As we approached the end of the first twelve months I gave myself a little exercise and started thinking through qualities, traits and words that describe our third boy. He’s snuggly, gentle, inquisitive, wondrous, contemplative (and a little clumsy!) Yet he has a charismatic, loud feisty side to him that I know will come in highly useful over the years as the youngest of three brothers! I imagine most go through the emotions of moving out of the first year, it’s an unnerving feeling to start to let go a little as we begin to realize there is no stopping this natural process called ‘growing up.’ Yet, stepping back and seeing our littles gain a sense of independence and pride is highly rewarding.
You could even say that there is a slight parallel in this months theme; stepping into The Great Outdoors ;-)
For the majority of Capturing The First Year I have stayed within the confines of the house, using the interior as the backdrop for the photos sessions. Hopefully this has encouraged many of you to think creatively about how you photograph. It is possible to work within small spaces and without glamorous backgrounds or a backdrop. However, I wanted to take full advantage now that Mattheus is mobile and enjoying the outside world.
(*For a similar session, I’d recommend using a prime lens and shooting in manual)
A WORD ON LOCATION
This little forested area is a five minute journey from our house where we go several times a week to walk or run. We’ve spent many hours here together, including in utero!
Start paying attention to the places you play or visit frequently with your baby. This may be the back garden or a local park, a garden center even! I recommend not being too far away from the house for a mini session and be prepared for any weather changes.
If you’re new to location photo sessions, here I share some thoughts on how to Plan A Successful Mini Session With Your Child.
Aside from giving a little thought to an outfit, you really don’t need anything! Use nature! Depending on the season there is an array of items you can use to spark curiosity. (Though I will be honest and say that I spent a lot of time running back and forth taking little rocks and acorns out of his hand and half chewed leaves out of his mouth!)
Such objects or the addition of a hat for instance can bring beautiful texture to a picture.
PAINT WITH LIGHT
If you have read several other posts then you will know that I’m a stickler about direct sun light and its unflattering nature. I would still suggest avoiding shooting in an area where the sunlight directly falls on your child’s face to avoid squinty eyes and large unflattering shadows under the nose and eyes. Read more here to learn about shooting in open shade. However, for this shoot, I forwent my preferred overcast conditions and waited for a sunny day.
Here is the truly exciting part! (For me at least!)
My hope was that the trees would provide a beautiful filter and the controlled rays of light would add to the magic of the forest scene. Now to paint with the light! Experiment with the sunlight falling on and illuminating an object that your child is holding. Take the leaf for example. If the sun is hitting the top of the leaf, it will reflect the light. Reposition yourself slightly and shoot upwards with the sun behind the leaf and the contrast of the leaf veins will make it appear as though the leaf is glowing. You can also add to this in editing; play around with the spot contrast tool.
You will find that you can also use the sun rays coming through the trees to add a little sun flare to a few images. The key is to make sure you have your camera’s focal point (AF point selection) set on manual, not auto, focusing on your chosen focal point (often this is the eyes.)
I found over the years that if I resist the temptation to keep shooting for fear of missing a moment and learn to press the shutter release slowly, it gives the camera proper time to refocus and my images are sharper.
ANGLES AND DETAIL
Purchasing my first prime lens changed the way I photographed. I could no longer depend on a zoom lens to change what filled the frame, but I had to move myself around my subject. This propelled me into a lifelong journey utilizing photography as a means of story telling. Think of a good book and the way that the characters or the scene are described. Among other things, a good story has layers. A good story has a narrative that helps us to enter into the story.
Differing angles and focusing on detail will add depth to your pictures and bring a sense of continuation.
Translating heart felt emotion into photography is a great challenge and one that will continue to evolve. Half of the challenge no doubt is getting your camera to comply in the moment as well as thinking through light and composition but never underestimate the power of emotion.
Spend a little time going through the little exercise I wrote about at the beginning of this post. How would you describe your baby in words, the good, the bad and the ugly ;-) Can you capture any of this in a picture?
Hard to believe there is just one more post to come to wrap up Capturing The First Year. Documenting these first twelve months has been an incredible journey for me personally but discovering the many ways it has helped to shape the way YOU photograph is incredible. Come and visit me on Instagram or sign up for upcoming posts and more!