May 2018 Storytellers Blog Circle by Andrea Moffatt

storytellers blog circle logo

This post is one of several in a monthly educational blog circle made up of storytelling photographers and Offset artists. After you read how I shot my storytelling image for the month, click to the next artist at the bottom of my post and follow the circle the whole way around. Enjoy!

My kids (and their friends) are growing and streeeetching out, and along with that comes daily exploration and constant testing of their bodies' capabilities. In this case... how high they can climb! Pictured on the higher level are the neighbors. My little guy is below, but you know he's watching closely and biding his time! 

ISO 800, f/4.5, 1/1250sec

ISO 800, f/4.5, 1/1250sec

I wanted to make a storytelling image of the kids climbing this tree because it's something they do all the time. The only problem is that behind the tree are houses and cars and they make for a lot of visual noise that compete with the limbs of the tree (not to mention limbs of the children). For that reason I got low and shot upwards in order to get a cleaner canvas behind the tree.

After that, it was a matter of waiting until the little climbers moved into a position where I could see all three of them. When the child on the top right took a step onto the other branch, I knew I had my shot. I only had to reposition myself just a little in order to compose the shot this way.

I processed the image in black and white since the colors weren't doing much for me on that gray day. Plus, when I have a picture with lines everywhere, I seek to simplify it in whatever way I can. Here's the color version:


I hope the tree can hold them a little longer, because shooting it is as much an adventure for me as it is for them! 

Now swing on over to Taiwan and read about Rebecca Hunnicutt Farren's storytelling image! 

April 2018 Storytellers Blog Circle by Andrea Moffatt

storytellers blog circle logo

This post is one of several in a monthly educational blog circle made up of storytelling photographers and Offset artists. After you read how I shot my storytelling image for the month, click to the next artist at the bottom of my post and follow the circle the whole way around. Enjoy!

Our family (two families with kids plus grandparents) recently returned from Disney World, where we had the vacation of a lifetime. While everyone enjoyed different parts of the trip, one of my favorites was... you guessed it!... telling our story through pictures. It was reinvigorating to think about each ride, environment, and new experience as a puzzle to be solved. 

Probably the trickiest puzzles were those that were defined by low light or motion. The following image was made under both conditions:

ISO 3200, f/1.4, 1/30sec

The picture shows Pap pap and Grandma enjoying the Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland. On this ride, visitors are seated two to a car and try to defeat the evil Zurg while the car spins in unpredictable directions. In low light. Blacklight, to be exact. Sweating yet? 

This was one of the first rides we did, and so it was here I discovered that the dark was so complete that I couldn't actually see the dials on the top of my Fuji. It would've been an ideal time to have all my dial directions and locations memorized OR have a handy light up screen to show my settings. Unfortunately, I had neither of those at my disposal. My Fuji is still a little new to me and it doesn't have the light up screen on the body that my Nikon does. 

So here I am in this spinning car, spinning the dials on the top of my camera until the exposure looks right. (Luckily, I can do this because the Fuji Xt2 does have a terrific exposure preview function.) That's how I landed on such a slow shutter speed. I would never recommend purposefully choosing 1/30sec! 

Once I got the exposure right, I just needed an opportunity. Even though it sounds like I was fooling with my camera for a lot of the ride, I was mostly shooting my laser gun. I wasn't doing it well, mind you, but I was putting some feeling into it. Hey- we all have our strengths, and video games have never been mine. The whole time I was playing, I knew I had my exposure right, so I left it like that while I bided my time.

When I realized there was a point ahead of us where all the cars were lined up and close to each other, I simply waited until my husband and I were facing his parents, manually focused, and shot! 

That same series of steps: finding good exposure, biding my time, and manually exposing, were my bread and butter on all the dark rides on the trip. Hopefully it will help you the next time you encounter a low light + motion puzzle.

Keep reading and learning. Don't miss the next storyteller in the circle, Tanya Moon Photography! 

the family story keeper click photo school

March 2018 Storytellers Blog Circle by Andrea Moffatt

storytellers blog circle logo

This post is one of several in a monthly educational blog circle made up of storytelling photographers and Offset artists. After you read how I shot my storytelling image for the month, click to the next artist at the bottom of my post and follow the circle the whole way around. Enjoy!

