Hi, I’m Polly, a natural light lifestyle photographer who specialises in portraits of families, children and babies. I’m really excited to join the Enfants Terribles Mag team as editor. My first assignment is to run a mini crash course in photography, to share some tips and ideas with you all, so you, yourselves, can capture once more through fresh eyes.
Like many creative art forms, photography is very instinctive – once you understand the basics you can really hone your skills and get better and better with practice. I speak from experience here as 5 years ago I was comfortable shooting on automatic and now I am a professional portrait photographer and only ever shoot in fully manual mode, both in digital and on film.
What makes a great Photograph?
When I get behind my lens I see the world differently, I notice the little things that would otherwise pass me by. Photography has made me appreciate there is beauty all around us, even in the most ordinary of scenes. I’m a firm believer that the best photographs should stir up feelings inside of you; joy, wonder, hope, fulfilment, wanderlust, sadness… whatever the emotion, they should make you feel it.
As photographers, we can write our own stories, record and document our lives, preserve the most precious of moments as well as the most mundane. I’m not talking about documenting these things for instagram or other social media channels. I mean doing it for ourselves. When we’re old and grey one day, we’ll want to flip back through images of times past, to be transported, to re-live, just for a second, the joy in those moments, our moments.
This week's tip: Notice THE beauty all around you
Whilst understanding the technical side is important to good photography, it is by no means what makes a great photographer. Having an eye for what makes a lovely picture is much more important. So for the first post in the series, I’m going to talk about being an observer. I want to encourage you all to be open, to take your time, to notice the little things that surround you all the time.
All of the images below are simple moments, they're natural and unposed and they occur in our everyday lives. As the photographer of each of these images I acted as observer not conductor. I didn't orchestrate these scenes or try to direct them, I simply watched and waited and when the moment arose, I pressed shoot. I think this practice of observing on the edge of the action is so important when photographing children. Children make magic just as they are without us having to intervene or encourage. Provided you are observant, patient and have your camera or phone close by, the most ordinary moments will appear before you're eyes and you'll see the wonder within them.
Look beyond the smile
Part of being a good observer is resisting the temptation to ask your child to look at the camera and smile for you. It's hard, I know. because as their parent you know how happy it makes you to see them smile. But my golden rule for photographing kids is never tell a child to smile. If you do, you'll likely get a fake, toothy grin and not their spontaneous beautiful beam or quiet daydreamer's smile. For me, natural expressions, especially natural smiles, are the ones that move you the most. I often find the images that entrance me the most are the ones where the subject isn't looking to camera but instead caught up in their own moment, in their own little world. Sometimes it's the thoughtful faces, the daydreaming gazes or the silly expressions that capture the most spirit.
So that's it for this week. I'll come on to more technical style tips in the series but I wanted to get you started with a mindset as a photographer. I truly believe everyone can change the way they start to notice potential shots and if you do so you'll become a better photographer. If you look for it, and you feel it in your bones, then you’re one step closer to capturing it.