Many photographers begin by photographing their own children. With time and practice, some of these photographers advance quickly and take on clients, but still want to find ways for themselves and their clients to remember childhood through their photography.
Four such talented photographers teamed up to present a workshop on this very topic, Remembering Childhood through Beyond the Wanderlust. The Remembering Childhood workshop is about catching the intricacies that make up childhood. How do we capture those precise moments to tell the story of what childhood means to us, to our families? The photographers behind the workshop share some of their tips here.
Be a visual storyteller
If you look back at images from your childhood think about what emotions they evoke. Or if you don't have many images to look back on, think about what memories you would have love to have had preserved. For Sara, one of her favorite images is of her as a four-year old, riding her favorite red tricycle down her neighborhood sidewalk. It always makes her smile because she remembers riding that tricycle and feeling so free as she sped down the hill.
What details do you want your kids to remember about their childhood? The unique curls in their baby fine hair? The way they loved to touch their own bellies? How they always had to hold their brother's hand? These are the important memories and stories that connect us to our children now and will have so much meaning to our children in the future.
Not every story you tell and image you make will be perfect but remember that those imperfect moments are a huge part of what make our children unique. Capturing the candid, beautiful mess of childhood is what often transforms a good image into a great one.
According to Katie, a child is a walking, talking, breathing oxymoron of perfection. On one hand, children were created perfect with an ability to see the world without judgement or fear or failure. Their little hearts are pure and happy. On the other hand, they earn every success through on ongoing repetition of failure.
As photographers, Katie believes that we need to embrace that same mindset and experience our world as it happens, setting aside the ideals that we must always get it right. When we allow ourselves to fail, our minds have a chance to problem solve, experiment, play. Like children, the joy we find in trying something new opens our souls to create art, art that is connected to feelings of freedom and experimentation; those same feelings of freedom and experimentation that children practice every day. We begin to see our world the way they see theirs.
Don't be afraid to play.... Mess with your exposure, slow down your shutter, find the interesting light that calls to you for one reason or another. Don't be afraid to get it wrong because the next time, you'll do it better.
Using Everyday Surroundings to Remember Childhood
Stop, look, listen, and document.
A typical day for so many of parents is spent running around, with tired kids and laundry piled high at high. While nothing about this sounds glamorous or photo worthy, we don't want to miss the beauty in it, because those mundane moments are a part of life.
Childhood is alive and well in all that your children do. As a mom on the go, Jenny's days are usually spent in school drop off and pick up lanes, parking lots, grocery stores, parks and everything in between - and she really shouldn't even have time for photography.
But, as Jenny says, the whole point is to document our children. Sometimes this requires thinking outside of the box. It's searching for those moments during the day that would otherwise be pushed aside as just another errand. When Jenny started documenting this way she started searching for elements that would add to the photo by looking around and surveying where her family spends time. She asks herself if her kids remember these places and if they will they serve as a memorable component of their childhood and her family's everyday. If the answer is yes, then she documents it. Shadows; the light is different in the summer, fall, winter and spring and so are our lives.
One way Jenny gives context to her photos is to let the light tell the story; from long golden fall shadows to harsh summer evening light. It is her hope that these things will serve as indications of how and where her children are experiencing childhood, at that what point in time, and how memories are being made.
Amy knows that when a lot of photographers first fall in love with photography, they are excited to capture their children doing what they do best: playing! As Moms begin to take photography more seriously, they can get caught up in the technical aspects of their cameras. While this knowledge is important, it's important to remember why you fell in love with taking pictures in the first place. Amy loves to be playful with her camera and her children and thinks that being a photographer probably makes her a better Mom because she goes to amazing places to explore nature and invents new games at home.
Amy also loves playing with the light and light is one of the first things she looks for at the start of her adventures. If she is at home, she often set up the activity in the pocket of light that she wants to use from building toys and puzzles to hide and seek! If she is out and about, she considers how she is going to use the environment to manipulate the light.
Amy's favorite types of light are soft backlight, rim light, and dramatic starbursts. The light is really just another subject in her frame, as she is focused on the moments involving her children and how the light is dancing around them. She looks for light bouncing off the water at the beach, or little glimpses of light sparkling through the leaves, or even light reflecting off windows and buildings. Light is everywhere, even on overcast days, and it can transform a nice photo into a magical one. So the next time you're playing with your children and having fun, remember to get playful with your camera too and capture these fabulous moments forever!