With A Week in the Life coming around the corner, I thought I’d share some of my secrets for getting everyday portraits. The truth is, I really hate when people look at me while I’m taking pictures- “Smile for the Camera” just does not make the best shots. I really prefer candid photography portraits.
Getting Candid Photography Portraits
I’m not sure that I really have any secrets. . . Well maybe there’s one. Behind every amazing shot, there’s probably 100 more- most of the time. My big secret is to just keep shooting. Getting great candids call for it.
I thought to illustrate some of my thoughts on the process I’d share some pictures of my Nephew Jack- whose turning 17 today! How did that happen? (And perhaps I made this picture look a little older. . . the scanned image colors were off. But still. . the olden days. As I heard a few months back, the 1900’s)
And when did I get to a point where I can see just how much younger I am in that picture? That much younger? Yikes! And Cody and I were newly engaged at the time.
I noticed as I went through my pictures just how much my photography has changed over the years and thankfully improved. Still, many of my early shots of him are more candids than anything else. I’ve always preferred them that way. But, he was born in the film days. . . it wasn’t until I got a digital camera and started snapping away pictures of him that I really began to learn. Today, I’m just going to show you a mix of various shots- some are certainly better than others. But, in this case, the thing that matters to me is that they all tell a story.
Here’s an example of an early shot. . . One thing you learn quickly is that it doesn’t always happen perfectly- and that’s okay. We don’t have to be perfect. Perfection is not demanded from us when we tell our stories. I wish Cody wasn’t directly behind him. . . but to get this shot I either would have had to keep shooting (and film at that time cost money!) or moved. My best bet probably was to have kept shooting because I couldn’t have moved fast enough. Keep shooting!
Sometimes it’s pretty easy. Recognize the moment. These were our mornings. Of course, sometimes you just take the shot. When you can, zoom with your feet, but often if you really don’t want to be noticed you can’t do that. That was the case here. Obviously, I can crop it down if I want.
This one tells a whole other story- it’s about recognizing the scene before you. Someone we know didn’t get the rifle where it should have been. (This one is much more telling then the next shot I’ll show you from the same day at the lease. It tells a more complete story. Sure, I’d have loved if Cody wasn’t there. . . but life is happening around you. If you want to capture reality, you have to let it unfold naturally.)
Sometimes you have accept the silliness.
Sometimes the silliness tells a better story. Of all the shots I’m showing you today, these are the only ones that weren’t just ordinary days and that were me actually trying to capture a portrait. But here’s the thing, the few shots of these two where they were serious, were awful. Instead, by keeping the shutter button pressed and letting go, I captured their relationship so well.
I’ve no idea why he’d be nervous around Uncle Cody.
Oh it’s on now.
Hmm, that would give me a reason to be nervous. Fountain dive.
Look for interactions as things are unfolding. You’re sure to get some golden nuggets. . . I don’t think Jack quite knew what to make of this.
Know that not all shots are going to be stellar, but they still tell a story. It would have been nice if Cody was fully in this shot. I don’t know, I was probably laughing so hard myself that I missed that. . . and the action was fast. You still want to be in the moment while you are shooting. These two loved to play baseball in the backyard- with carpet for bases in almost anything goes games.
When you can, raise the ISO on your camera or shoot in Shutter Priority when the action is fast. It’s especially true when you’re talking about kids. That’s what I should have done in this picture though I kinda like the way it shows movement. (Truth be told, I should have in the image above too, but this was an early digital. To think about the technology changes this kid has seen in his 17 years so far. . . I’m not sure whether the blur is the settings or the capabilities of the camera- Sometimes you work within your limits. As much as this was true with early digitals, it’s still true with Camera Phones- get the story, get the image, don’t worry if it ain’t perfect.) I typically don’t have it on Auto ISO but it might have helped in this case- we were going from sunshine to shadows and back frequently. Sometimes you need to simplify.
Sometimes it pays to just simplify.
I took this picture with the iPhone app Hipstamatic. You can choose “lenses” and “films” or you can shake for a combination. but, once you take the picture, you’re done. . . and they are all square. It’s fun and I often will shake and shoot.
No moment is too ordinary to capture.
Or too boring. We were shopping when I took this picture. Or well, really, we were all waiting on Nana to finish when I snapped this one. . . Of course, he wasn’t so sure he wanted his picture taken, but I kept snapping.
Seriously, keep snapping away. You can delete the images that don’t come out. But, if you don’t keep taking pictures, you might miss the moment you really want.
And while you’re at it, try to get a mix of close-ups and further away– if time and situation will allow for it.
And if all else fails, get them when they aren’t looking at all. And you know, who says you have to get their face in the picture?
There’s the little guy again! This was the weekend we listened to Johnny Horton on repeat. . . and probably more specifically, “The Battle of New Orleans”. I can still hear him singing. The coke cans and water battles became his own battle of New Orleans. Thankfully, he didn’t try to use an alligator. (It would have been too long- like this Daisy Red Rider was back then.) Hmm, I need to scrapbook that- and the link back to my own childhood with road trips and Johnny Horton. (Hah! talking about changes in technology- that was on tape just after we’d gotten a new car and lost our 8 track player. . . and now it’s on my phone.)
The reason we take these pictures is to remember- because they all become the olden days way too fast. There are so many memories, so many stories unfolding in these pictures.
Happy Birthday Jack!