Lifestyle photography and the art of everyday photography is about documenting your daily life. This could include capturing your baby’s toothless smile, his/her first steps, the way they hold their hair or twirl their dress, first time they start to read or write, or anything that you would normally run to grab your cell phone to capture.
While smartphone cameras have gotten to be more powerful and expensive over the years; nothing beats the quality and the depth of field you can achieve with wide apertures using your DSLR. The ability to capture raw files and process them, lens interchangeability, and being able to obtain superior images under even low light conditions, are just a few of the benefits. To add, over the decade the price for an entry level DSLR has also come down significantly. So if you own a DSLR (or a mirrorless or high-end compact camera) already, why not use it to capture everyday moments in your daily life?
Here are some tips for you to capture your everyday moments with your camera.
#1 – Capture the details
Capturing the details is about focusing on what the subject is actually doing versus photographing the entire subject which can take away from the story the image is trying to tell or convey. It could be something as simple as a kid holding a flower, or the way she touches her hair or smiles, or anything for that matter.
Another key to creating extraordinary images out of the ordinary is to think about composition while considering the detail you are trying to capture. You may be focused on documenting and creating that memory that you can reflect upon. So compose your image such that the subject, in this case, the boy writing, creates stronger and meaningful image while helping you remember the story that occurred.
Another example is the image below.
This was a very simple image where he wanted to show a tiny flower he got from the garden. Again, having my camera right next to me, I quickly adjusted the settings to get the shot. I also tweaked the image a bit during post-processing to accentuate the details.
Children grow up fast and the memories in images and videos of them doing little fun things, their innocence is sometimes all we have to remember and treasure of their childhood.
#2 – Think perspective
This was an ordinary everyday moment for us. Having breakfast at the table, eating his favorite snack and just enjoying his moment. I happened to think about a different angle and took this image while he stared up at me. Straight on would have been a perfectly fine image as well, but him looking up gives the viewers something different from the usual.
Here is another image where perspective was a little different.
In this image, I found my little one sitting on the stairs and coloring away. He found that to be his comfortable spot. Using the stair rods as framing I placed my camera in between the pillars and clicked for a unique perspective. This was a very ordinary moment of a 4-year-old coloring. But having my camera on hand and using a different perspective makes this image more unique and extra special.
Perspective can be anything. Utilizing your stairs for shooting through, or having your kid looking up at you while you click to emphasize scale are some commonly used techniques that can give an added boost to your images.
3 – Open your windows and blinds and use natural light
When that fails, use alternate light sources.
The biggest challenge with indoor photography is the availability of light and being able to use your camera under different lighting conditions. The quantity and quality of light change dramatically with different sky conditions. Regardless of the sky, however, try to shoot in the available natural light while keeping your subject close to the window.
Also, consider the time of day while photographing your subjects. In the first image above, I had to increase my ISO to 400 while also trying to keep only certain parts of the image in focus. Something to remember is while a high ISO can help you with many scenarios, it can also produce a certain amount of grain in the images which may or may not be desirable, depending on the look you want.
The bigger challenge with natural light is what do you do at night when there is only artificial light available? One solution is to use a flash and bounce it off the ceiling or wall depending on how much you wish to have in your image. Another way is to actually decrease the available light in your image, use interesting available light sources as a backdrop and accentuate your subject under low lighting conditions for some extra creativity.
In the image above, all the artificial lights in the room were turned off. While he was browsing his iPad, it was the only light source illuminating his face.
In examples below, I used the lighting from the Christmas tree as my light source. I turned all the room lights off and adjusted the exposure a bit during post-processing. Another creative way to use the artificial light is to use backlighting which causes a silhouette.
In other words, use natural light as much as possible. However, when artificial lighting is all you have, use it in the best possible creative way.
#4 – Make your moments happen, don’t wait for them
Somedays, you just have to wait for a cute moment to happen. While other days, you have to create a scenario to make those adorable moments with your kids occur. In the images above, he just wanted to hang out in his room. I used that as an opportunity to let him jump on the bed, which he loved a lot, and I clicked away to capture the action and movement shots with a high shutter speed.
In the image below, I really wanted a laughing happy image of my kid without him knowing I was shooting. Hence acting natural, while he really didn’t care to do either while being engrossed with his iPad. I kept repeating certain jokes he likes until I got that laughter out of him.
In other words, it is nice to have your camera nearby when a certain moment happens for you to be able to capture it right away. However, you sometimes have to create that moment or place your subject in a place or a scene in order to achieve something you want.
#5 – Last, but not the least, carry your camera everywhere
Carrying your camera everywhere you go will ensure that you do not miss out on documenting key moments in your kids’ lives. Can you imagine carrying only your cell phone to your son’s soccer game and ending up with a blurry image?
Documenting and creating a memory book or printing out a family album with images you created that are clean, crisp and not blurry is a special feeling of its own. Having your DSLR with you while learning the basics will help you to document key events in your own life and ensure they remain for generations to come.
In conclusion, just a few simple techniques in understanding composition, lighting, while also applying the above tips will help you create stronger images. Lifestyle photography and the art of capturing the everyday moments using your DSLR instead of your cell phone gives you an extra layer of that creative edge while still documenting moments that you usually would either way.