I thought I would share an image this month that was HARD to make. It's also an image with which I'm not 100% satisfied. But it's a mistake to think that every image we shoot can and should be perfect. Sometimes, life gets in the way and we have to work with what we have. Does that mean we should avoid shooting that story and wait for better light, better composition? Absolutely not! Our lives are beautiful and happening right now: in mixed light, among clutter, and in less than ideal circumstances. We've got to do the best with what we've got.

The image below was an important one for me to capture because it marked the first time my husband was sharing one of his all time favorite books from his childhood with the boys.

ISO 2000, f/3.5, 1/250sec 

ISO 2000, f/3.5, 1/250sec 

Simple enough right? It would be a straight forward image to capture except... a few weeks ago, we got this new reading lamp in the living room. It's fantastic for reading, but it's my nemesis when it comes to low light photography. As you can see, it throws a pretty concentrated pool of light. The spotlight effect can be really lovely, especially if it's isolated as the only light in the room. For instance, if that spotlight had been the only light on and I would have backed up and shot very wide, the result could be stunning. 

Too bad that wasn't the scenario on this night! I was contending with the orange kitchen light in the background as well as the fact that my son was sitting up high on the arm of the couch so that the lamp was close enough to singe his hair. 

Because of how close his head was to the lamp, if I would have tried to expose for the faces of my husband and sons, that large bright patch on his head would have been utterly blown out. Knowing this, I exposed for the bright spot on his head. As a result, the rest of the picture was pretty dark and not only did I still have to burn down the highlight on his head a little more, I had bring up the exposure on their faces with a radial filter.

So there you have it. I got the picture- bottled that memory- even though the process wasn't pretty. I'd say that's fitting for a life that's not always pretty! 

Now keep on reading by clicking over to a new storyteller in our group, Stella Lebel in London. Happy reading!

Want to learn more about capturing family life in a meaningful way? Check out the course syllabus for my Click Photo School course beginning April 16th, The Family Story Keeper

My Favorite November Stories by Andrea Moffatt

I fell off of the daily shooting wagon many days this November. I almost didn't share any images, but when I looked back at November as a whole, I still found lots of pockets of beauty. Many days I have no pictures I like, but many days I have several. I showed myself some grace and put together a set of images I'm proud of, even though they aren't as evenly spread out as usual.

Please accept a gentle reminder to do the same for yourself here and there too. Whether your hobby is photography, painting, writing, or other, remember to celebrate all your small wins.... even if you were hoping for more! Be proud of what you made, and then begin again!

My Little October Stories by Andrea Moffatt

Hi everyone! Long time, no post. I apologize for my silence. I've been working on another project (TBA!) and haven't devoted any time to my poor blog or ignored Facebook page or abandoned Instagram account. In order to make amends, I thought I would post my October favorites. I was inspired by my friend Mariah's beautiful post. Seeing all of her October images in one place reminded me that sometimes taking the time to present our best work in one place can help us SEE our work, our lives... everything!...  with a little more clarity and gratefulness.

And what of our October? We had our first loose teeth and our first lost teeth. We still had lots of unexpectedly warm days to enjoy playing with neighbors and friends. We spent Saturday mornings on the soccer fields. Did the pumpkin thing, the corn maze thing, the hayride thing. And ended the month in candy heaven. It's good to be a kid, isn't it?


September 2017 Storytellers Blog Circle by Andrea Moffatt

storytellers blog circle logo

This post is one of several in a monthly educational blog circle made up of storytelling photographers and Offset artists. After you read how I shot my storytelling image for the month, click to the next artist at the bottom of my post and follow the circle the whole way around. Enjoy!

My image for this month is brought to you by the first wave of autumn leaves. Here on our tree-lined street, once they start to fall we have to rake pretty much once a week to keep from being buried alive. On the other hand, we only have to mow the grass about once a month in the summer due to the meager amount of sun that passes through our giant oaks. It makes all the fall yard work a little easier to stomach! That and, we're training the littles. They did 5 yards by themselves this weekend! 

three children raking the front yard

In the above shot, my goal was to capture all three rakers in a balanced frame that also used contrasty light well. You can see there is a long tree shadow that splits the frame. My son is standing right in the middle of the shadow in this shot, but the strong evening light is reflecting off of that patch of grass in front of him, resulting in his bright face. This is the shot I chose, but it's not perfect. My son's rake (middle) slightly intersects with the neighbor girl (right). Let me show you the iterations of this image that I rejected in favor of the above image.

