Capturing Everyday Life: The Good, the Bad, the Beautiful

Many photographers that I know, myself included, got started with photography so that they could take pictures capturing everyday life.  Not wanting to miss a moment or milestone.  Sound familiar? If so, you probably started by aimlessly clicking the camera at your baby, your dog, your spouse or anything around you. Perhaps, you have some great shots but are wondering why many of your pictures are too “ordinary” looking.  Well, I can totally relate!

When I got my first DSLR camera, I was definitely trigger happy!  I thought that if I just kept clicking and clicking, I’d at least end up with a few awesome images.  That was not the case!  So I decided to learn how to better operate my camera and thought that would do the trick.  It definitely helped in the technical area but that just made my “ordinary” looking images clearer and better exposed! Needless to say, it took some soul searching and researching before I was able to make my images speak to me!  Whether you are trying to capture your everyday life or your client’s everyday life, it can be more difficult than you think. Here are some tips to help bring the “ordinary” to life.

Become a Storyteller

When you think about your image as a visual story, you include details that support what you are trying to capture.  This may require you to step back to include more into the frame or perhaps change your settings so that more is in focus.  If I shot this closer, I could have gotten a nice image of a girl jumping into the pool. However, pulling back means that I got her father’s expression in anticipation of their high five, her little sister covering herself from the enormous splash she is expecting, the palm trees that hint where they are. This went from a picture about a girl having fun to a story about a family’s vacation together.

Capturing Everyday Life

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Embrace the Chaos

In order for you to capture everyday life and all that it represents, you have to realize it isn’t going to be all smiles, laughter and sunshine.  This tip has been a life-changer for me.  I have learned to love the messy stuff and am excited to have these memories for my kids when they get older.

When I walked into the kitchen this day, my first reaction was to grab my camera. This is real life, folks!  Embrace it! It’s all beautiful!

everyday photography tips

The Less you Do, the Better

So we are talking about the everyday life and that means you let happen what’s going to happen.  No need for posing, for location scouting, props or backdrops.  Whew, what a load off!  Sometimes you will get sweet smiles, genuine hugs, and great eye contact and sometimes you won’t.  However, that also means you let it happen organically and not directed by you.

In this picture, I hadn’t said a thing to her.  I was just there!

lifestyle photography tips

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Turn the ordinary into extraordinary

Although following the tips above will increase your odds of getting an awesome shot, you can really make it pop with a solid understanding of light, mood and editing.

Here, this little one is taking a bath, which is an everyday event, but it’s the light and the conversion that really makes this image stand out.

Be aware of emotions

Every day and every minute may not be picture worthy but if you predict when emotions will arise, you will have a picture worthy moment! If you are trying to capture your clients, this is when it’s helpful to have background knowledge about them.

In this image, this girl was about to have a corndog for the first time, which means there will definitely be some emotion happening.  I had my camera ready and before the corndog was even done, she was full of blissful anticipation. Although the corndog would have added to the story, by then all she could do was stuff her face, so the moment was gone.  Be aware, be prepared! BTW, not sure why she wanted to wear sunglasses inside but that’s kids for ya!

Alright, now it’s your turn to embrace your everyday life and use these tips to capture it for all beauty that it has.  Remember, not every picture will be extraordinary, nor should it be. Nonetheless, you or your clients will never regret having these real moments frozen in time to cherish forever!