For as long as I can remember, I’ve connected photography with family. Photography was handed down to me by my mother, inherited almost. She always carried her Pentax and few rolls of film. In fact, some of my earliest memories are running into Walgreens to buy film or pick up developed pictures for her. As I got older, I became the one carrying the camera. I love and appreciate the photos my mom handed down to me, and I hope to do the same for my children – especially as a new dad for the third time this week!
But just because photography might not have been handed down to you from your family, it doesn’t mean you can’t take great family photos. Any dad can pick up their camera or smartphone and capture special family moments. With Father’s Day approaching, I want to share a few tips I have found most helpful as my family’s official photographer.
- Take Your Camera Everywhere – and make sure it fits your skillset and budget. You never know when you will come across a memory worth snapping and, there is often something extraordinary in the ordinary. But if you don’t always have your camera handy, you can’t capture those memories – and making sure your camera works for you is key in being able to bring it everywhere. I started out with an expensive DSLR lens combo, but I soon found it useless and often at home because it was too large and cumbersome to carry alongside two small children. I instead opted to ditch it for a small mirrorless. With the advances in mirrorless cameras, you can get both amazing quality and functionality in an easy to operate and transportable package.
- Try Not To Interrupt The Action – One of my favorite family photographs is just a quick frozen moment as we set off on a family walk. The photo, to me, is family unity and love personified. I love the adoring looks my wife and son are giving me and the look my daughter is giving her little brother. Children can sometimes be easily distracted, and if they get overly excited about being photographed, they may become bashful (or sometimes the opposite, complete hams!) and stop doing the cute thing I wanted to capture. But even if they start doing something else, don’t lose heart, not every attempt will lead to an amazing photograph.
- Shoot Wide – I often find my children love the context of the photos. Going wide can add so much to the story behind a photo. Seeing the little details, whether favorite toys or old shoes, often reminds them of these memories and experiences from their childhood. In turn, this continues the tradition my mother started with me, continuing to connect them to our family’s past.
- Share And Print Them – The amazing photos we take of our family need to be shared with family and friends. The beauty is this can be done in so many ways now. Whether framing prints, building a website, as I have on SmugMug, or some other unique way special to you – the options are endless.
- Capitalize On The Fact That Smartphones Are Ubiquitous – Everyone has their smartphone all the time and everywhere they go. That convenience, along with the ever increasing quality of the cameras, makes them a great tool to capture those family moments. Personally, I make sure all my phone’s photos are backed up with my Smugmug app – you never want to accidentally lose all your precious memories.
To me, my family is the most important and beautiful thing in my life. “Just a Dad With a Camera” is a short film explaining the duty I feel – and I know many other fathers feel – to capture and protect our memories. Regardless of your skill level, documenting your family and what makes them so special is something you should be very proud of, on Father’s Day and every day.
Author: L. Brent Gilmore