Capture just one great shot

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Almost everyone who attends Photo Camp has a desire to “capture the moment.”  When suddenly there is a spontaneous couch fort being constructed in the the living room or the toddler is sitting innocently in a pile of toilet paper pulled off the roll in the bathroom, folks describe feeling ill equipped to confidently and quickly grab the shot.  Does this resonate with you?

Certainly having enough confidence in our photography ability that we can decisively document the moment every time is ideal, but what if we let ourselves off the hook a bit and took a different approach to telling our family story?  Is it possible to take a more proactive approach to getting the shot?

I’m trying this experiment more and more with my own family.  Although, I don’t want to forget these fleeting moments of childhood, I also don’t want to be behind the camera all the time.  After the last big snow, Liam spent hours building snow caves in our front yard.  My tendency would be to record the whole process from start to finish.   This time, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself  to capture ONE shot that would tell this story with the most impact.  So instead of observing the process from behind the camera, I grabbed a shovel and shared the experience with Liam.  And as I shoveled and shoveled and shoveled,  I brainstormed the different ways I could document this memory.  Later that evening when Liam asked to take his lantern outside and check out his snow cave in the dark,  I knew that was my shot.

It may seem like a small shift, but it has been a significant one for me.  A small change in approach that I feel has made my photographs stronger and increased my engagement with my kids.  Here are a few tips for capturing just ONE compelling shot:

1) Take notice. What are the things your kids are doing that define this stage of their lives? What is the small moment in time that you most want to remember from this stage?

2) Put some thought into planning how to document the activity.  What kind of lighting choices do you have available? How do you want to compose the image? Will it be in color or black and white?

3) Stay focused.  When it comes time to pull out the camera and capture your image, try not to get distracted by all the other potential images you could take.  Just stay focused on getting the ONE shot you’ve planned and doing it well.

4) Try a few compositions.  It may take many frames with slight variations to nail it. Let yourself tweak small things like angle, distance from your subject, and crop.

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