A few years ago I bit the bullet and invested in a big, expensive, fancy pants camera and I felt I could finally call myself a photographer. You and I both know that just because you have the gear, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re a professional but there is nothing to stop you from trying to be, to look for opportunities to learn and progress as an artist whether you intend to make money from it or not.
I know a lot of bloggers who take beautiful photographs, documenting their daily lives as I do. Some have children, some have pets and others have beautiful homes or creative hobbies. You don’t have to be in business shooting weddings, couple’s portraits or family photos to create beautiful photographs. What you need is an understanding of your camera, some patience and how to engage the subject your shooting as well as the audience who you intend to show the finished image to.
I’ve had a camera in my hands for over 15 years, I didn’t got to university and I was never an apprentice in a photographers studio, I just took every opportunity I came across to expand my knowledge and deepen my appreciation of photography. I studied via correspondence, won awards, participated in workshops and organised photo shoots on my own terms. I don’t have a team, I don’t have three camera bodies, I don’t have top of the range gear and I don’t have an overflowing bank account… but I love it.
It’s taken over 10 years to allow myself to fully commit to my passion. To accept that I may not make enough from it to buy a house but that every little bit I do earn helps. That no matter what I look like, as soon as I put the camera to my face, the images will speak volumes. That the moment I think I know all I can about my profession I will, without question, learn something new.
The most important tool in blogging for me personally is images, I’m a visual creature. In order for me to really connect with you I need to see the world through your eyes. I’m smart enough to realise my strength doesn’t lie in my writing. I make spelling errors, screw up grammar and use way to many commas. I write the way I speak, just minus the swearing.
When I’m asked about how I blog I say “My blog is made up of photos of my life just with captions.”. My photos do the talking for me. I love looking back on stories I’ve written, seeing the photos, moments captured in time from my own eye. When I see one I’m instantly transported back in time. I hope that’s what Aidan will get out of all this. His life captured in slivered moments for him to recall, to relive in his memory.
Just taking photos is often not enough to convey a feeling, to share a unique perspective with the viewer. For instance I never ask Aidan to “smile” because all that people would see is a child smiling and whilst a beautiful happy child is nice, nice is ordinary. Nice lacks feeling and it often feels forced. I believe a truly engaging image is one that makes us ponder, documents activity and somehow builds a bond between the subject and the viewer. Sounds impossible right?
It’s what journalists and documentarians do every day. Heart wrenching images on the cover of national newspapers, stunning natural images from across the globe in National Geographic, images of war torn children, of famine, of royal weddings, even of Olympic celebration. What we get from these photos is a sense of compassion and involvement, the viewer invests part of themselves in what they see. They see something that makes them feel, then draws back on memories of their own achievements, failures, passions and aspirations.
How does any of this apply to how you take photographs at home? How can you make your readers and family members feel your images that way? Well it all comes down to how you engage with your subject and what you want to achieve. Most of us enjoy capturing our family members and friends in a casual environment, generally using a compact digital camera or with an entry level DSLR camera. No matter what you use, if there is no feeling behind the image it will just be fine… and no one ponders things that are fine or nice.
Growing up I mainly shot candid photos of my friends and no real thought or feeling went into it. I saved my energy for macro still life photos of objects surrounding me. Looking back I still feel the same excitement of discovery, a tiny flower, a fleck of red dust on rusty machinery. I compared the images and threw away the thought of ever becoming a “people” photographer because the images seemed dry in comparison. It took years of practice and thousands of nice images for me to learn how to get more out of my photos.
Subject engagement is key, learning how to get the most out of the person in focus and that’s what Angie Baxter’s first e-book “The Art of Interviewing Children” is all about. A portrait photographer living in Melbourne with her husband and three adorable children who does what she loves everyday. I’ve always found her to be such an inspiration.
Angie was one of my first practical teachers, I signed up to her Sydney “Love Your Camera” and “Love Your Camera II“ workshops and found them to be a wealth of knowledge. Afterward Angie was an unofficial mentor sending encouraging emails and even invited me to assist her on one of my very first weddings. She’s a natural teacher so when she offered me a copy of her ebook and asked if I’d like to review it on my blog for my readers I didn’t hesitate.
If you want to learn specific techniques, games, questions and phrases to get the best reactions out of your little ones then you’ll want to buy her book. I’ve been using some of her tricks for awhile now and after reading I have a buckload more to draw inspiration from. This book isn’t about the technical side to photography, it wont go into lighting, exposure or composition. What is does go into is how to get the most honest and responsive expressions out of the most interesting little people on the planet, your kids.
I have one copy to give away!!! “The Art of Interviewing Children“ can be purchased for $30.00 AUD so it’s already a really affordable ebook to learn a few top tips. To enter all you have to do is answer this question:
What camera do you use to take your photos?
Competition open to Australian and International readers. Competition closes 30th June 2012 at 5pm AEST. Winner will be announced in the comments section of this post. This is a game of skill. I was paid for this post (opinions are my own) and supplied with a copy of “The Art of Interviewing Children” to review.