Your time is precious. Your time is valuable. Kids are young for a short time, and it is so important to be present.
Hi, storytellers! I’m Lola. I love to capture the beauty of everyday life. I journal through my photography. I capture one thing a day that I’m grateful for. My husband bought me my first DSLR camera when we had our first son, that was almost 4 years ago. When I first got that camera, I captured every single thing about my boy. Babies have so many firsts and grow so fast; I felt like I had to capture absolutely everything. That first smile, that first feeding, that first walk. As grateful as I am that I was able to capture all those memories, I realized I wasn’t as present as I should have been. My face was behind the camera a lot, and there were so many photos that I didn’t end up using. I didn’t print them. I didn’t touch them. They were just stored on my hard drive. Many of the photos I took were very similar and I would spend hours sorting through them all, taking time away from my family. I had an epiphany one day and made a promise to myself. This promise was that I would be more present, and I have found a few different ways to do that.
I want to share with you some of the ways I was able to be more present, while still capturing our family moments. My favorite tips are as follows:
Remember film cameras? Where you could only capture a specific number of photos? There are photographers out there that still use film. Film cameras make you slow down and shoot with intention. I started getting into that mindset when I made a decision to change how I take photos. I told myself that I had 60 frames to capture the story. A few months later, I told myself that I had 40 frames, and now I’m down to 30 frames or less. I had to really REALLY learn how to work my camera, and this required learning how to use light to be successful.
Another way you can accomplish this is by using a smaller memory card. Not having the ability to store so many photos makes you want to get those first shots right. Culling, or sorting, can take a significant amount of your time. Not having hundreds of images to go through saves you the headache, and this prevents the burns out that photographers often tend to feel. And the most important thing about not having hundreds of photos to cull is having extra time with your family.
I look back at all those first moments with my first son and guess what? I’m hardly in any of them! I’m sure many of you can relate to this.
I decided to change that. I started taking self-portraits with my kids. Whenever I see my kids doing something, I want to be part of it, but also want to document it. I put my camera on whatever is around, a bench, the chair, and I’ve even put it on the floor and propped the camera up. To be honest, I hardly use a tripod to capture family moments. It takes too much time to set up and by the time I set it up, the moment is gone. Once I grab my camera, which is usually always around me, I quickly get the focus right, get the self-timer ready and join them. Most of the photos tend to be grainy or even out of focus but it’s ok. Let go of perfection. Show your kids you were there.
Take your time, observe and wait. My college degree is in sociology. We learned to observe and study our environment. I started implementing that philosophy in my photography. If the kids and I go for a walk, I observe the light, the shadows, the surroundings and, instead of capturing everything as I go, I wait for that “moment”. Learning to wait for the moment will save you lots of time. You will know what the “moment” is when it comes. That moment every photographer waits for, that moment that makes our soul happy. As a documentary photographer, the majority of my photos are candid. I’ve learned to anticipate that moment.
But don’t get me wrong, there are times that I do want to tell a whole story.
Instead of capturing the story continuously, capture it in parts. What I mean by that is take photos before, during and, after, but make sure to put that camera down and be present.
There is no need to look into the viewfinder every single time to see the end result either. There are times where you will want to capture what you’re imagining, but just capture what you can, and see what you can do through editing.
I do have a problem. My problem is that I want to capture absolutely everything. That need to document is strong. My husband calls me the family historian, and I take that title seriously. After all, one of the reasons we take photos is to remember the moment long after it has passed. It took me a long time to learn that less is more. Some moments need to be fully enjoyed and we can’t always do that being behind the camera. I always have my camera near me and ready to go, but I remind myself to slow down and just enjoy the moment. I used to capture every park visit, every walk but now I don’t, and it’s okay.
Join a 365 project.
You may think, how will the everyday project make me more present? Stick to getting one photo a day instead of multiple photos, and I call it a one-photo project. 365 will help your growth as a photographer. It will help you practice getting very familiar with your camera and light.
Your time is precious. Your time is valuable. Remember that!