It’s the weekend! And it’s arrived a day early. A four day week. No home school. No weekend photoshoots for this Surrey Family Photographer. And the sun is set to shine. Hurrah! This weekend marks VE Day; 75 years since the end of the war in Europe. The corona virus outbreaks mean that in Guildford, Surrey there will be no parades, street parties or open air concerts. The beautiful blooms growing in Guildford Castle grounds will bob their heads whilst standing shoulder to shoulder but the rest of us will have to celebrate at a ‘safe distance’. Here is a schedule of the days activities if you fancy joining in.
Some of you may not feel like breaking out the bunting but if you do one thing this weekend break dig out the camera. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dan camera – the one on your phone can do the job just as well. But make sure you take some pictures. They don’t have to be of “flag waving, red white and blue, scone eating gloriousness”. You just need to photograph what is important to you. The tomato plants you have cultivated from seed, the children you have painstakingly home schooled, the flowers you have picked, walls you have lovingly painted, the neighbours you have run the shopping gauntlet for or the birds you have watched chirp that little bit louder.
This may be the last weekend of lockdown as we know it so now is the time to help preserve those memories. These are unprecedented times. So let’s take some pics. Here are some top tips of how to get the best pictures this bank holiday weekend.
Play with your camera
Before you start taking some pictures have a play about with your camera or phone. Experiment with portrait mode if you have it. This blurs the background a little. Learn how to change the light meter so that the photo is correctly exposed. On Iphones it is the yellow square with the sun emblem next to it. Slide it up and down to see how it alters your photo. Use the auto edit button (magic wand) to see what it does to the picture and try editing with a few filters. Not those awful skin softening ones – filters that enhance the light and depth of your picture. Now have a think about what or who you are going to photograph.
It doesn’t matter what camera you have or whether you are using a phone to take pictures. Just take them. The beauty of the digital world is that if you don’t like them you can just smile, click, delete, repeat. Take your time though – it’s tempting to just fire off a squillion pictures. But there is no need to be a perfectionist. This is about getting some beautiful photographs to look back on and remember this time.
Find the light
The first thing to do is to start looking at your home and garden. Here in Surrey we have the most beautiful early evening light at the moment. So have a good look and find where the light is pretty. Is there gentle dappled light coming through a window, or patterns of the sunshine on the floor? You aren’t looking for really bright sunshine as that won’t photograph too well but early morning or late afternoon sun is very flattering. If you can’t find little pockets of light in your home then head to your nearest window or in a shady part of the garden. Get some lovely light on your little ones face, plants or subject. Encourage them to turn in a a circle and see where the light looks best on their face. Try it yourself first with your phone on ‘selfie’ mode and you will see what a different a good bit of light makes to the shadows under your eyes and your skin tone.
Turn off any artificial light and make sure you don’t have a flash on your phone or camera. This is not the look we are after. Now is time for a little clear up. Where you find the light beautiful take some time to hide wires, etc and anything that doesn’t add to the photo, get it out of the way.
For some children this will be one of the happiest times in their lives. At home. With the people they love. Just pottering about and playing in the garden. Happy days. They don’t need to look at the camera. You might lose the moment. Just capture them as they are.
Level up – eye to eye
Make sure you are at the same height as your children. See the world from their perspective. You can encourage them look up a little if you are in a window – it helps their eyes catch the glorious blue skies. Or you can shoot over them (hold on tight so you don’t drop your phone or camera on their lovely little faces). And if you can – get in the frame too. Prop you camera up on a stool or some books, set a timer and go give a gentle hug. You too can have a front door photo without worrying about social distancing and whether it is the right thing to do. You don’t have to look at the camera. Look at your kids. Connection in photographs is my everything.
Give your children something to do. Mine don’t listen to a word I say if I try and direct them when trying to take pictures or they just sit there grinning like Cheshire cats. This is the not the look we are going for. We want beautiful, natural photographs, happy little smiles, documenting your children doing what they do best. Capturing the magic of your family at home.
So take a step back and take some pictures peeking through the front door or from behind a few green leaves the garden. Capture those little hands colouring in bunting, playing with sand or dipped in the paddling pool, whatever your activity is!
You will probably find that your kids won’t stay still for long so give them a movement activity to do. Hmmm…. we always jump up and down on our bed. Or twirl about in the kitchen. The light is great and it’s fun! Stick some music on and get your camera at the ready!
And finally. Enjoy it. It can be incredibly therapeutic to create something. Art and wellness often go hand in hand. So relax, Take a deep breath and involve yourself in something beautiful.
I hope you have a fun bank holiday weekend. Get out, enjoy the sunshine and take some pictures. I would love to see how you get on.
Happy lockdown bank holiday!