Photography: Capturing variety in your photos

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A not-so-happy snap

Scrapbooking and photo albums are about preserving life’s memories in a creative and enjoyable way.  One of the things I love most of all is to use a variety of pictures – not just the posed happy snaps depicting the Utopian Pleasantville family life …. but the random, the funny, the interesting, the inspiring, the beautiful and even the sad.

You wouldn’t want to turn the pages of your album or scrapbook and have all of them look the same.  You want variety.  Variety in setting, in facial expressions, in motivation, in colour, of emotions, and a variety in the reactions that you inevitably have to each page as a result.

This is just a quick example of some ways to get thinking about variety when taking your pictures.

Selfies

Let’s start here.  Everyone, after all, knows what a selfie is.  They are pictures taken by us, with the lens turned around to capture ourselves.  But even the humble selfie is not immune to monotony.

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The Fit-Mum Selfie … designed to tout one’s accomplishments and generally shame others
  • Try including other people in your picture
  • Take the picture from a different angle
  • Don’t take selfies in front of the same bathroom mirror endlessly – unless you are specifically aiming for some kind of comparison montage …. mix up the backgrounds and settings
  • Use selfies to record special events or accomplishments (which includes putting on a nice dress, for those of us who have 4 kids and a business and never manage to get out anywhere nice) … special events do not normally include getting out of bed or pulling faces in the mirror.  Well, not always.
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The Family Selfie … different angle, multiple subjects, later afternoon lighting
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The brand new baby selfie
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The “I’m hot, heading out on the town and did eye make-up for the first time in 2 years & dug the contact lenses out of a bathroom drawer” selfie …. NOT taken in front of a mirror
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The Photobomb selfie

“Set the Scene” Photos

Some photos can be useful for establishing a scene.  It can be a landscape, a room view or just one of those panoramic pictures our iPhones can take.

Background Photos

For crafters, sometimes we need those ‘arty’ type photos to use as fillers.  Or for those who do PhotoBooks online, you may often need photos to act as backgrounds to your pages.  I’ve only ever completed one PhotoBook so far, but I find myself collecting these background photos and archiving copies of them as such on my computer.

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Not just Smiles!

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Epic beach time tantrum

As cruel as it may sound toward the children in our lives who are already subjected to endless photo opportunities, don’t get stuck forcing them into smiles and “Cheese!!!” in every single photo.  If they are crying and having a tantrum – snap a photo of it.  They can make unexpectedly cute pictures, and in years to come they will become valuable ammunition for those 21st birthday slide show montages.  The picture at the top of this blog is one such example, and just for fun, here is another:

Craft Projects

Well obviously!  Our craft projects are very often the result of many hours of work and are something to be proud of.  This blog contains hundreds of examples.  Try to take a whole-project photo as well as a few that are close-ups of particular points of interest on the piece.  Hanging up a child’s painting or drawing on the fridge is always a sign of admiration, but every now and again I get my kids to hold up their pieces for a photo.  I tell them I want to remember that drawing forever and they are very chuffed.  It can also save a lot of tears if said drawing is forcefully removed from said fridge by an active toddler bent on redecorating.

Milestones & Achievements

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Nicholas poses in his classroom with some “Sight Words” Awards

Amongst all the other noise of everyday life, we can’t forget to have the camera at the ready for those special little moments that mark a milestone or achievement to be savoured and enjoyed.  Baby’s first tooth, school athletics carnivals, school awards, the big holidays, travels, first day of school, etc.  Sometimes I make little signs to put in the picture as a personalised touch, especially if the pictures are being scrapbooked or shared on social media.

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Emmy poses with a handmade “5 months today” sign

Besides the big events, other achievements can include anything that you might be happy with or proud of.  Home building and decorating projects are a good example, and others might include a top academic grade, a nicely wrapped Christmas present, an exciting gift that you gave/received/made, an item of furniture that you put together or made yourself, a homemade batch of baby food, an arrangement of flowers or really anything that you might be wanting to remember or share.  Why shouldn’t you be proud of your hard work?  It’s nice to scrapbook pictures that aren’t just travel or kids related.  It gives us an opportunity to show off what we’ve done and journal our story of how it was done. I’ve included a couple of examples below of the things I like to take pictures of myself.

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Baby #4’s newly decorated (and newly built) bedroom
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A particularly well set dinner table that I was proud of … I really enjoy making dinner a special event for my family at least once a fortnight.  This evening was a Norwegian Smorgasbord dinner that has become a family favourite!
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A set of cube shelves that we built ourselves in our front room
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My Christmas present wrappings from Christmas 2015

Food

Hmmm…. This is a tricky one.  But then again, not really.

People take photos of food left, right, and centre … and there is nothing wrong with that when it’s done a certain way.  Pictures of half-eaten dinner that looks like a dogs’ leftovers is not appealing to social media followers; nor is it fun when others post a picture of every dinner they’ve ever made, every single night.  It can also get a bit much when bloggers post a photo of every single entree they’ve ever been served at all the cafes they visit on their holiday.  But a photo of an especially pretty or unusual restaurant meal, or a proud photo of a well set table, or a snap of some yummy cookies fresh from the oven are perfectly acceptable.  I am lucky enough at present to own the best bakery and patisserie in my hometown, so I have extra opportunities to take yummy food photos!

Silly Moments

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The day I got stuck in an elevator at University

In the theme of impressing the importance of avoiding an entire album or scrapbook full of purely posed and smiling photos, it is also fun to take pictures of the things that make us smile each day.  For scrappers, they provide great opportunities for inventive journaling captions; for photo albums they allow us to write memorable descriptions; and they can also become social conversation pieces when posted on social media or framed on our walls or mantle pieces.

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Baby’s first taste of solid foods

Selfies with my kids, pulling funny faces or mocking their silly tantrums are some of my favourites.  Others include the funny things kids inevitably do each day, and those little moments that you manage to catch just at the right second.  I’m a firm believer in finding the positive in any situation … taking a picture of the bad times, or mistakes, which make you laugh later as you look back on them, is a good way to turn negatives into a positive.  Not a bad excuse for photography!

A favourite of mine is pictured below, when my middle son stacked the dishwasher for us.  A small and simple thing, but the picture brings us such entertainment and joy every time we look at it and remember what he did that day.  It was fun to share on social media and will provide great ammunition for a 21st birthday slide show one day!

 

Action Shots

Taking photos of finished projects is good, but action shots taking during the process are also a good way to chronicle achievements.  They can make a photo album or scrapbooking layout more interesting, giving your journaling story an illustration.  Others can include a series of photos that show cause & effect (actions & consequences), or a funny moment as it unfolds.  The picture below shows a happy photo I took of my baby girl while eating a teething rusk (the teething process has been a bothersome one for her) …. but the effort she exerted was so great, she literally passed out mid-rusk about 20 minutes later, which was when I took the second photo.

These other photos include my boys clearing out our garden, at the start of their fort-building project …. and Mamma (me) doing some face painting on the boys one Sunday afternoon.

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These tips and examples are not designed to be an exhaustive list, of course.  But they should get the creativity flowing.  Think outside the box when taking photos.  It doesn’t necessarily require you to take 300 photos per day, or to have a camera or phone in your hand at all times.  I probably get mine out 2-3 times per day at most.  But I like to chronicle our family life so this is how I do it without getting stuck in monotony.  I am by no means a professional photographer.  Many of these photos were taken on my iPhone 6S, and most of them were saved from my Facebook page posts over the past few months.  In that short space of time I managed to take a wide enough variety of pictures to write this blog.  There are more ideas to share, but more than likely in a follow-up blog post in weeks to come.

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