family photography

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

What You Get with a Little Story Portrait Session: Pittsburgh Family Photographer by Andrea Moffatt

Even though Little Story Studio specializes in documentary, unposed imagery, I still offer more traditional family photo sessions. These Family Portrait Sessions are a mix of lightly posed/photographer guided and unposed, playful photos that capture your family's unique personality. While I'm shooting, my aim is to tell the story of how you are when you're together. 

Every session is different and customized to you, but here are some of the shots that all sessions have in common.

When you book a Family Portrait Session with me, you get: 

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Saturday Afternoon at Home: A Documentary Session by Andrea Moffatt

I met the most easy-going, friendly family a couple weeks ago. We hung out at home, fed the ducks a few blocks away, and played in the front yard- all while entertaining some out of town family! Even though I only was there for a few hours, I feel like I know them well enough to say that these pictures are probably pretty representative of their life at home with two little ones. (And can I just say, I LOVE a house filled with books, and this house was one of those!)

Here are some of my favorite shots from the afternoon:

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A Trip Down Memory Lane by Andrea Moffatt

I opened the "doors" to Little Story Studio in 2012, but it wasn't until the second part of 2014 that I found my niche documenting family life. The very first session I shot in this fly-on-the-wall style was that of my good friends, Carolyn and Justin. They were totally open to letting me come to their house and follow them around for the evening. At the time, I didn't even have the correct gear, and some of the low light pictures could be technically better. But their session still gives me the feels when I watch it back. 

That got me thinking-- if my eyes well up with tears watching this old video, what do my friends feel and think when THEY watch it back? So, I asked! 

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Documenting a Season by Documenting a Day by Andrea Moffatt

One of the best ways I know to remember certain phases, ages, and stages is by periodically doing full day Story of a Day session with my own family. There's nothing like revisiting a day in my life from morning till night to immediately trigger memories - of tantrums, milestones, emerging independence, favorite toys, and beloved rituals. These are the things that are envelope us when we are living it, but then quickly fade into one big generalization of life at that time.  

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