Think about the gift of Photography

My son’s gift to his wife this Christmas will be five framed 16×20 photographs of him and their two young daughters.

I’ll start by saying that although I can’t think of any better gift than the gift of photography, and even though I always do commissions this time of year, I don’t push my photography on friends and family.  They all know I make pictures for a living, and am pretty good at it, and if they bring it up I am ready and willing, but I am tend to be silent the rest of the time.  Photography for me is the same as any other art displayed in a person’s home, and although there are large photographs on the walls of my home I do realize other people might have other tastes as to just what art is.

I could not have been more pleased when my son called me with his request. We decided to meet at our place in Pritchard and stroll through the wooded area across the road, and spend time taking pictures of the two granddaughters and of him. We wandered the trails of my son’s childhood through the woods, climbed on deadfalls, peaked around trees, ran up and down hills, stood overlooking the river valley behind and had lots of fun until we all tired out. The children loved the experience.  Then with the promise of hot chocolate we turned around and counted our steps home.  All this time I took pictures.

When I photograph children I am never in a hurry. I don’t try to coax a smile by saying, “smile at me”, because unlike adults most children haven’t spent any time practicing in front of a mirror smiling. They don’t know what to do and what usually comes is a face with a wide mouth full of tightly clenched teeth. I just talk a lot, get them to talk back, find many different places to pose, sitting or standing, and take enough time; and because I make sure they are having fun getting their pictures taken I will get relaxed poses, laughs, and smiles in my pictures.  I recognize that generally the first pictures won’t be the best, but who cares? I am shooting digital and just delete those I don’t like and keep taking pictures.

I don’t carry lots of equipment, just a camera with a medium-sized zoom lens and I don’t like long lenses like a 70-200 because I would be to far away from my subjects; I want to the session to be intimate and face-to-face, so for my granddaughter’s pictures I used my 24-70mm, and of course, as always, I used a flash.

There are times that I like off-camera flash and there are times when I keep my flash attached with a bracket that lifts it about eight inches above my camera. This was one of those times, as we were constantly moving. However, I easily could remove the flash whenever I wanted to change the light’s direction.

Modern technology is great. When we returned home I loaded all the pictures into my computer and we sat down to quickly review them all and made our selections. I usually do that by having people select the ones they like first. I moved them into another folder, and then I do the same again and again, moving the best to a new folder. Our goal was to end up with five pictures to be converted to black and white with a slight sepia tint, and then make into 11×14 inch prints.  That size fits perfectly in a 16×20 matt that will finally be displayed behind glass in 16×20 inch brushed silver frames.  I think my daughter-in-law will like this gift from her husband.

This is a good time for photographers to think about their personal photography as Christmas gifts.  I talk with many photographers that make statements like “photography is my passion”, but they never do anything with their pictures except posting them online, or showing them to others from their cell phones.  I see photography the same way I see any other artwork and am disappointed when I visit a photographer’s home and don’t see his/her photographs on the walls.

Are any of you planning on giving your photography as a gift?