Tips for Documenting Everyday Life

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written by SPS Grads member Katrina Green

One of the best things about improving your photography as a parent is that you’re there. You’re right in the thick of all of the small moments that make up life. In this post SPS Grads member, Katrina Green, gives us her best tips for capturing all of those everyday moments we’ll want to look back on.

1. Have your camera ready

One of my biggest tips is always having your camera easily accessible. I have my camera up on a bookshelf in the living room with all my lenses. So if I see a moment happening, I can run and get my camera, and switch lenses quickly. I only have prime lenses, so having them handy is a must.

As I’m running to get my camera, I’m thinking of my of settings, lighting, and best composition. If I’m being honest, I’m also thinking which angle will best hide the clutter I don’t want in the photo. Moments happen so fast that it’s always a bummer to miss a great moment because my settings were off and the photo ends up being too dark or blown out. So thinking about settings while I’m moving to get my camera and coming back is essential. I like to leave my ISO on the higher side when I’m indoors, and then quickly raise or lower the shutter speed. I determine my aperture depending on how much light I need, or how much context is needed to tell the story clearly. In the below image, I wasn’t afraid to go low on my shutter speed because it was such a slow moment. I also wanted to have my aperture a little higher because I didn’t want the baby to be too blurry.

ISO 8000 35mm 3.5 1/125

2. Embrace the mess

My second tip is to embrace the mess and remember the reason you’re taking the photo in the first place. A grainy picture or a messy living room are okay because that is where these real life moments are happening. For me, the reason I’m taking the photos isn’t to win an award, but to show that each member in the family is important and that their presence in our lives is invaluable. So getting photos of my family interacting with one another is huge for me. I want them to see themselves as part of the whole and loved by one another.

3. Patience is a virtue

When I’m taking photos, I’m always looking to show their personality. So my next tip is to be patient. Some moments happen fast, and some moments happen slowly. I’ve noticed when I’m patient and not trying to force my subject to act in a certain way, they usually will warm up to the camera. They feel like they can be themselves, and that’s when you can capture the true expressions and moments.

4. Go Wide

The environment adds so much context and interest into the story and helps draw people in. I want people to be able to connect with the story and feel like they are walking into the frame. For this reason, I love to shoot with a wide angle lens. My 20mm is on my camera 80% of the time.

5. Capture the quirky and the ridiculous

I also love to take photos of the details or quirky things, and let them tell a story of their own. For me, these detail pictures are really therapeutic. They usually don’t make me think of the person, but remind me of what the feeling of motherhood is. It helps me see the beauty in the chaos that is happening around me.

6. Get in the frame!

Don’t forget to bring yourself into these lifestyle/documentary photos. A cheap remote and a table top can get you in photos of you living your everyday life. Sometimes I’ll set up my tripod or even hand my camera over to have one of my kiddos to snap the photo. Having a remote was a huge game changer for me. You might feel silly in the moment getting into the frame, but you won’t regret it a few years from now. You’ll love having the photos that show that you were there too.

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