10 Tips To Successfully Documenting Everyday Life | Indiana Lifestyle Photographer

A new personal project I am working on this year is to better document everyday life of my family. A recent article I read inspired me to do this, and I thought it would be a great series of tips to share here as well. So be watching for all 10 tips and hopefully it will inspire some of you to document your life!

—>Tip #1:
Learn your camera. Whether you have a DSLR or are just using your camera phone, you need to learn how to properly use it to capture those fleeting moments. Do research to learn tricks or tips to improve your skill. The better you know the camera you are using, the better your images will be.

Here is one of my recent “everyday life” images…

—>Tip #2: 
Evaluate and learn the lighting in your home. Like many families, inside your home is where most of your life takes place. I would say more times than not, you are indoors with your family (esp. for those of us in cold winter climates). Learn to embrace the light you have (or don’t have) and use it to your advantage. You may find some lighting more dramatic than others, and some to be lighter and more interesting. If you don’t have much natural light coming in through windows, then learn how the artificial light in your home looks on your subjects. Does it create harsh shadows on them, or is it soft and even? Then use what you have learned from the different light patterns to your advantage. You will find that you will prefer certain types of lighting over others.
For me, I LOVE all the natural light that I get coming into our large living room windows. The day i read this article, it was cold and I was curled up on the couch, but the sun was shining bright and beaming through the windows. It was that light that inspired me to do this project. I also know that I HATE the lighting in our kitchen. It is basically 6 flood lights, and the harsh, directly above light on a subject is awful!

These big windows are on 2 of the main walls in our living room – i love the natural light they provide. This was a rare moment for this child – he hardly ever plays video games, but it was cold, and Christmas break wink emoticon

—>Tip #3:
Get Creative with your composition and perspective. Instead of always shooting your subjects straight on, look for a unique angle, frames from nature or buildings, and negative space. Use color to compose your shot, zoom in or out, or move above or below your subject. If you are shooting with a DSLR, play around with your aperture to see how it affects the feel and mood of your image.

With this image of our pet cat, I got down to his level and used negative space to frame him. I also chose this perspective because I loved how the light fell across him.

—>Tip #4:

Capture the details! The details that you want to remember once your kids are grown adults. Do they have a favorite toy? Do they have a certain habit like sucking their thumb or wearing certain types or items of clothes? What are their interests and hobbies? What about a certain physical feature that he or she may have? Find those details that make your children and family unique, and find a way to capture them to tell your story.

He has loved Legos for years (we seriously have thousands and thousands of them), and he really enjoys the Lego Club magazine. He was reading this issue as part of his daily reading homework assignment.

—>Tip #5:

Observe without expectations. Be an observer of your family without asking them to perform, pose, or even look at you. Most of you with children already know that you never know what will happen from one minute to the next. Be ready to capture whatever may come, yet patient to get the moments that will catch you breathless.

Since starting this project, I have been keeping my camera charged, and ready, and within reach on my kitchen counter, instead of with the rest of my photography equipment downstairs. I also told my children when I started, that when I have my camera out, they don’t have to stop what they are doing to look at me, to just keep doing their thing. (They are pretty programmed to look at mom and pay attention when I have the camera out – lol). I still have to remind them occasionally as I have been doing this project, but I suspect it will get more natural as time goes on. P was on the floor yesterday working on his homework (which he hates, but wasn’t complaining about it), so I figured I better grab that moment!

—>Tip #6:

Connect! I want to be able to capture connections between others, and also my connection with my subjects. Capture the moment in a way that the viewer feels something when they look at that image. Find ways to capture those true expressions and moods that gives that subject LIFE. I want to preserve the connections we have with each other, how we relate to each other, and how we love each other – the connections between each other that make your family special and unique.

While the twins definitely have their own unique bond, these 2 have a bond of their own. Not sure if its just the brotherly bond, or some other magnetic attraction, but they are ALWAYS near each other (and sometimes practically sitting on top of each other). Even when they are playing different games, they are together, and talking to each other, and showing each other different things. And when we are out in public, its usually these two that I have to separate to make sure they behave!

—>Tip #7: 
Do not forget portraits! Portraits are a great addition to your family album, whether they are indoor by window light, or outside with a beautiful natural background. These portraits don’t have to be the typical look at me and smile kind. They can and should be intimate images that show your family members personalities. Everyone has many personality traits, such a fun, loud, energetic, quiet, timid, mild, or somewhere in between. Find a way to capture this in a portrait to preserve that quality about them.

I love trying to capture my kids personalities. I enjoy looking at an image, and being able to say – “Yep, thats {insert name}! He always does that when……” Here is P’s “really mom?” look – lol

—>Tip #8:
Don’t wait for Special Occasions! So many people wait to photograph their families at special occasions such as vacations, birthdays, or special events. And most don’t think their everyday life is worthy of being added to the family album, but it is. Its the things in our everyday life that we most often forget, but most often want to remember. There is so much LIFE that goes on in your home on a daily basis – choose to capture it and make it special!

The boys were in their jammies, ready for bed, but they always enjoy watching funny videos that dad finds online.

—>Tip #9:
Let them be kids! Capture life in the chaotic form that it is – messy and imperfect, but yet, with so much beauty. Plan activities that your children enjoy doing, to start capturing them in their most authentic stages. Once you start doing this, then you will see more of those moments in your everyday life. Some of your most loved images will be because you captured your child doing what they love – just being a child.
I love this image (although technically its pretty imperfect – I hate gym lighting). But T is playing basketball for school this year and is loving it (and its becoming quite the learning experience for him).

—>Tip #10: 
Keep picking up your camera! You images will continue to improve the more you keep taking pictures. Even when you have days that don’t seem worth capturing, do it anyway. Find the beauty in each day and the love that fills your home. Challenge yourself with personal projects – like a Project 365, or less challenging, a Project 52. Just find a way to keep yourself inspired and to keep picking up your camera!

I shared this image on my IG feed the other day(go follow me if you haven’t already: chrisnewby_milestonesphoto). I don’t think I picked up my big camera that day, but had to capture this moment with C. I was out walking and he was riding his bike, and the sunset was amazing!

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