Have you ever wondered how to take better pictures – especially of your own family? Over time I have come to believe there are two different types of photos. One is an image you want to archive and treasure forever. The other is one that simply makes you feel good when remembering a fantastic memory. (The two can overlap at times.)
Understanding this will help you take better photos of your own family.
How do you differentiate between a photo that is a treasure and one that is for good memories alone? And what do you do with them when you realize which category they fall into?
I have spent years looking and preserving my own family’s pictures. I have culled through hundreds of these photographs spanning multiple generations. This has taught me how to make an educated choice on which ones need to be retouched/reprinted/preserved and which ones simply don’t meet the mark of being a treasure for future generations.
Here are the common traits I found among the treasure pictures :
Above picture – This is a picture of our oldest daughter taken in our backyard one Summer. It was not staged. Her bathing suit had vibrant colors and the little plastic pool was not aesthetically pleasing. But, because it was in nature and taken in black/white – this ended up being a treasure image of this particular Summer.
Above Picture – This is a photo that I found of my Dad’s mother at a local swimming hole she grew up going to. I loved it so much we have it framed in our home. I want you to see how similar this image and the one before of my oldest daughter are, though they are generations apart. This picture was snapped quickly but ended up looking like a piece of art because of how it was positioned in nature.
I. They were taken in nature.
School performance photos, your first day of college photos or your random cannonball off the side of the pool photos don’t typically make it into the treasure category. I found that almost all of the treasure photos were taken in nature at a swimming hole, climbing a tree, running on the beach or exploring a new place. Nature is the perfect backdrop because it is in and of itself timeless.
Above picture – My sister will kill me for showing this picture, but as a photographer I see that I underexposed it and that could make me not like it. But I love this one of her because her facial expression is HER. Relaxed, free and that dimple. Good grief. While this picture may not win awards, the feeling of SEEING HER when I look at it makes it a treasure for me.
Above picture – This is one of my favorite pictures to date. The oldest boy is not smiling, the youngest boy has his arm down his mother’s shirt but it is for all those reasons that I love it so much. This was the season of motherhood this mama was in. This was not staged but taken in between pictures, if that makes sense. This ended up being one of hers and my favorites from our session.
II. They were intimate in feeling.
If the photograph wasn’t taken in nature, then I noticed the nature of the photo was intimate. A mother rocking a child next to a window – captured by a family member when she wasn’t expecting it. A husband holding his wife’s hand in their old car. When the feeling of intimacy was present, it didn’t seem to matter the environment because the nature of the photo itself was enough.
So what about the fun images that we love because it reminds us of good times?
These photos are wonderful in helping your brain recall good memories but they are not the ones you want to spend the money on to have them printed on archival paper – and you won’t take them to be custom framed.
A few ways I love displaying these types of photos is hanging them on the refrigerator, compiling them into a Chatbooks, printing them out and putting them into a slide in album, creating a cheap yearly calendar using 12 of them, ordering a fun coffee mug with these on – these are just a few ideas!
Next time you wonder how to take better pictures, think about these two elements – position it in nature or make the nature of the photo one of intimacy.