With the popularity of Instagram and the competition to find the most exotic photographic location, many photographers feel the need to spend a fortune to capture popular destinations. In the meantime, many don’t realize that the most amazing photographic subject may well be just around you.
Photography is the art of connecting and seeing in your own way! Seeing is specific to the person’s feelings, experiences and visual sensitiveness. The starting point of “seeing” is always a connection. There should be some kind of emotional, intellectual, visual or even physical connection to a place, situation or person to warrant being the subject of a photograph.
X-Pro1, XF 35mm F1.4
Not only do you have a strong connection with your family but you know their lives inside out. Witnessing your “subjects” daily allows you to capture those fleeing moments of joy, sadness, beauty and misery of daily existence. When photographing people you don’t know, you usually experience one dimension – after all, we all want to show our best side when being photographed. Unfortunately, this posturing is a serious barrier to overcome. When photographing your family, this barrier is usually down, allowing you to produce important photographic work.
X-T1, XF 56mm F1.2
No, you don’t need to get fancy when photographing your family. You are not there to test your flash system or your fancy telephoto. You must focus on them. The moments when your newborn looks into your wife’s eyes and they lock together or when your son drives a car with you for the first time. It could be the moments of joy when your parents kiss at their anniversary and hold hands.
However, it is not only about them. It is how you feel that makes the difference. Family moments often shake up our emotions and awake something in us, which allows us to see what we usually miss in the rush of our daily lives.
And don’t think that only joyful occasions deserve to be documented. In many cultures, photographing events like funerals is quite common. After all, when someone dies, many families come together. Ironically, a sad occasion like this often brings out the best in people as they realize how fragile life can be. Many years ago, I was asked to photograph the funeral of a young girl. I have never seen so many emotions, family reunions, beautiful moments of love, compassion and just human interactions as those I witnessed during this celebration of life. In fact, I was so taken that my viewfinder got quite foggy.
There was a time in the photographic world when sharing family photos was thought to be an amateur thing to do. Fortunately, not any longer. This is in part thanks to the personal work of fellow X-series photographers such as Kevin Mullins and Jonas Rask, and many others. Make sure to check out their websites as they share a lot of family photography – including tips on how to do it.
Just recently Paul Vincent, a very talented photographer, just shared with us his article “Man in the Mirror” triggered by the piece I wrote in the July edition of FujiLove Magazine. Paul is talking about his journey as a photographer and shares his love of family photography. It’s a truly great, honest piece about self-discovery as a human being and photographer (make sure to check out his superb street and personal work!)
In the meantime, don’t look too far to find your seeing. Look around you and feel – this may well be the best thing you ever do for your photography.
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