Santa Fe New Mexico Family and Children Photographer – David Moore» Blog Archive » Feeling is everything

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This is the photography blog for photographer and writer David Moore. He's based in Santa Fe, New Mexico but speaks with a funny accent.

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    December 20th, 2010

    Feeling is everything

    You want to get great photos of your kids? Remember just one thing:
    Feeling is everything.

    If your pictures communicate real emotion, then it doesn’t matter if they’re not perfectly exposed, or if the background has some clutter – they’re still a hundred times better than a perfectly composed and beautifully shot image that doesn’t communicate anything.

    You can only capture that feeling if the kid is feeling it. A genuinely happy child smiles with their whole face, not just their mouth. And cheesing (or is that cheezing?) – that fixed grimace smile that kids adopt at a very young age – is  nothing but a sign that they’re not feeling what they’re pretending to feel.

    Not every emotion your pictures communicate has to be happy, of course. A shot of a child concentrating hard on something can be riveting, or an image that communicates sadness can be equally moving.

    Not Just One Way Traffic

    Of course, the child isn’t the only one doing the feeling here. The images you choose to make and the way you do it says a lot about your mood too.

    If you’re feeling a little lost or isolated, then placing the child in a largely empty frame with their head turned away can say more about you than them.

    But most of the time I’m trying to connect to the emotion of the kids on a shoot – if someone’s shy and reserved, then I’ll be  quiet and gentle too, if someone’s leaping about I’ll try and reflect that energy myself and communicate it in the photographs. But I’m in the final images somewhere, I know.

    This is one of my favourite photos of my daughter (and her beloved teenage friend Sophie). Taken with my iPhone 3G, it's not a very good photo in lots of ways, but it captures a precious feeling, so I love it.

    Technique is necessary not sufficient

    ‘Ah,’ you say, ‘But isn’t a technically perfect photograph of real feeling better than a shot of the same emotion that’s underexposed and has a tree growing out of the kid’s head?’.

    The answer of course is yes. Which is why it’s worth studying all you can and building up some solid technique if you’re photographing your own children.

    It’s also why you might hire a professional photographer to take the shots of your child – they should be better at getting the kids to be themselves in the less than normal situation of a photo session.

    They should also be better at picking the moments to capture the real emotion. And they should also be better at composing the image and getting it technically perfect (in camera and with their post processing and printing).

    What you’re also getting with a pro is (one would hope) something of their personal vision – their take on childhood.

    Altogether, that’s a pretty rare and expensively acquired skillset, so you’ll have to be prepared to pay for the pro’s ability and time.

    But if you’re looking through galleries of photographs (your own or someone else’s)  and you see photographs of kids that look great when you squint but don’t really deliver much impact when you really look closely, the chances are what’s missing is that genuine emotion.

    And capturing that is something that should work on yourself if you’re interested in making great images of children (or anybody, for that matter).

    Like I said, feeling is everything.


     

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    4 Responses to “Feeling is everything”

    1. Denver Portrait Photographer Says:

      Feelings are everything when it comes to taking pictures of kids, it’s all about capturing emotion, and a moment. Well said.

    2. Tweets that mention Feeling is everything | Santa Fe, New Mexico Children and Family Portrait Photographer - David Moore -- Topsy.com Says:

      […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Moore, David Moore. David Moore said: Just blogged: In children's photography, feeling is everything: http://bit.ly/g47EAu […]

    3. David Says:

      Hi Dave, thanks very much for the comment. I know it sounds like an obvious thing to say, but when I see photos that are carefully composed, and expertly lit, and full of props but the kid looks like they’d rather be anywhere else, I start to wonder.

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