What can our families teach us about photography?

The park I
One way of viewing time is as an enemy, an adversary with whom you must do battle. Sometimes this is how I feel. Between work and the daily grind of life you can get stuck in a rut, feeling like there is no way of getting out. Creativity and doing the things you love can be an antidote to all of this. A panacea for the sole.

I was recently reading a blog post from the archive of the wonderful Eric Kim; 10 Things Magnum Photographer David Hurn Can Teach You About Street Photography. Not only has Eric’s post made me want to read David Hurn & Bill Jay’s book it has also made me think about how I approach my photography. In point 7 Eric talks about shooting with a project in mind. I have tried this in the past but with varied success, reading the blog post gave me a eureka moment. I have been doing it all wrong! I have been trying to make my life fit around a photography project when I should be making the photography project fit around my life.
The park II
I am great at coming up with ambitious projects which end up being a struggle to commit to. An idea which seems great in my head but ends up with me fighting against time and the vision instead of working with it. Many great photographers make their work fit to their lifestyle and constraints. I need to take a leaf out of their book and make time work for me.

So what better subject than my family!? I love them dearly and they certainly fall into the category of “shoot what you know”. Over time I have amassed a great number of images of my family but maybe I need to take a fresh look. Everyone has a family but nobody else has my family and nobody sees them the way I do. Other than genetics what is it that connects them to me? What do I see when I look in their eyes?

This doesn’t mean that I have to reduce my ambitions of course. If anything it means that I need to work harder and strive for more from my photography. I want to learn how to build a narrative, tell a my story. Sometimes you have to look without the camera in order to realise your vision when you are behind it.
The park III

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Photo Opportunities are Everywhere

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So this blog has got to start somewhere so I guess it may as well start here…

As soon as I started taking my photography seriously again I realised that to get better I am going to have to take more pictures. I know that this sounds pretty obvious but as someone who isn’t a professional photographer and has a full time job, finding time to take pictures isn’t always easy. Having just recently become a farther this lesson has become even more important. In short, I’m not going to learn anything if my camera is at home whilst I am out of the house.

Here are a few ways in which I have improved my opportunities to use my camera:

Leave your camera somewhere obvious

Your not going to remember to take your camera with you if its stuck at the back of a cupboard. Much to the dismay of my wife my camera is kept on a bookshelf in our dinning room. When I go to get my coat I can see my camera and more often than not I think to myself “Hmmm should I take my camera?”. Which leads me onto my next tip…

Yes, you should always take your camera

OK so it’s not always appropriate to take your camera everywhere but most of the time its going to be fine. For those with a heavy DSLR with lots of bulky lenses you have probably thought to yourself “Can I really be bothered to lug that around with me!” I have had this thought many times but I always remind myself that the only way I am going to get anywhere close to capturing images the same way favourite photographers do is to shoot more often.

Keep it simple

This tip leads on from the previous one (I wish I could say I planned it this way), keep the kit you keep by the door simple. The bag on my bookshelf contains my D7000 with a 35mm prime, 2 x rain covers, a lens cloth and a spare battery. All of this is kept in a small DSLR bag. Next to that is a Cannon compact for the times that even this small amount of kit is too much. The rest of my equipment is kept elsewhere. When I think I might need it I can go and get it. Keeping it simple helps with any negative thoughts about carrying my camera around with me.

Be prepared for rain

Rain is no excuse not to take your camera. Cheep and effective DSLR rain covers can be found on Amazon. They don’t take up much space so it is easy to keep them in your camera bag.

Get a spare battery

There is nothing more frustrating than motivating yourself to go out and take some photos only to find that your camera battery has no charge. If I had to choose one essential accessory it would be a spare battery. Once the charge has gone on the battery you are using simply swap it for a fresh one and keep shooting. Just remember to charge the spent one once you get home.

If all else fails, use your camera phone

So you have spent a great deal of money on expensive camera gear but you don’t have it with you when you find something worth photographing. Never fear, there is a camera on your phone which will still help you improve as a photographer. The thing to keep in mind is that its still worth taking the time to compose a shot when using your phone.

I have been employing these tips to help me take more photographs for a while now and I have definitely seen the benefits. If you have any of your own tips for taking more pictures then please add them to the comments.

The picture included in this post was taken on a recent family trip to Birmingham Library. If you are interested you can see the full set of images in the Birmingham Library I set in my Flickr stream.