fiddle leaf photography
May 28, 2018
Lately, I’ve had quite a few clients tell me that they were surprised how little I click the shutter during a session. I think it’s really interesting to hear, because from my side of the camera, my mind is always thinking and anticipating, and the click of the shutter is such a small part of photography. But, I know sometimes people expect me to come in like the paparazzi and shoot thousands of frames in a few hours. How I shoot a session couldn’t be more opposite than that. In fact, in an average newborn session, I shoot around 250-300 frames and generally deliver 50-70 images in a final gallery. Getting a great image is about everything that leads up to that click. The planning, anticipating the moment, the light, the composition, the moment and THEN the click. During a session, my brain never ever stops thinking and I often come home from a session absolutely mentally exhausted as I’ve been on overdrive for a few hours.
If we’re going to talk about making better images, we can talk about gear, and editing, and about a million and one other things, but to me, one of the biggest skills that result in stronger is images is patience.
Waiting quietly while scenes unfold in front of you can be a really challenging thing to do. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to get as many images out of a scene as you can and to move around like a squirrel so that you look busy and like you know exactly what you’re doing. But to know a moment is coming and just keep the camera up to your face and watch it all unfold is a skill unto itself and is one that will result in capturing the authentic emotion and natural expressions in images.
Even if you’re not into taking photos yourself, I thought you might find it interesting to see how an image can go from ho-hum to a strong image just by waiting. And if you’ve had a session with me in the past and have wondered what I’m doing while I’m crouching behind your sofa while you look at your newborn babe or play LEGO with your kiddos, now you know that I’m waiting for that magic moment.
Let’s break this down with a few examples…
I was making brownies with my youngest daugther and I had my camera nearby (this is another thing….have your camera nearby so when anticipate a great moment is coming, you can be ready). The brownies were in the oven and I told Willa she could lick the bowl. She doesn’t do anything half-heartedly and she went to town on that bowl.
She started out looking just a bit awkward and was giving me some strange expressions, and so I waited. I didn’t give her any direction at all – I was just quietly standing nearby. Normally I wouldn’t be taking photos through this as I’d be just waiting with my finger on the shutter, but for this example, here’s the series of images that went from blah to a ‘keeper’ image.
And here’s the final edited image in the series, where she had stopped looking at me, was completely focused on the spatula and licking her lips – all at the same time. THIS is what I was waiting for.Here’s another example from the beach last week.
I was sitting on the sand and my girls were busy building sandcastles. I was after a photo of my older daughter building but wanted it to be more interesting than just her and the sand (truth: I already had about 10 like that!). My other daughter was beside me so I used her body to help frame and to also show that she was there with us. The boys in the background were other people at the beach who we didn’t know, but I was aware of them in my frame and wanted to make sure they weren’t doing anything strange that would ruin my image or would require me to clone them out after the fact.
Here’s the final, edited image. I was waiting for Finley to change how she was sitting as I felt that her knees looked awkward and I was also waiting for her to look up a bit so that I could catch some light on her face under the hat. I was also waiting for Willa to lean forward or move her body just slightly as I knew her out of focus face would be distracting.
Even if you’re just out there with your iPhone this summer, capturing your family’s adventures, don’t be afraid to wait for the moment. Kids move fast, and so sometimes you might miss what you were after, but more times than not, you’ll end up with a more intentional image that has all the right elements to make it magical.