Every once in a while as parents, we have Moments. You know the ones. Where without warning, all is right with the world and you feel like Mother (or Father) of the Year. (wink) I didn't say these Moments happened daily, or even weekly, did I? What if you could hold these moments close to your heart forever? If you have a camera, you can!
Being able to capture the story, not just in one picture, but in a flowing series that truly captures the mood and meaning of the moment is a gift. When done well, a good image can transport you right back and bring a flood of memories... just like a song or a smell! And once you master the art of storytelling through images, it will come so naturally that you won't have to hide behind your camera for the entirety of the activity. You will be able to shoot with intention and then, also with intention, put your camera down and be in the moment with your loved ones.
It's with these goals in mind that I'd like to kick off a new blog series: Tell Your Little Story. My intended audience is both photographers and non-photographers. Whether your intention is to shoot to tell your own family's story or a client's, I have some pointers for you. I believe that storytelling is storytelling. If you understand the fundamentals, you can tell an exquisite story only with your phone camera.
So let's get started! Today, while my oldest was in school, my 2 year old painted on the easel for the first time. He does not have the same careful personality as his brother, hence the late start. Since this was his first time, there was an atmosphere of excitement and exploration that I know won't be present in this way again. I grabbed my camera and tried to capture some images that showed the careful exploration and focus he was exhibiting.
When you are storytelling, one of the simplest things you can do to tell all of the story is think about perspective. It is incredibly easy to fall into the trap of standing in one spot like there is glue on your feet and ending up with 30 frames that are so similar you have play the "which thing is different" game to decipher which one you want to keep. To avoid falling into this trap, think:
Above, straight down
360 degrees around your subject (subject's front, back, and both sides)
Wide pull back
See if you can spot every one of these perspectives in my 12 images.
One thing about shooting in front of a window is that when I varied my perspective, I varied greatly the way my subject was lit. This is important in terms of variety. When I was shooting towards the window, I had some silhouette shots or bright backlit shots. When I shot from between him and the window, he was evenly, flatly lit. And when I shot from behind or in front of him, he was side lit.
Thinking about perspective is a super simple way to start out storytelling. So pick a story to tell, and try it out!
Title: Little Artist
Mood: quiet, peaceful
Significance: I wanted to shoot this story because it was his first time painting. I was aiming to capture his quiet concentration as he explored something new. As an added bonus, I knew it would be a great time to photograph this activity with only one child in the mix and a quiet house.
Character(s): My 2 year old son
Setting: In the living room of my home, in front of the window
Story arc: He started out slow and deliberate, but as he became more comfortable he started double fisting the brushes! Like any 2 year old painter, this art piece was multi (multi!) layered, so as the session wore on, the paper became more and more covered and dripping with paint.