Monday, February 15, 2010

Getting in Front of the Camera

Most photographers, pro and amateur, will say they prefer to be behind the camera. I know I do. And it often shows in our personal work. I could almost count on one hand the number of shots I've been in over the past number of months. The same may be true of you as well. I think it might also be that we don't want to hand the camera over and stop shooting. Why? Maybe we don't think someone else could get the shot that we could get. Or maybe we just enjoy shooting and observing. Perhaps they're both true. But years from now, our children will look back on these photos and see themselves playing with your spouse/significant other and not you. If the purpose of family photojournalism/documentary is to record your family's day-to-day life in the way it really happened, you should be in there, too. Otherwise, the story is not fully told.

What I'm proposing in this post is that you begin to teach your spouse/significant other how to use your camera. Just the basics. My wife doesn't really know that much about aperture or shutter speed. She's familiar with the rule of thirds but she couldn't explain it. But she and I talk photography a lot and she's able to apply some of what we talk about. She's also looked at thousands of photos that I've taken and that cumulative knowledge has helped her to develop a sense for taking a good picture. Here are some samples that my wife has taken of me with the boys. These shots carry a lot of meaning for me.

In this shot, Isaac had been crying and fussy and wouldn't sleep. We were both pretty tired. Katie (my wife) grabbed my camera and shot a few as I bounced Isaac and tried to keep him calm. It's a really great composition, using the doorway to frame us.

As with any other time she uses my camera, I preset aperture/shutter speed/iso before she started using it. I have taught her how to change the AF points and that's about all she needs to know. The composition, she came up with. In the shot below, my son and I are playing horsie and he's "holding on tightly."

My wife clicked the shutter at the perfect moment. Timing is key and something that can be developed.

This is a variant of the earlier horsie shot.

Knowing that my wife can handle the camera (even the 1ds2, which is impressive), means I can be in shots occasionally and our family documentary work will be more complete. Some of you may have spouses/significant others who already know how to use the camera. That's awesome. For those of you who do not, teach them in little bits, be patient, and don't critique whatever they shoot. Let them learn from your mistakes and you'll be pleasantly surprised to see yourself in a photograph every now and then.

Thanks for stopping by.



  1. Thanks for running this blog and writing the articles Daniel, Chuck.

    Always a nice read.

  2. I love your blog!! Thank you sooo much for this. I found this by way of, but I'm oh SO glad I clicked on the link. I'm at work right now, but I will be bookmarking this as soon as I get home...

    Um.. Would it be okay to ask for further explanations on occasion..?

  3. Thanks Paul and Monie. Monie, you're always welcome to ask for clarification or suggest topics that you'd like to know more about.


  4. Just found your blog, and I am really enjoying it. Thanks for putting it together!