Documenting homelife (final chapter)

We, across America and the world, continue to do what we can to flatten the curve. For most of us, that involves staying home. A lot. Today we’ll bring you the conclusion to Annette Heck’s series of ideas dedicated to capturing our loved ones at home. We’d like to encourage you to take advantage of this gift of time to capture your family, perhaps to spark or rekindle an interest in photography or to overcome your fear of your camera by simply diving in and practicing. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Snag the details.

Eyelashes. Little hands. Pudgy feet. How big your teen looks sprawled on the couch. Your daughter’s beautiful curls. Your hubby’s strong hands. Your own laugh. These are the details that make up the fabric of our families. So, capture them. Stand above your child as they focus on a project and try to capture their lashes. Take the pic from behind your daughter so that you can see her curls. Lay on the ground and put your camera on the ground so you can photograph those toes right on toe-level. Stand on chairs and whatever else to get different perspectives of these details. You’ll never be sorry that you captured the smallest details of the ones you love. You’ll treasure those shots forever.

Light Painting pics.

Say what? Yup. In photography, you can do some fun things by “painting with light”. There are some geeky reasons for how this works that I won’t get into now but here is your challenge. In a dark room, have your loved one hold a flashlight, book light, even a cell phone flash light will do the trick. Then, have them make designs in the air as you take a picture. See what random (and pretty cool) pics you snag. Can they make a shape? A letter? Write a full word (with advanced camera settings where you slow down your shutter speed, this can be done). Younger kids think this is pure genius. You’re welcome.


The family may groan for this one, but promise yourself to make it a 10 minute or less deal and everyone gets ice cream when you are done ;). The goal: get a portrait pic of each family member. Doesn’t have to be super fancy, just a good ol’ front-door trick pic (credits go to @KyleShultz for this one). How does it work? Open your front door OR put your person near a large window (avoiding direct sun rays since the point is to use soft, natural light). Turn off all of the lights in your house so that you are only using natural light as your light source. For younger kids, plunk them as close to the edge of the door, stand slightly above them so that they are looking up towards the camera (and hopefully the light source) and get a quick portrait. Ask them not to smile. At all. And make a joke of it when they start to smile a teensy bit. Ask for a silly face. Sad face. Angry face. Then ask for the fakest laugh they can muster. See if one of those prompts gets you a genuine smile from your kiddo. 10 minutes or less. My son recently lost two teeth and life can be so busy we can miss our chance to snap a pic of the new “happy gappy smile” before it changes again. So, quick portraits.

Family pic.

You’ve gotten pics of each family member, yourself, and now it’s time for the full kit and caboodle! Remember the timer function you used to get in the frame for Saturday’s idea? Use that timer again, except now include your whole crew. You’ve trained for this and can totally do it. Some tips (since doing a self-portrait of your family can feel harder than performing heart surgery):

  • Set everything up first. Position your camera on a tripod or steady it on a table/counter, etc.
  • Do some test shots with you in it to see if you like the way your lighting looks. Are you well-lit? If not, move you and/or your camera until you are pleased with how the lighting looks on you. A large window (open the blinds, pull open curtains, etc.) with indirect light coming in is a great light source you can use. If you are outside, on a sunny day have your crew face their shadow or put them in a shaded area facing out towards your light. There is way more covered on this through the PhotoFix course, but for now, work with what you have and test things out.
  • Once you have things set up THEN bring in your family. Start the timer and take some silly photos. One smiling at the camera. Tell everyone to laugh. Try to get a shot of interaction (“look at someone else and make them laugh or tickle them or hug them”, etc.). Interaction shots are my absolute fave. Fair warning, they will most likely not be perfect but that is kind of true to family right… perfectly imperfect. Plus, any photo that captures you all together is gold because those may not happen as often as we would like.

The images you capture during this unprecedented time at home could be one of the true gifts of this otherwise difficult situation. You have the time and the skills (yes, you really do have the skills) to build a treasure here. We promise that any amount of time you devote to capturing your loved ones will not be wasted.

If you missed them, we’d encourage you to take a peek at our first or second post in this series. A huge thank you to Annette Heck for not only generating this list of ideas, but allowing us to share them with our whole SPS Family. If you’re chomping at the bit for more photography info, we encourage you to check out the free Tips section on our website or consider joining our Members program where there’s new content weekly and plenty of past content to keep you busy for a very long while indeed. 

We’re planning to keep coming to you more often than our typical every other week posts during this time when we are all homebound. We hope our posts will continue to inspire you to capture the things around you and give you a creative respite from what’s going on around us. Until then, stay safe.

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