I am sure that many of us have a common answer to the question: “What inspires you to pick up your camera?”
Our kids, of course! This is Mum the Photographer and the simple fact you are even reading this blog indicates that your children inspire you to take photos and document their childhood.
However, for the purpose of this article, I want you to think a little deeper about that question. When you see your children doing something that inspires you to pick up your camera, what exactly is it that gives you that inspiration? For me it’s generally a combination of the kids being involved in a childhood activity, plus something extra. That extra something might be the gorgeous afternoon light, or the way your child’s face is framed in a moment, or the startling colours and surrounds that you find yourself in. Whatever the motivation and inspiration, it’s really worth understanding what that is before you decide how to frame your photo and click the shutter button. I’ll explain with some examples …
In the photo above of my little girl watering the garden, it wasn’t simply the act of her watering the plants in her PJs that tugged at my heart strings. It was the glorious afternoon light that was streaming in from behind her. I was watering along with her, but as I glanced over and saw her enveloped in that gorgeous light I couldn’t help but fetch my camera. With the light in mind, I framed the image to include a lot of it. No zooming in on her face or the water or plants. What I wanted to capture here was the light and the activity combined.
In this next photo, I was as interested in capturing the vivid colours of the river and surrounds as I was the girls taking a quick swim. Again, knowing that my inspiration for photographing the moment was the surrounds as much as the faces, I framed the image to ensure a lot of blue and a boat were visible in the background. It gives the image context as we ourselves were boating that day. By contrast if my inspiration had been bright eyes or wide smiles, I likely would have zoomed in much closer to make the faces more of a focus.
This last photo was a moment I saw as I walked into my little girls’ bedroom to read her a book before sleep time. I took one look at her face framed by her favourite blanket and book and knew I had to grab my camera. With this in mind, the frame created by her blanket and book were the inspiration for the photo and that’s what I focused on. If I had zoomed in our her face, or taken the photo from another angle which didn’t highlight the ‘frame’ the photo would have been completely different and not reflected my initial inspiration for picking up the camera in the first place.
I think the question “What has inspired me to pick up my camera?” is a great one to ask yourself as you rush to get your camera and capture a moment. All too often it’s more than just the activity that your child is involved in that has prompted you to photograph the moment. If you can start zoning in on the ‘little bit extra’ that inspires you to take your photographs and highlight that aspect when composing your photo, your shots will be that much more meaningful in the long run.