After my last post about getting in the frame as Mamas many of you reached out and offered your experiences and asked great questions (I will get back to everyone I promise)! Thanks for learning along with me! We make each other better on this storytelling journey. A few folks requested help in telling your stories and since I am taking on a challenge to document my kid's lives in 5 images a week I am excited to share some of what I have learned photographing over the last few years. I am always still learning but I have found taking risks in telling my story and encouraging others helps me grow so thanks for joining me! I started studying photography because I wanted to tell the stories of the amazing people I lived and loved among in Africa and to better capture our family's story as our kids grew up in a place so different than where they were born. And I feel in love with photography as a medium that both told the story of a time and place AND simultaneously allowed me to have a voice in how that story was told. My subjects vary for Hawa Images but I always want to take the time to learn and understand how best to communicate their story. My family gives me unlimited opportunity to tell stories and I am working on creating memories in images with them more. And while I ADORE wandering the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand seeking stories I have also found the compelling story in our home is beautiful and worth telling. I hope this encourages you to tell your beautiful, messy story!
Capturing this time when our littles are still growing; when their chubby hands have troubled placing the puzzle pieces, when their clothing choices have more to do with twirling possibilities than the weather outside, and when their world still consists of so many firsts is an amazing opportunity.
Documenting this time is just so important. I wanted to share a short series of images made at our local library this week on a rainy day. We love the library and our kids always have a library card long before they can read. We go at least once a week and sometimes more (in Chicagoland winter for sure) and we fill our canvas bag with adventures and new worlds and important stories that spill out from the pages into our hearts and minds. The kids adore the children's area with computer games, read aloud books, fun little nooks to look at new books, and shelves of possibilities. I wanted to tell that story so I brought along my camera and my 35mm lens and am sharing our story in hopes you will feel inspired to capture yours! Be encouraged that any outing can be an opportunity to tell your story!! There are so many concepts and techniques that help us tell our story whether we are using an iphone or a professional camera. Here are a few concepts that can make for better storytelling when capturing your right now:
1. Capture Real Emotion: This was true for the above image....Sure I had to wait a while and then encourage the silliness but being patience meant I could capture a moment when our two littlest were cracking each other up. Of course I strive for tack sharp images in gorgeous light but true emotion is JUST AS IMPORTANT. Real emotion that captures personalities or mannerisms are priceless especially because our kids change so fast. And do not just focus on the giggles....as any parents of toddlers know well we spend just as much time in the trenches trying to comfort the tears because "me no get to push the button" or similar tragedies. These are some of my FAVORITE images. I made this image as we were leaving the library because the struggle got so real when it was time to leave (did I mention my kids LOVE the library?)
2. Focus On Details: My son's face is blurred by using a lower Aperture (or Fstop) because I only wanted to tell the story of his chubby little hands holding the building pieces against the lighted board. Sometimes just focusing on one thing helps you tell the story especially when part of a set of images. It narrows our focus and excludes distracting things like the cart of books next to him. The image below I only focused on my daughter's book selections because I want to remember she always thinks she can read these all in one week (and every week I remind her to just select a few).
3. Use Your Surroundings to Communicate Time & Place: The above images are clearly made in a library because I chose to include book shelves in the frames but they also tell the story of my kids; their size relative to what surrounds them. Abishai is just as tall as the book shelves as he rounds the corner in search of book about trucks! In the image below I wanted to capture the face Evy makes when she is concentrating because she always sticks out her tongue and it is just so her right now. I got down on her level and included the shelves of books to place her in the library.
4. Use Natural Framing or Leading Lines: These are techniques of composition that make images more attractive to our eyes. In the first image in this post I used the bright green nook to frame the kids reading their books. I noticed this would make a great natural frame and asked the kids to sit there while reading their books. In the above image Evy was flipping through books and I moved to the floor and shot at her level to capture the bookshelves behind her that naturally framed her. The image below is similar in that I used the repetitive books on the shelf to lead our eyes to my subject (Evy searching for books).
5. Change Up Your POV: When capturing a moment ask yourself "Can I adjust my perspective to tell this story in a more interesting or unexpected way?" My son was listening to an audio book on the computer so I first got down on his level and then stood behind him and captured the moment from above showing details. The composition is changed and the look and feel of the image can be changed as well. If you are capturing children getting down to their eye level can drastically affect your images and help tell better stories of this time in their lives. Just rotate around your subject and shoot from behind or above. I actually wished I had captured his little feet not yet touching the floor on the chair (next time!!) Sometimes it is just trying new things and seeing what you like.
Be adventurous, be observant, and try new things!! It is how we all learn. I would have missed the little butt crack precious-ness (it is a word right?) if I was not on the floor looking at books with my son and capturing him returning the books to the shelves and watching every. single. time. when he would insist on carrying too many and drop them and then bend down to pick them up- perfect moment to capture his sweet toddler booty.
Thanks friends!! Get out there and tell your beautiful, messy right now!
What are your favorite stories to tell? What do you want to learn more about?