Thursday, March 18, 2010

a day in the life

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about how I take photographs. More specifically, I've been thinking about what I take photographs of. I love doing portraits. I love getting those shots of perfectly sharp eyes and genuine expressions. I like cropping out the details so that the image is not about a time or place, but about who a person is.

But, I think I've discovered something I love doing
even more. I think more than anything, I like telling stories. I like taking photographs of not just an individual but of an individual in a particular time and space. Because I think the time and space helps us, as a viewer, understand the people in the image by providing better context.

I know that as I browse other photographer's portfolios, the images I tend to bookmark and revisit time and again are those with a journalistic slant - the story-telling shots that are immediately relate-able and give me goosebumps.

One of the reasons I fell in love with the art of photography was because I wanted to be able to document people's moments of love. When people asked, "What do you take pictures of?" My cheesy yet truthful answer was, "love." Because really, what's more important in this life than the people we love and our relationships with them?

So with that in mind, I started taking pictures. And originally I felt the best way to do it would be to take portraits - capturing the essence of who a person is and preserving it for generations to come.

But, like all things in life, ideas and approaches evolve. And over the course of time I've started to realize that
my most favourite images from every photo session that I do, are not actually the ones with tack sharp eyes and perfect expressions, but those that tell a story of how the people in the image relate. The odd shot where I catch a man looking lovingly at his wife-to-be or a mother's patient yet weary smile while holding a squirming two year old. It's these images that I treasure the most.

This evolution of thought does not come as a surprise to me, as I've always said that if I were to win the lottery, I would make documentaries. And I often think about going back to school to take journalism.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this... other than the fact that I want to tell you that I've been doing a lot of thinking about photojournalism and in particular, family photojournalism. I passionately believe in family and believe even more firmly that it should be documented.

So yesterday I started practicing. I went over to my brother's place and while I got some really nice portraits of Hannah and Joshua, I concentrated moreso on taking environmental type shots that told a really good story about what a day in their life is like. I concentrated on preserving the light and shadows to tell a better story of mood and I didn't photoshop out any of the "imperfections" that I would normally deem distracting (such as a corner of a picture frame on the wall).

Even though some of the images are not perfectly exposed or perfectly sharp, I am in love with the results. It's got me wondering how I can do this for other families. Wondering how plausible it would be to spend an entire day with a family from breakfast to bedtime and how easily and quickly could I melt into the background as they went about their day? Am I able to get these shots just because it's my brother's family? I don't know, but certainly, someday, I would like to try.

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