Thursday, July 14, 2011

Which Camera for Family Photojournalism?

Recently, we received the question: "Can (insert camera here) be used to shoot Family Photojournalism?"

The answer is a resounding YES, regardless of which camera you own or use!

While you may use literally ANY camera, I primarily use a Canon DSLR (1ds2 and 5d2) with an assortment of prime lenses. I choose to use these because it gives me a lot of flexibility when shooting in a wide variety of lighting conditions. For example, I might start photographing my family in my home early in the morning where light is low, but the scene may shift quickly as they move outside. By using a prime lens with a wide aperture setting, I do not have to change lenses when my subjects move into different light.

With that said, ANY camera will work, but there just might be some limitations. My advice would be to understand and work within the confines of those limitations. For example, if you own a Canon DSLR and the standard 18-55mm kit lens, shooting inside without flash will be difficult. Therefore you might want to opt for more outside documentation. Or if you have an old manual focus film camera, you might want to photograph your family when the are more subdued and not participating in an action packed event.

While I do prefer my Canon DSLRs, I occasionally shoot other cameras. I owned two different Leica M6 film cameras with 35mm lenses and REALLY enjoyed them. One of the limitations of the Leica M is that the lenses are manual focus. Additionally, since it is a film camera, you cannot adjust your ISO on the fly. Posted below is one of my favorite sets from last summer. The photos were taken while we were on vacation. We decided to take a late evening beach walk. I only had about a half of the roll of film left in the Leica M6, so these are all the shots from the session. The film used was Fuji Pro 400

So, to recap, any camera will do! Now go photograph your family!



  1. Great set Chuck.
    While certainly not the preferred option, some of my fave shots were/are taken on my iphone. I would have preferred to have my DSLR but the only camera that I had available at the time was the one on my phone. I still tried to apply the same techniques that I would with a dslr and any imitations/quirks to my advantage. The end result is that I now have photo/s that I love.
    Your post just re-enforces the 'its not the gear its the guy' motto that I have to keep repeating in my head

    Thanks again

  2. Thank you again for this great blog. I've been following many for years, and this is one of my top 3.

    I have a non-photography question, well somewhat related. I'm curious how you created the collage in this post, in photoshop, indesign? What templates did you use? Is there any free resource?

    Thanks in advance!

  3. Chris, thank you! But, the Leica M is truly one of the greatest cameras ever made :) Good gear does help :)


    Thank YOU for following!

    I do not use a plug in, all done in photoshop. I make a new canvas (file > new) and set the dimensions to 8inches wide (the width of this blog) by XXinches tall by 100 resolution. Then, I just resize each individual photo that I want to use to fit. For example, if I want two vertical images next to one another, I crop each image to 4in wide by 6in tall by 100 resolution (that gives me 800px wide for both). Then I select all, copy, then paste the cropped individual image onto my new canvas. Move them to fit...flatten when done!

    Hope this helps!


  4. Chuck,

    Thank you for your prompt response! Why am I not surprised you don't use a template lol!

  5. Hi Chuck,

    Another question regarding film photography. Do you normally have the lab scan, develop and print, or do you get the digital files of the scan and post-process before you print/upload? Basically, I'm wondering if most film photographers nowadays tweak their photos digitally at all.

    Thanks again!