March has been a long month and it looks like April may get longer. I’m sitting here in lounge pants (because who needs to be fancy when you can’t leave your house except for a random walk) and missing documenting all of the moments in my client’s love stories during these strange times. I first fell in love with photography as I would pour over old images my parents had saved from my grandparents and great grandparents. These images documented moments in time. They brought me back to a time in history and made it real. I wanted to do that for people.
Photographers are Non-Essential but Pictures are…
Right now, photographers and so many other businesses are not operating because we are considered “non-essential”. While I understand the social responsibility portion of this… I’m thinking about my grandchildren and yours too. Someday, there will be questions… “Did you live through that?” “What was it like to stay home for a full month?” I want to be able to grab a photo book that documents these moments thanks to Corona and share it with them. Much like pictures from the dust bowl tell a story to you and I today.
Taking pictures brings a reality to a situation, a gravity to it. During these times, I can’t be going out capturing your families on your porches or documenting birthdays. That doesn’t mean you can’t capture these strange times. You are absolutely capable of documenting moments within your family and I want you to! Why? Because these may be important some day.
But Mary Elizabeth… I have a cell phone camera not a real camera. How am I supposed to get any beautiful images with that? You would be surprised at how many gorgeous images have been captured and moments documented with just a cell phone camera. For an easy guide to do this you can go here!
What I’m really concerned with is you making sure that at the end of this time in our lives we have documented what this looks like for our families and ourselves. Afterall, we are spending a lot of time at home… We might as well be creative!
Where to Start
Perhaps you are like me and you crave routine. So even in these days of Stay-at-Home orders, you need to get up and do things in an orderly way. I feel you. You could also be like my husband who sees this as an excellent reason to sleep in even later. His introvert self might be enjoying this all a little too much. No matter what your style is… You start with what matters most.
For me, that means I’m taking a lot of pictures of my family. I take my camera with me on our daily walk – that thirty minutes of fresh air as we walk around our neighborhood is my favorite time of day right now. What shocked me is that my husband will most of the time join us, along with our dogs. This time has become something special and a moment where we get to bond.
I’m also capturing the growth of my garden. We have gardened every year, albeit a little half-assed. This year it seems more important and the whole family is getting in on the care of our seedlings. Watching them sprout up is definitely fulfilling. I also see this as a year where my children could really become more aware of what it takes to create food. I want to document these moments for my family because this is a time of change.
It really doesn’t matter what you start with – from board games to cooking to cleaning up the yard – this is your story. You get to choose how to tell it.
Tips to Get you Going
A few things you should pay attention to as you grow and create more images…
– Light – You need light from some source to create a balanced photo. In a dark room, you could capture your child or dog looking out of the window. By coming to the side you can view their features, from behind you create a silhouette. In broad day light you may blow out your picture, most newer camera phones will allow you to adjust your aperture – pop it up higher and you will be able to adjust how much light is in your image.
– Composition – Photographers are taught to pay attention to the rule of thirds. Your eyes will begin at the left of the image and naturally move to the right. When you compose your image, have the big piece the “pop” be towards the right side.
– Frames – Pay attention to what is in your frame. Things that are unimportant can also be potentially distracting. Try to stand in such a way that the only things in your images are the things that you want to see when you look at it later.
– Tell a story – Throughout my career and when I am capturing my family I want my images to tell a story. What were we doing? How did we feel? I already know that when I look back on these weeks (I’m praying it’s not going to be months) that I will smile fondly at the walks. It only took a global pandemic for our family to walk together – something I’ve been asking for us to do for YEARS.
Mary Elizabeth Fabian is a photographer and storyteller based in Colorado who travels the world capturing moments. She is also a featured sponsor of Global Learn Day – through which she mentors teens to improve their photography skills. She believes that every moment carries a bit of magic with it and loves to capture that for others.
Right now, she is quarantined in her home, watching countless cooking shows, drinking gallons of coffee and capturing the simple joys of family life. If you are interested in a photography mentorship, feel free to email! You can follow her 366 in 2020 posts on her family instagram account @3.times.blessed and see how she captures daily life.