine-worthy, with plenty of places to take a nap when you need it.

I really loved this exercise for myself, even if putting my emotions and inner thoughts into words was difficult. I appreciate my photographs more and I’m thrilled this record will exist (as a reminder, print your photos! I have both 2015 and 2016 books as hard copies of many of these, the rest are from 2017 and will go in a book in January).

Are there any trends you can recognize in your own photographic record? Go look at your Instagram feed or Facebook photos and see if there are patterns or constants that emerge. Or you can take some of this analysis and use it to inspire your own pictures. I’m definitely going to make an effort to take at least one self-portrait this spring.

Related posts:

Have you heard about Pinterest?
5 Tips For Taking Newborn Photos Yourself
Our First Disney Trip: Planning

Photography: Making The Most of a Convenient Location

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

I wanted to take some photos of Caroline in her new princess dress last week, but it was dinner time and Multicultural Night at school so my timeframe for this magical photo shoot was about 7 minutes. I live on a teeny tiny lot in a city neighborhood, so meadows and forests are in short supply. We do have an empty lot across the street, but most of it has been turned into a community garden (the vegetable kind) by a church.

But the weather was warm-ish and the sun was shining and my model was cooperative, so we popped across the street to borrow their grass, figuring we would just be making the most of a convenient location.

And we found a beautiful field of crocuses!

But it wasn’t actually that magical. It was just a little square of flowers between a driveway, a dead spot, and the church’s mulch pile. Here’s the cell phone pullback shot of Caroline in the same location:

 

There are several tricks you can use to maximize a less-than-ideal location if it’s all you have to work with. I knew when we went out to shoot I would be trying to disguise the background so I choose my 85mm f/1.8 lens, which is a medium length and is good at separating the subject from their surroundings. Once we found the flowers I decided to shoot at about f/2.2 or f/2.8 so I could include a good slice of the photo in focus – I wanted to be able to get Caroline’s whole profile in focus instead of just her eyelashes, or her whole body as opposed to just a sleeve.

Here are 5 more pieces of advice to help turn a bad spot into a good spot:

  1. Light! The sun is starting to go down and partially blocked by some of those trees, which means a great glowy kind of backlight instead of harsh overhead shadows. If the sun had been coming from the opposite direction I would have shot the other way (which would have been unfortunate, because there’s pavement the other way).
  2. Work your angles. I took a lot of these photos from overhead with Caroline crouching down, which includes a lot more grass/flowers and a lot less background. You can also get super low yourself, and shoot straight across the ground – you’ll end up with fewer distracting background elements.
  3. Get close. Fill the frame with your subject instead of trying to get too much of the environment. Yes I wanted to capture the crocuses, but having her hold them or shooting the flowers on their own is a good option.
  4. Horizontal vs vertical can be your friend. I shoot horizontally 90% of the time, but in this location I didn’t have a lot of space to work with. To create some variety in my shots, I took a series of photos vertically. Sure, she was standing almost next to a dirt pile, but because the photo is narrow you can’t see it.
  5. Don’t say cheese. Almost none of these photos have Caroline looking at the camera. Instead, you’re looking at what she’s looking at – her hands, the flowers in front of her, etc. Let your subject guide the viewers eye into the foreground instead of the background.

 

If this was a client shoot instead of just a fun session for Caroline, I would have taken the extra step in  post-processing and fully removed the fence posts, dirt spots, and blue trash can from the background of a few of these. It’s not a hard fix in Photoshop, but I’ve gotten in the habit of using only Lightroom to edit my 365 photos or blog photos, just because it’s so easy.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Making the most of convenient locations

 

Related posts:

The Paper Mama Photo Challenge: Eyes
Steppin' Out: Wine Festival
My Week(355) in iPhone Photos

Half Birthday

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

I’ll have a real 6 monthday update for Finnegan after his check-up today, but for now I felt it was important the world not miss out on these photos.

Related posts:

My Week(305) in iPhone Photos
My Week(320) in iPhone Photos
My Week(323) in iPhone Photos

12 on 12 – January 2017

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

You know what I need? Another photo project.

(That’s sarcasm. Serious sarcasm, because I already do my iPhone photo posts AND I’m doing another 365 Project which you can follow on Instagram.)

But I am a huge, huge fan of Sesame Ellis so when she started a group on Facebook to share and learn and discover new photographers, I couldn’t help myself.

So here’s this month’s 12 photos on the 12th of the month. The theme was supposed to be New Beginnings. These were all taken in January, so close enough for me.

Related posts:

Re-up
My Week(152) in iPhone Photos
My Week(289) in iPhone Photos
Get Adobe Flash player