By Whitney Scott
Three weeks ago I picked up my camera just because I wanted to.
Having been a professional photographer for over a dozen years, I have a camera in my hand multiple times a week, but always with the goal of creating something sellable for other people. It’s my source of income. My job. Not that I resent it; I still love what I do, but when it comes to capturing my own family I’ll grab my Iphone like every other “instant gratification do what’s easiest” person out there.
But a worldwide pandemic does change things, doesn’t it?
A week after shutting down our business indefinitely I felt itchy. As you all probably know very well, the need to create is a deep instinct. It’s not something you turn off. Don’t get me wrong, I can channel that creativity into other things as well. During this slow time our family has put in a garden, worked on home renovations, baked and painted and taken online classes to learn everything from magic to make-up. However, I long for my camera like an extension of myself, so picking it up to document our family during this quarantine felt like the perfect thing to do.
I believe you should do it too.
Here are my best tips for telling the full story in a beautiful way.
Capture all the emotions
We are experiencing something no one in our generation has ever been through, and there are so many emotions to be had. Some days we are going to fully enjoy the extra time with our family and we may have photos of laughter and joy. Other days we will distinctly feel the boredom and frustration. Don’t stop photographing just because things aren’t pretty and perfect in the moment. Someday you will be glad that you captured how this historic time really felt.
Find what is unique about this time
What are you doing during this time that you’ve never done before? Or never in this way? School and work and church from home are all strange and new opportunities to photograph. We’ve had extended family Zoom chats and our son even has had “game dates” with his friends on Facebook live. I’ve seen photographer friends capturing the empty streets from their normally bustling cities, and even the grocery store shelves and everyone wearing masks represent the strange way we are living right now.
Think like an artist in your home
Just because you are photographing in your own home doesn’t mean you have to take typical snapshots! Look for opportunities for still life, seek out the beauty in shadows and silhouettes, angles, shapes and leading lines. Finding beauty in the mundane is a wonderfully rewarding challenge for a creative.
Capture activity (and remember, no activity is insignificant!)
Activities plus photographs equal memories. Yep. I just made that up, but it’s true! What are you doing with your days? Are you planting a garden? Baking? Playing board games? Jumping on the trampoline? Watching Disney plus while wearing an Elsa dress? It’s all worthy of remembering! Everybody is good at capturing the BIG things. It’s when the little things are captured that we get a complete picture of the rhythm of our days.
Don’t forget pets!
I add this category because we have two teenagers in our home right now, and it’s our dog Lily who tends to pose the best for photographs. Plus, she’s really pretty and does cute things that everyone should see.
Everyday details are important
This category, more than all the others, will be your biggest and best storyteller. This is where you don’t clean up the mess and take the photo anyway.
Fort in the living room? Check.
What you ate for dinner? Check.
Receipt from your stock-up trip to the grocery store? Check.
Dirty gloves planting in the garden? Check.
Ingredients for dinner set out? Check.
Sometimes it’s the little things that are the big things.
Don’t forget yourself!
This category reminds me of a page right out of my scrapbook as a baby. The one with the title “Fun Times with Mom!”. On it were snapshots at the park of me, sitting on a picnic blanket... with my mom’s purse. If YOU are the one always taking the pictures, be sure to set up a scenario where you can actually be in a few too. I’ve even been known to capture my own shadow or reflection in the mirror just to prove I was there. And self timers? They were made for this.
But most of all, have fun!
On one hand this is an assignment, an historical document for you to have for your family someday when this is long past. On the other hand, this is an opportunity for you to reconnect to the craft you love in a way that is personal and just for you! Everyone keeps talking about using this time to reset/renew/recharge. What better way to do that than turning your lens on the places and people you love most? I mean, what else are you going to do right now?
About Whitney and David
Whitney & David Scott run an internationally award winning studio located in Bella Vista, Arkansas. They are also sought after educators in the professional photographic community and can frequently be found speaking at conferences and workshops across the nation.
To find out more about them, visit their website whitneyscottphotography.com