two children raking front yard

In my first attempt, I used the tree to split the frame, the light was perfect, and I even had mirroring. However- I only had 2 kids and I wanted all 3. So it was back to the drawing board!

three kids raking the yard

I almost chose this frame as the final image because it's as close as I got to my original intent: to have all three kids in the light. But I don't like how the two boys on the left are so close to each other and the middle rake is in shadow. The image does not feel balanced enough.

two boys and girl raking the yard

Better balance, but way too much intersection between the two kids on the left. 

three kids raking autumn leaves

I like the varied directions of diagonal lines made by the rakes in this shot. I don't like that there is no breathing room between the edge of the frame and the third child's rake. (Also, more intersection!)

children doing yard work

The third child is dividing the middle rake almost directly in half. A division this dramatic is the first and last thing our eyes study as we try to make sense of it. 

None of these images are perfect, unfortunately. They are works in progress... like a yard freshly raked (by two 6 year olds and a 7 year old)! 

Keep the learning going by clicking to the next talented storyteller in our lineup: Nicole Sanchez Photography



Little Story Captures Your Family's Milestones by Andrea Moffatt

Real life is brimming with moments worthy of being captured and held close. But most of us rarely oblige. The annual smiling family photos line up on the living room wall, marking evidence of a full year's growth between each one. Portraits that prove there were birthdays celebrated, braces removed, babies turned toddlers. But images of those milestones? They are what's missing. When it comes to retelling the stories of the year past, we've only our memories on which to rely.

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Changes Coming This Fall by Andrea Moffatt

To say my teacher soul was satisfied at the end of my breakout in June would be an understatement. I had the opportunity to work with moms from all over the globe and together, we got to inquire into our own hearts. Why are we drawn to shoot what we do? (Hint: Nothing is random.) How do our past experiences and values leak into our personal photos?

So, when - right as I was about to put my feet up and enjoy a tall drink of something at the end of my breakout- I was offered another teaching opportunity, I didn't think long before taking it. I can't talk about it just yet, but I'll make the announcement as soon as all the parts are in place.

In order to continue writing and teaching, I need to make some extra space in my life. I will be eliminating some session types and continuing to shoot others at a much-needed price increase. Here are the changes you will see, beginning September 2017:

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May Storytellers Blog Circle by Andrea Moffatt

I thought it would fun to take my new Lensbaby Trio 28 with us to our local fair, because all the fun sights and colors would pair well with this creative and rather unpredictable lens. I wasn't really planning on getting any "important" shots of my boys, because from experience, I know that due to the tight space and the crowds I usually end up with a bunch of the same types of waiting-for-the-ride-to-start shots.

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A Little Photo Challenge for You by Andrea Moffatt

Wondering what the title of the breakout- The Stories that Make Us- actually means? I filled FIVE pages of possible titles before I finally hit on this one and I knew right away it was right because it really does most closely represent the content… the ideas that, as we grow, the stories we tell about ourselves AND the stories our parents tell us about ourselves really really do MAKE US. It’s true- right?? With our cameras as a tool- at any skill level, we have a special ability to speak to our subject directly though our photos. That’s what the breakout is about. It’s about being intentional about what our images will say to the people in them, even if we are not there to speak for our work.

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365 Stories | April 2017 by Andrea Moffatt

Here comes April, and there it goes! I'm a third of the way through my 2017 365 stories project (what?!) and less than a half a month from now my Click Photo School breakout is DUE! So far, my main PDF is over 100 pages, my videos total around an hour and I've made two bonus PDFs. I'm ready to share! (And to put my feet up!)

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Greensburg Photographer | Spring Photowalk by Andrea Moffatt

The backstory: You may remember that last year I made a goal to shoot more with my lensbaby sweet 35 so I could get quicker with manual focus and manipulating the quirks of the lens. I shot everything (indoors and out) with it for a few weeks and only made a few images at that time that I loved, despite taking hundreds of frames. By the end of that personal challenge, I could pretty quickly and accurately manually focus. And then? I put the lens away and pretty much didn't get it out until yesterday! 

So, fast forward about 9 months- last night, my friend, my oldest son, and I went for a walk last night on an absolutely beautiful night in downtown Greensburg PA.

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